United Airlines
Passengers united to restrain an unruly woman who sprinted towards the cockpit on a New Orleans-bound flight Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Passengers aboard United Airlines flight 898 were forced to tackled a "disruptive customer" who made a sprint for the cockpit. The New Orleans-bound flight returned to Houston following the incident, United confirmed in a statement.

The unruly passenger reportedly began yelling and banging on the walls of the plane around halfway into the flight, KTRK reported. "I hear (her) screaming, 'We are all protected and loved! We are all protected and loved! This plane is going to land beautifully and kindly!'" United passenger Julian Markowitz said.

"In an instant, she stands up, bolts to the aisle and started sprinting towards the cockpit," Markowitz said.

He continued: "As soon as she started running, I stand up and ask the flight attendant, 'Can I help you with this? Do you need help?' She said go for it, so I gently pushed the flight attendant out of the way and started sprinting after the woman myself."

According to Markowitz, several passengers also jumped in to help control the woman. In total, he claimed "it took five men" to subdue the passenger, including an off-duty pilot who was among the passengers. "She was in a very psychotic state. She was very aggressive," he told KTRK.

Flight attendants then gave them zip-tie handcuffs to restrain the woman's wrists and ankles and keep her down for the trip back to Texas. Markowitz said, "I sort of smiled to give everyone the sense that everyone is fine, the situation was under control."

Police took custody of the unidentified woman after the plan landed back at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. According to the Houston Chronicle, the plane got back in the air just after midnight and landed in New Orleans at 1.16am, on Sunday (23 July).

In a statement to Fox News, United thanked its passengers and crew for handling the situation.

"United flight 898 from Houston to New Orleans returned to Houston due to a disruptive customer. The flight landed safely and law officials met the aircraft upon arrival," United said. "We thank our customers for their patience, and our crew for their professional actions."

United has faced a number of passenger-related incidents in recent months. In April, the airline forcibly removed a doctor from a flight to make room for more crew members. The bloody removal, which was caught on video, went viral and led to an undisclosed settlement.

Recently, the airline was criticised for forcing a mother traveling with her two-year-old son to sit him on her lap after taking away his seat to give to another passenger.