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Woman charged after causing Detroit-to-Shanghai flight diversion

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A woman who screamed profanities and disobeyed crew orders on a Detroit-to-Shanghai flight, causing the pilot to divert to Anchorage, Alaska, was charged on Tuesday with interfering with flight crew members and attendants.

The Sunday flight, operated by Delta Air Lines Inc, stopped in Alaska's biggest city, where officers arrested Stephanie Heizman Auerbach, a Shanghai-based designer and owner of an apparel and fashion company, according to court documents.

An affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage said Auerbach's disruptive behavior began 60 to 90 minutes into the flight, when she began talking loudly, making gestures, walking up and down the aisle and climbing over seats.

She "screamed profanities" at flight attendants and five times refused to heed instructions to return to her assigned seat, according to the affidavit, filed by Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Benjamin Hallowell.

Flight attendants had served her five glasses of white wine, and passengers said she took additional alcoholic beverages from the galley without the knowledge of flight crew members, according to the affidavit.

The plane's captain "determined that it was not safe to continue the flight" with Auerbach aboard and diverted to Anchorage, the affidavit said.

Two children traveling with Auerbach were allowed to remain on the flight because they were being met in Shanghai by their father, according to the affidavit.

Auerbach's LinkedIn profile describes her as a designer and owner of an apparel and fashion company in Shanghai, Stephanie & Co.

Auerbach remained in custody late Tuesday at Anchorage's Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, a spokeswoman said. She surrendered her passport on Tuesday, according to court records.

Her Anchorage attorney was not immediately available for comment late Tuesday.

(Editing by Scott Malone; editing by Jim Marshall)

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