When Minnesota couples argue over custody of their children, they typically don't involve hundreds of witnesses. However, a routine flight to China turned into a bizarre kidnapping and child custody dispute as the plane was ordered to return to the United States after reaching Canada. The 180 passengers were then informed that a woman was aboard the plane who was allegedly attempting to kidnap her son with no intentions of returning him to his father in the United States.
The plane left Dulles International Airport in Virginia on the afternoon of September 4. Once the plane departed and reached Canada, it was ordered by the FBI to return to the airport. The FBI had received notice that the woman was planning on taking the child the China. The United Airlines pilot had told passengers that the diversion was due to mechanical problems and did not want to divulge the real reason - an abduction - to avoid scaring the passengers. Once the plane returned to Virginia, the mother was arrested for kidnapping and the boy was given back to his father.
Parents must abide by the child custody orders and arrangements agreed upon by the court. When a parent continually returns a child back to the custodial parent late - or not at all - then the parent may face criminal charges. As ludicrous as it may seem, parents can be arrested and jailed for kidnapping their own child.
Had the FBI not intervened in time, the mother and child would have likely made it to China. The case would have then turned into an international kidnapping. The case would have become more complicated and it may have taken many months or even years for the child to be found.
Source: CBS News, "United Airlines flight diverted over child custody battle," Sept. 5, 2014