A Delta Air Lines flight attendant smashed two bottles of wine over a passenger's head as he tried to force a plane door open during a mid-air brawl.

Joseph Daniel Hudek IV was arrested on Thursday after the China-bound flight was forced to return to Seattle two hours after takeoff.

The 23-year-old is charged with instigating the fight on board the Boeing 767-300 which saw cabin crew and other passengers desperately battle to restrain him.

According to an FBI affidavit, the incident began when Hudek, a first class passenger, lunged for an
exit door at the front of the plane, grabbed the handle and tried to open it.

In the course of the scuffle that followed, Hudek repeatedly punched a flight attendant and a fellow passenger, and persisted in trying to pull open the door.

A second flight attendant struck him over the head with two large wine bottles in a bid to subdue him. Both flight attendants were women.

Hudek was finally restrained with zip ties as several passengers joined the fray, but not before he managed to pull the door lever halfway to the open position, the FBI said.

The affidavit made no mention of what might have precipitated the melee.

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