File photo: The mother-of-one, who regularly flies between homes in the United Arab Emirates and the UK, will have to find a new airline after Virgin banned her for life.

London - A restaurateur's wife was hauled off a flight following a drunken outburst in which she called an air hostess an “old hag covered in fake tan”.

Passengers watched in horror as Lauren Johnson, 23, threatened to hit the Virgin Atlantic stewardess and told her: “You smug bitch, you wear too much make-up.”

Marched off the aircraft in handcuffs by police at Heathrow, she continued her rant and lashed out at an officer. A judge told Johnson she was lucky to avoid jail following the air rage incident.

But the mother-of-one, who regularly flies between homes in the United Arab Emirates and the UK, will have to find a new airline after Virgin banned her for life.

Isleworth Crown Court heard how Johnson, whose husband is a successful restaurant chain entrepreneur, had been drinking on the seven-hour journey between Dubai and London on June 17.

Cradling her 12-month-old child, she started demanding entry to the cockpit so her baby could wave at the captain. But when the request was refused because the plane was preparing to land, Johnson became abusive. She told one stewardess: “You smug bitch, you wear too much make-up. Look at you, you old hag, old slag covered in fake tan.” The court heard how she continued to scream despite her husband’s efforts to silence her by placing his hand over her mouth.

The incident flared up again when Johnson was seen standing with her child as the passenger jet prepared to touch down in London. Asked to return to her seat, she said: “I won’t f****** sit down. I need to find my husband.”

Prosecutor Neil Guest said: “Johnson was shouting and swearing and waving her arms around, refusing to sit down and put on her seatbelt.” At one stage airline staff overheard Johnson say loudly to her husband: “I’m going to punch her in the face.”

Police removed the mother at Heathrow but she kept hitting the door of the police van on her way to the station, where she struck a female officer on the chin.

Johnson told the court she had been contacted by social services after the incident. “We travel at least once a month and I have never done anything like this before, it’s completely out of character,” she said.

Judge Robin Johnson told her: “Those who behave like this on an aeroplane are a menace and a safety risk.” Johnson, who lives in a £460 000 house in Greenwich, southeast London, admitted being drunk on an aircraft and assault.

She was sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for 18 months, and fined £4 500 (about R76 500).