A man attempted to break into the flight deck of a Delta Air Lines from Los Angeles to Nashville on Friday prompting flight attendants and passengers to jump on the suspect and tie him up with zip ties.
Delta flight DL386 was forced to divert to Albuquerque where it remained on the ground for several hours as local authorities arrested the suspect. The investigation has now been taken over by the FBI who could charge the man with jeopardising flight safety.
One passenger who was aboard the flight said that they believed the man was in the midst of a mental health crisis. Jessica Robertson, a passenger on the flight who posted about the experience on Twitter, said the man was screaming “STOP THE PLANE”.
Jessica hailed one of the flight attendants who was identified as Christopher Williams as a hero for acting quickly to subdue the man. She said passengers were terrified but the flight attendants and other passengers helped to wrestle the man to the ground and restrain him.
It’s not entirely clear how the incident started but one of the flight attendants is heard saying in a video posted to Twitter: “He kept banging on the flight door.”
“That’s a no-no. The second he banged on the door, it was a wrap.”
It’s not believed that any passengers or crew were injured in the incident and the FBI later confirmed that passengers were no longer at risk.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Delta said: “Thanks to the crew and passengers of Delta Flight 386, LAX to Nashville (BNA), who assisted in detaining an unruly passenger as the flight diverted to Albuquerque (ABQ). The aircraft landed without incident and the passenger was removed by law enforcement.”
Last month, a Japanese woman was arrested after banging on the flight deck door of an American Airlines flight from Tokyo to Dallas Fort Worth. The Captain immediately put the Boeing 787 Dreamliner into ‘Level 3’ lockdown and diverted the plane to Seattle where the woman was removed by police and charged by the FBI with knowingly and intentionally interfering with flight crew members.
The woman was said to be unhappy because the in-seat power stopped working and she was unable to charge her mobile phone. After flight attendants were unable to help her, the woman charged to the flight deck and demanded help from the pilots.
There has been a dramatic surge in the number of unruly passenger incidents in the last few months, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) saying it has received more than 2,500 reports about disruptive passengers since January.
The FAA has adopted zero tolerance policy that could result in passengers paying civil penalties of up to $35,000.
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh International Airport
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.