A Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta declared an emergency and diverted to Oklahoma Will Rogers World Airport on Friday night after a passenger sat in First Class attempted to open an emergency exit mid-flight before fighting with crew and passengers.
Delta flight DL1730 departed Los Angeles at around 5:45 pm on Friday but diverted to Oklahoma at just after 1:00 am on Saturday where law enforcement met the aircraft and removed the passenger. A security sweep with sniffer dogs was conducted before the same Airbus A321 was allowed to continue onto Atlanta.
One witness onboard the flight claims the suspect was an off-duty flight attendant who had boarded the flight wearing a white crash helmet. During the flight, the off-duty flight attendant allegedly passed on a note claiming that the man sat next to him was a terrorist.
The incident started when the suspect managed to make an announcement over the public address system telling everyone to sit down and prepare to grab their oxygen masks.
Terrifying cell phone video taken by witnesses on the flight show passengers grappling with the suspect close to the emergency exit at the front of the plane. The door to the flight deck is less than a couple of metres away.
With the cabin lights still dimmed for the red-eye flight to Atlanta, one flight attendant can be heard screaming “HELP!” to attract the attention of other passengers further back the aircraft.
In a second video, passengers can be seen struggling to restrain the suspect as he screams out. One of the flight attendants is forced to shout at other passengers to take their seats because the restraint kit was at the back of the plane and a flight attendant couldn’t get to the front where it was needed.
Benjamin Curlee, a passenger onboard the flight, said the Captain made an announcement calling “all able-bodied men” to come to the front of the plane due to an emergency. On arrival in Oklahoma, Curlee and all the other passengers were deplaned before being allowed back onboard.
The incident occurred just over a week after a passenger on another Delta flight from Los Angeles had to be hogtied using plasticuffs after he attempted to break into the flight deck. On Friday, yet another Delta flight from LAX was diverted after a drunk passenger caused a disturbance and a “threat” to the aircraft.
Delta Air Lines has been contacted for comment.
Credit: Steve Denton / The Insider Paper – @TheInsiderPaper / Twitter
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 relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.