We’ve seen a significant uptick in “air rage” incidents in recent months, though this is terrifying on a different level.
What caused a Delta flight to divert
This story involves Delta flight 1730 from Los Angeles to Atlanta on Friday, June 11, 2021. The flight was scheduled to depart Los Angeles at 5:45PM and arrive in Atlanta at 1:06AM, but ended up being delayed by several hours due to a diversion to Oklahoma City.
According to reports, the incident unfolded when a passenger seated in the first row of first class handed a note to the flight attendant claiming that the passenger next to him was a terrorist. Apparently the passenger then made a PA telling people to prepare to put on their oxygen masks, and then he allegedly tried to open the emergency exit door. Fortunately it’s virtually impossible to open that at cruising altitude, due to the difference in pressurization between the inside and outside of the cabin.
At this point the passenger needed to be subdued. The captain made an announcement asking for “all-able bodied men” to come to the front of the cabin to restrain the passenger. There’s video footage of the man being restrained, and it’s kind of chilling to see.
Other passengers managed to restrain the aggressor all the way until the plane was able to land in Oklahoma City, at which point the man was arrested. Kudos to the passengers for stepping up so selflessly to help the crew get the situation under control.
This was an off-duty flight attendant?!?
While we’ve seen quite some air rage incidents in recent months, they’ve mostly involved frustrated travelers having disagreements over masks, etc. In this case (for better or worse, depending on how you look at it), it seems that the person in question was probably dealing with some sort of mental issues.
There are a couple of particularly surprising details that have emerged here. First of all, the man who caused this incident was wearing a white helmet for most of the flight. It sure seems like something is a bit “off” there:
- Admittedly it’s not illegal to wear a helmet on a plane, though it is unusual
- Was this guy wearing a helmet because he boarded the flight expecting to get into a confrontation like this?
- Perhaps some people assumed he was just looking to transport a helmet, and at that point it might be easiest to just wear it on your head (or something)?
What makes this story even stranger is that CNN quotes a Delta spokesperson as confirming that the passenger involved in the incident was in fact an off-duty flight attendant. I’d be skeptical of that detail if it weren’t for official confirmation from Delta. For that matter, the fact that the man knew how to operate the PA suggests that he had some operational knowledge, so perhaps that lends further credibility to the claim.
It goes without saying that there are bad (or disturbed?) “apples” in every line of work. It’s scary enough to see something like this happen in general, and even scarier to see an employee who presumably has airside access without going through security act this way.
I hope the guy gets the help he needs, and also that he’s not in a position where something like this can happen again.
A Friday evening Delta flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta had to divert to Oklahoma City after a passenger wearing a helmet tried to get on the PA to tell passengers to put on their oxygen masks, while also attempting to open the emergency exit. Reports suggest that this person was an off-duty Delta flight attendant, which makes all of this even more concerning.
This has to be one of the wilder aircraft diversion stories we’ve heard in quite a while…