The Seattle Times is reporting more details on what caused a Delta Air Lines flight between Seattle and Beijing to turn around off the southwest coast of Canada and return to Sea-Tac on Thursday night. Apparently a 23-year-old man was traveling in first class thanks to a pass normally given to the relatives of airline employees. But what started as a perfectly ordinary flight for you or me ended with zip ties and screams of “Do you know who I am?!”
Yes, who exactly? Q13 Fox was able to get in touch with Joseph Hudek’s grandfather who says the relationship is through his mother, but that still doesn’t clarify or justify his actions. I do believe the grandfather when he says this behavior is out of character. It just sounds so ridiculous that I struggle to believe it really happened.
Prosecutors say Hudek boarded and had a beer during the pre-flight beverage service but didn’t show obvious signs of intoxication. An hour after takeoff he got up to visit the restroom, exited to talk to the flight attendant in the galley, then returned to the lavatory briefly before making a sudden effort to open the emergency exit door. Apparently he made good progress, too. I thought these were designed not to open at altitude (there have been plenty of reports of inexperienced travelers who try) but the plane appears to have still be flying low enough that it might have been possible.
At that point Hudek punched a flight attendant in the face — twice — and smashed a wine bottle over the head of a passenger who tried to intervene. Another flight attendant then grabbed two wine bottles and hit Hudek over the head. He escaped a headlock before finally being pinned down by multiple passengers and restrained with zip ties during the flight back to Seattle.
This sound very exciting. Especially the news that Delta is adding a first class cabin 😉 (Delta’s international flights have long had only economy and business class.) Many of the details were revealed in a preliminary hearing on Friday, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the case as the trial continues. Hudek could face 20 years in jail and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.