I have been flying for five decades and I have never would have imaged the antics of passengers that we have seen this year. I get it, nobody likes being cooped up in a 200-ton can of Pringles. The problem is only getting worse. Now, we are experiencing bad behavior by flight attendants and former flight attendants.
The Former Flight Attendant
American Airlines flight 881 took off last Tuesday bound for Cancun Mexico. During climb out at an altitude of 6,750 feet, flight 881 was ordered to return to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. A former flight attendant with Piedmont Airlines, a regional carrier for American Airlines, bypassed TSA security. Narada Wilson bypassed security by accessing an employee door to get airside. This is likely to have occurred because either:
- The airline failed to retrieve Mr. Wilson’s credentials upon termination and take Mr. Wilson out of the security database or
- A former coworker not knowing Mr. Wilson’s employment status unwittingly let him access a secured area.
Either way, there would appear to be a violation of airport security protocol.
Upon return to the gate, Mr. Wilson was arrested by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police. After a maintenance inspection and a security check, the flight departed for Cancun running 2:50 late.
Delta Captain Calls For All “Strong Males” To Contain Problem Passenger
The next time that you hear “this is your captain speaking”, it may be your call to action. This was the case Friday night when Delta Airlines flight 1730 was flying from Los Angeles (LAX) to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. The suspect, in this case, was an off-duty flight attendant wearing a helmet, elbow and knee pads. This follows an incident last week where a passenger aboard Delta 386 from Los Angeles to Nashville tried to break into the cockpit yelling “we need to land this airplane”.
About two hours before landing, the off-duty flight attendant commandeered the public address system and stated that he was “going to take the plane down”. He went on to advise passengers to return to their seats and prepare to don their oxygen masks. To be fair, this off-duty flight attendant may have been experiencing mental health issues. The subsequent investigation will determine the cause of that person’s behavior. Regardless, when you are in the air, control must be quickly restored for the safety of everyone aboard.
According to passenger Benjamin Curlee, “that created quite a stir”. Another passenger comment was “well, that’s really bad. I mean that only happens when the plane goes down”.
As seen in the video, there was a scuffle in the front of first class. The captain called out “all able-bodied men, please come to the front of the plane for an emergency”. Passengers answered the call of duty to subdue and restrain the subject.
The aircraft diverted to Oklahoma City, OK where the restrained passenger was taken into custody and transported to a hospital with minor injuries. The suspect was also interviewed by the FBI. The assault allegations would be local charges but actions interfering with an aircrew are federal crimes. The aircraft took off three hours later for Atlanta, GA.
This Video Shows The Passengers Response
So far in 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received over 2,900 reports of “unruly behavior by passengers. Interfering with a flight crew or the operation of civil aircraft is a federal crime with a maximum sentence of 20 years. Airlines could sue these passengers for the cost of a flight diversion which could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Bad behavior during flights is at an epidemic level. What were once rare events are now happening every week. It may take publically giving a few suspects the maximum sentence to get the message to the flying public. I have been flying for five decades and I never would have believed that aviation would be the “last roundup” in a 200-ton can of Pringles.
Your flight crew members have been trained for your safety. Please respect these crew members and obey their instructions.