Crazy Details Emerge About Melee on Diverted Delta Flight
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Seattle offers a blow-by-blow account of the insanity that unfolded Thursday night on Delta flight 129 from Seattle (SEA) to Beijing, China (PEK).
The passenger, identified in the complaint as 23-year old Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, was flying in the Delta One premium cabin when he attempted to open an emergency exit at 32,000 feet, threw punches at flight attendants and passengers who attempted to restrain him and had at least one wine bottle broken over his head.
The complaint states that Hudek, was seated in seat 1D, and was traveling on a “dependent pass” given to him by a Delta employee; (news reports have indicated Hudek’s mother works for Delta). He was served one beer before take off, but did not appear to be intoxicated or impaired otherwise. After takeoff, Hudek went to the forward lavatory, briefly emerged to ask a flight attendant a question, then went back in for approximately two minutes.
Upon exiting, Hudek “lunged toward the forward right exit door of the aircraft, grabbed the handle, and attempted to open it,” according to the complaint. Two Delta flight attendants attempted to grab him and stop him, but he pushed them away and kept trying to open the door.
As one of the flight attendants motioned for help from other passengers and informed the captain of the issue (who began diverting back to Seattle), the other flight attendant continued to struggle with Hudek, who punched the attendant twice in the face. He then hit one of the male passengers, who was attempting to restrain him, with a wine bottle and punched him multiple times, including at least two shots to the eye.
At that point, a flight attendant hit Hudek over his head with two full-size wine bottles, breaking at least one of them. However, the impact appeared to have no effect on Hudek, who responded by shouting “Do you know who I am?”
The passenger who had earlier been punched got Hudek into a headlock. He was unable to hold it, but with the assistance of several other premium cabin passengers, the group was able to restrain Hudek long enough to get zip ties around his hands. The criminal complaint states that despite being immobilized, “Hudek remained extremely combative, and multiple passengers were needed to restrain Hudek and keep him restrained until the plane landed safely back at Sea-Tac airport.”
The Delta flight landed back in Seattle a little after 7pm and police officers took custody of Hudek, who according to the complaint “remained combative and noncompliant with officers throughout the process.” The flight attendant and passenger who had been punched by Hudek were transported to a local hospital with severe facial injuries.
As noted in the complaint, during the altercation Hudek was able to twist the emergency exit door arm by 90 degrees, technically disarming it. However, it would be nearly impossible for a human being to open an emergency exit door at 32,000 feet due to the outside air pressure. Still, as the plane descended and the pressure lessened, it is conceivable the door could have opened. Thankfully, once Hudek was secured, a flight attendant was able to rearm the door before that could occur.
This is one of the craziest air incidents we’ve heard about in recent years. It’s not clear what happened to cause Hudek to explode, but obviously something was very wrong. As for the Delta employee who gave Hudek the travel pass, we asked a Delta flight attendant what was likely to happen to that person.
“If you act up on a buddy pass or any other kind of pass travel, chances are the person the pass travel is linked to will lose the benefit,” said the flight attendant, who requested anonymity. “It is a terminable offense — especially if you have a record you could get fired for it. If you have a clean record you lose travel benefits.”
Praise certainly goes to the flight attendants and passengers who worked together to stop this man from causing a potentially catastrophic accident. We wish the two individuals who suffered injuries a speedy recovery.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees