Passengers Restrain Man Who Threatened to ‘Take Down’ Delta Aircraft

Aug 3, 2018

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A man aboard a Delta flight who threatened to “take the plane down” was restrained by fellow passengers until the plane landed.

Delta flight 1249 took off from Portland, Maine (PWM) headed for its Atlanta (ATL) hub Thursday at 6:25am. Soon after take off James Tunnell, a former corrections officer, and his travel companion Ashley Decker heard a commotion at the rear of the cabin.

“I could hear a lot of screaming in the back. One of the passengers was punching the [overhead seat] lights,” Tunnell told Fox 5. “Passengers were telling me he was wanting to take the plane down.”

The man in the back was making threats and throwing punches at passengers and the aircraft window.

Tunnell ran toward the action after the belligerent man locked himself in the bathroom. Another man, who claimed to be a member of the Coast Guard, came to Tunnell’s aid. Together the two put the man in handcuffs, provided by the flight attendant, and put him back in his seat — but only after the man attempted to bite Tunnell multiple times. Tunnell even had to tie the handcuffs to the seatbelt to completely restrain the man.

“It was kind of scary. 9/11 immediately went into my head,” Decker told Fox 5.

Tunnell and the Coast Guard member stood guard next to the man’s seat until the aircraft landed. Once the plane touched down on the runway, the entire plane erupted in applause Tennell said.

“There was a lot of lives at stake, where people could have been potentially hurt,” said Tunnell.

Flight Aware tracking shows the MD-90 stayed on a flight path consistent with normal operations and didn’t divert for an emergency landing.

Delta provided this statement to TPG regarding the incident:

Delta flight 1249 from Portland, Maine to Atlanta was met by law enforcement in Atlanta due to a customer disturbance on board. Delta appreciates the assistance from those customers who aided the crew and applauds the professionalism of our flight attendants for their efforts in deescalating the situation. The safety and security of our customers and crew are always Delta’s top priority.

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