Passenger Attacks Delta Flight Attendant, Forcing Plane to Turn Back

Jul 7, 2017

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Update 7/8/17 11:30am: A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Seattle alleges the passenger, identified as 23-year old Joseph Hudek, was traveling on a “dependent pass” provided by a Delta employee and attempted to open an emergency exit door while the plane was in flight at 32,000 feet. According to the complaint, as the flight crew and other passengers attempted to restrain him, he punched a flight attendant twice and hit another passenger with a bottle of wine. He was then hit himself by a flight attendant with two wine bottles, one of which broke over his head.

Eventually the passengers and crew were able to zip-tie Hudek’s hands together to stop him and the flight returned to Seattle. The US Attorney released this photograph showing the galley after the aircraft had landed:


Last night, Delta flight 129 took off from Seattle (SEA) on time at 5:10pm local time (8:10pm ET). But, instead of heading across the Pacific to its intended destination of Beijing (PEK), about two and a half hours later, the Delta 767-300 ended up landing back at SEA because of a “security incident” that occurred in the business-class cabin.

According to The Washington Post, a business-class passenger attacked a flight attendant just about one hour after takeoff. Following the attack, other travelers stepped in to help subdue the 23-year-old man from Florida from any further attack. There were initial reports that the attacker had attempted to enter the cockpit, however, Perry Cooper, a Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokesperson denied that actually occurred.

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“The passenger was restrained onboard and was removed from the flight by law enforcement without further incident when the aircraft arrived back in Seattle,” a Delta spokeswoman said. Upon the plane’s return to SEA, the flight attendant who was attacked and another passenger who helped to subdue the attacker received medical attention. At this time, the severity of their injuries are unknown.

At the time the plane landed back at SEA, the passenger who attacked the flight attendant was taken into custody by the Port of Seattle Police Department. In addition, Cooper said that both the FBI and police have been questioning other passengers who were on board. “Right now, we have no information to suggest this was a national security threat.”

Delta flight 129 ended up taking off without incident for Beijing just after midnight local time. As of this writing, the plane is still en route.

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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