‘Not on our watch’: Crew and passengers save Delta flight by combating man who rushed the cockpit

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LOS ANGELES, CA – A disaster was averted after flight crew and passengers were able to stop a man who rushed the cockpit on a flight from Los Angeles to Nashville on Friday.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Delta Flight 386 was en route to Nashville at about 11:30 a.m. when the man tried to break into the crew cabin. Video taken by passengers captured the dramatic events as flight attendants and passengers wrestled with the man.

The man was eventually able to be tackled and restrained by the brave group.

One flight attendant who fought with the attacker commented:

“He kept banging on the flight door. That’s a no-no. The second he banged on the door, it was a wrap.”

The aircraft diverted to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it made an emergency landing around 2:20 p.m.

Upon landing, the man was escorted off the airplane by airport police and arrested. He has been turned over to the custody of the FBI, according to a spokesperson from Albuquerque International Sunport Airport.

The FBI confirmed they were responding to a diverted flight and said there was no threat to the public.

Delta Airlines issued a statement thanking the crew and passengers for their incredible bravery:

“Thanks to the crew and passengers of Delta Flight 386, LAX to Nashville (BNA), who assisted in detaining an unruly passenger as the flight diverted to Albuquerque (ABQ).

“The aircraft landed without incident and the passenger was removed by law enforcement. We apologize to our customers for the delay and any additional inconvenience.”

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Two videos of the incident posted to the social media outlet Twitter showed a flight attendant aided by passengers subduing and restraining the man.

In the first video, the flight attendant struggles to hold the man down. A heading read, “Flight attendants! Respect Y’all.”

In the second, the man is shown hog-tied and restrained in a seat with a passenger sitting next to him. The caption, posted with the video, read:

“Y’all a n*** tried to hijack my plane on God we just had to emergency land the done hogtied this n*** up on God my life wild.”

The flight remained grounded for several hours following the incident. Passengers were scheduled to depart at 8:15 p.m.

The motives of the man remain unknown, and the FBI is investigating.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it has seen a disturbing increase in passengers disrupting flights this year, including a woman who punched a flight attendant on a Southwest flight in May.

In that incident, an unruly passenger attacked a flight attendant, knocking her to the ground and injuring her face.

Passenger Susan Stidham witnessed the midflight attack and said:

“Apparently what she did was stood up and took off her seat belt and the flight attendant told her to put it back on and she attacked her.”

Another witness to the assault, Taro Arai, said the attack was violent:

“They start shoving each other and the next I (heard) was ‘Don’t touch me!’ They start yelling, the lady stood up and pound! She just knocked her out on the floor.

“So, now she’s bleeding everywhere in the back looking at us and this lady who hit went back to her seat wearing a mask (like) nothing happened seems like. I’m like, whoa, I mean, she was so strong she could knock me out.”

The attacker was identified as 28-year-old Vyvianna Quinonez, according to CBS Sacramento. She was escorted off the plane by officers and was arrested on a charge of battery causing serious bodily injury.

The flight attendant was treated for minor injuries.

She said:

“I don’t understand why she would get so mad at the flight attendant. I don’t understand why people are so angry, not only attacking people but assaulting them.”

Lyn Montgomery, Southwest Airlines Union President, said that such incidents of violence on aircraft are rising as passengers return to the air following a long year of pandemic:

“Since April 8 to May 15 alone, 477 incidents were reported on Southwest Airlines. Nationwide, since the beginning of the year, it’s been 2,500.

“I think we could probably say it has to do with the COVID-19 quarantine orders, the requirements to wear masks, and also, perhaps, the civil unrest in the nation.

On Dec. 23, 2020, a scuffle took place on a Delta flight from Honolulu to Seattle when a man tried to open the cockpit door and fought with the flight crew and passengers. An FFA statement read:

“The FAA alleges that the passenger tried to open the cockpit door, repeatedly refused to comply with crew members’ instructions, and physically assaulted a flight attendant by striking him in the face and pushing him to the floor. The passenger then threatened the flight attendant by charging at him as he was trying to restrain the passenger.

“Flight attendants, with the help of another passenger, placed plastic handcuffs on the disruptive passenger. Later, the passenger freed himself from one of the handcuffs and struck the flight attendant in the face a second time. Police boarded the aircraft after it landed and took the passenger into custody.”

The FAA imposes large fines on unruly passengers. Federal law prohibits passengers from interfering with or threatening flight crews in any way. The FAA explained the law in a statement:

“Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft.

“Passengers are subject to civil penalties because such misconduct can threaten the safety of the flight by disrupting or distracting cabin crew from their safety duties.”

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