In an industry full of misbehaving employees lately, a passenger was actually to blame for a recent airline commotion. According to reports, a “disheveled” man tried to rush a cockpit with a blanket on his head on Friday. Military planes had to escort the flight to its destination and the passenger was taped to a seat.
CNBC reports that the passenger, identified as Anil Uskanil, 25, already had law-enforcement troubles earlier in the day. Police at Los Angeles International Airport told CNBC that they caught Uskanil going through a door that led onto the airfield ramp from the terminal. From CNBC:
They said Uskanil, a ticketed passenger who had gone through U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening, was allegedly spotted by an alert contractor and detained.
Police said they investigated the incident at LAX and “Uskanil was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing, cited, given a pending court date and released from custody.”
More problems came along later, when CNBC reports that Uskanil was allowed on his ticketed flight, American Airlines Flight 31, to Hawaii. A TSA employee later defended the decision to let him on the plane after the LAX incident.
The flight from LAX was about six hours long, with CNBC reporting that it departed at 8:34 a.m. local time with 181 passengers and six on the crew. USA Today reports that Uskanil, a student from Turkey on a visa to study at an acting school in the U.S., tried to sit in first class with a laptop until a flight attendant checked his ticket and made him move back to economy.
But several hours later, Hawaii News Now reports that Uskanil tried to come back through first class and allegedly tried to get through to the cockpit. He threw himself into a beverage cart trying to get into the first-class cabin, passengers and authorities told Hawaii News Now:
Passengers said the man had a blanket or towel on his head, and didn’t say anything as he pushed forward.
Flight attendants, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer and other passengers were able to stop the man and secure him in a seat, and no injuries were reported.
“It was all kind of surreal,” said Penny Lorenzen, a passenger on the flight. “It’s amazing to me how calm everybody stayed. Angels were watching out for us.”
Passengers told Hawaii News Now that “it took seconds” to restrain Uskanil with the help of others on the flight. Passengers said those who stepped in to help duct taped Uskanil to his seat, and Hawaii News Now reports that he was taken into custody once the plane landed with plans for a medical evaluation before authorities transferred him to the Honolulu federal detention center.
The disturbance in flight prompted a military escort to accompany the plane to its Honolulu destination, according to CNBC:
“Two Pacific Command F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard scrambled this morning in response to a reported disturbance on a civilian airliner making an approach to Honolulu International Airport,” U.S. Navy Commander Dave Benham told CNBC in an emailed statement.
American Airlines said in a statement that the crew requested law enforcement to meet the aircraft upon landing in Hawaii. Uskanil could face federal charges for interfering with a flight crew, FBI special agent Paul Delacourt told CNN.
Even with all of the commotion from crews and passengers alike on U.S. carriers lately, an organization that represents the airline industry expects a record 234.1 million passengers to fly on U.S.-based airlines this summer—a projected 4-percent increase in summer airline travel.
Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.