Delta flight 129 was bound for Beijing on Thursday from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport when it was forced to return to Seattle after a first-class passenger assaulted a flight attendant and tried to open the emergency exit door before being subdued by other passengers who hit him over the head with wine bottles.
A 23-year-old male passenger from Florida, who has not been named, was arrested by Port of Seattle Police Department officers. The incident saw a flight attendant and another passenger injured and both were taken to the hospital after landing back at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The violent passenger was also injured but declined medical attention.
The flight departed Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at around 5:07 P.M. local time but returned to Seattle roughly 45 minutes into the flight, airport spokesperson Perry Cooper said.
One passenger, who requested to remain anonymous, told KIRO 7 that a group of people broke two wine bottles over the man’s head in an attempt to subdue him.
The passenger also said the man had been going back and forth to the bathroom, when he started heading to the emergency exit latch, saying that he “needed air.”
A flight attendant attempted to stop him at which point he punched her. Other passengers then became involved.
“They broke two bottles of wine on his head,” the passenger said. “I tried to choke him and he just threw me off like a rag doll.”
Passenger Dustin Jones heard the incident breakout from the first row of the main cabin, just behind the curtain that separates first class from the rest of the plane.
“One of the flight attendants ran back and said there was a Code 3. There was a serious fight up front,” Jones said.
Passenger Britteny Gardner said she saw “somebody that was working” with “blood on their shirt.”
Eventually, the flight was ordered to turn back and another passenger sat on the 23-year-old until they landed safely back in Seattle and the police took him into custody.
Jones said the man continued to fight even as he was ziptied to a wheelchair.
“He started yelling for help. And so he turned the wheelchair over in the middle of the airport, screaming for people to help him, just being belligerent,” Jones said.
Despite the nearly seven-hour delay of the original flight, passenger Glen Wang said he and his fellow travelers took it well.
“No commotion, and the whole flight was really quiet, very nice, and everything’s in order. Actually, I think we did a good job,” Wang said.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Seattle–Tacoma International Airport is the largest airport in the Pacific Northwest region of the North America and thirteenth-busiest airport in the United States.