A passenger who attempted to break into the first class section of an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu was restrained in an unusual way. The passenger, identified later as Anil Tuvanc Uskanli, is expected to face federal charges for interference with a flight crew.
The 28-year-old man was on board a flight that departed from Los Angeles International Airport at 8:43 a.m. PST (GMT -7). According to a witness on the flight, the man had a blanket or towel over his head which obscured his face from others. He was moving toward the forward section of the plane when a member of the flight crew ordered him to return to his seat. The flight attendant was still in the economy section with the drink cart and told Uskanli to please stop and “go back to your seat.”
According to CNN, Allison Forburger, a U.S. Navy worker who lives in Hawaii, witnessed the entire altercation from her seat in the front of economy. She recalls that there were other passengers who helped the flight attendant return the man to his seat. Uskanli did not fight when he was forcibly returned and left a black laptop on the drink cart.
According to FBI Special Agent Paul Delacourt, there were no explosives found on the airplane and the cockpit was not breached. Delacourt also stressed that this was not a coordinated effort and seemed to be restricted to just that flight.
Duct Tape to the Rescue
Forburger told CNN that the drink cart was used by the attendant to block Uskanli’s path. It was already there because the flight attendants had been collecting dishes from the first class passenger’s lunches.
According to her, the attendant called for help, saying, “I need help. I need help! I need to get this guy back to his seat.”
First class passenger Lee Lorenzen told KITV that he, “saw the flight attendant with a panicked look and she rammed the cart into the entrance to first class. I just stood behind her. He was just trying to push in to breach the front part of the plane.”
Uskanli was quickly forced back to his seat and secured to it with blankets and duct tape, where he remained bound for the remainder of the flight. When the flight landed in Honolulu, he was arrested and escorted off of the plane for questioning by the FBI.
In response to the crisis, two F-22 Raptor fighter jets were scrambled by the Hawaii Air National Guard to escort the plane into Honolulu.
Previous Erratic Behavior
This wasn’t the first sign of problematic behavior from Uskanli. While he was waiting to embark, he was questioned for attempting to use an off-limits door at LAX. Uskanli had purchased his ticket around midnight, PST, and then attempted to go through the prohibited door near 3:00 a.m., PST. After being questioned, he was released and allowed to board the flight. Officials at LAX determined that Uskanli had been drinking, but was not drunk enough to bar him from flying.
Another incident occurred during boarding when two first class passengers said they found a laptop in their seat pocket. They reported it to a flight attendant who thought that it belonged to Uskanli, who was in the bathroom at the time. The passengers returned it to him after he left the lavatory, and according to them, he scowled at them as it was returned. After verifying his boarding pass, a flight attendant escorted Uskanli back to his seat.
Uskanli never made it out of the economy section during his attempt to enter the front part of the plane according to several eye witnesses. He was stopped by the flight attendant with the help of several passengers. Authorities are not sure why he was trying to get into the first class with his laptop in hand.
[Featured Image by Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock]