A passenger had to be restrained by seven flight attendants after rushing the front of the aircraft before strangling a flight attendant with his own necktie in an effort to breach the cockpit door.
Suicidal Passenger Rushes Cockpit, Strangles JetBlue Flight Attendant
JetBlue Flight 261 left Boston (BOS) on Wednesday evening headed for San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU). According to an FBI affidavit, Khalil El Dahr attempted to make a make a phone call in the air and became agitated when it did not work.
Yelling in Arabic and Spanish, El Dahr rushed toward the flight deck door. A flight attendant was stop El Dahr in the front row of the plane, but then one of the pilots opened the flight deck door, unaware of what was going on outside.
El Dahr used the opportunity to push back against an overhead bin to gain leverage then kicked the flight attendant in the chest while grasping his necktie. The sudden countervailing force tightened the tie, strangling the flight attendant. Only by letting go of the passenger was the flight attendant able to breath again.
As this was going on, El Dahr screamed that the pilot should shoot him. Other crew members rushed forward to assist and it ultimately took seven flight attendants to restrain him. At one point, flex ties (plastic handcuffs) were applied, but El Dahr ripped them off. He was again restrained with seat belt extenders, another flex tie, and the same necktie he used to try to strangle the flight attendant.
The flight continued to San Juan, where law enforcement officials met the flight and promptly arrested El Dahr.
Both the FBI, which is investigating the incident, and JetBlue have refused to provide further details. An FBI spokesperson noted:
“Additional investigative efforts are being conducted, and we cannot comment on those efforts at this time.”
Meanwhile, a JetBlue spokesperson said:
“A physical altercation occurred on board with a customer who tried to access the flight deck. We applaud the crew members for their response to this challenging situation and for keeping the other customers on board safe.”
The man is now in custody and faces a lengthy jail sentence. You can read the FBI affidavit here.
Folks, this issue could be a turning point in the battle to secure the skies. Will this bolster Delta’s plan to ban a problematic passenger on one airline from all U.S. airlines? Will it lead to a second cockpit door being installed? Even if insanity played a role (the passenger was most assuredly troubled), does the uptick in violence onboard require a more concrete response than threats of fine and jail time?
We will soon find out.
image: Alan Wilson