July 6: Delta Airlines Flight 129 from Seattle to Beijing was forced to return to Sea-Tac Airport less than an hour after the flight took off.
Delta released this statement:
“Flight 129 returned to Seattle following a security incident with a passenger. The passenger was restrained onboard and was removed from the flight by law enforcement without further incident when the aircraft arrived back in Seattle. The flight is scheduled to re-depart for Beijing later this evening.”
Passengers recount the incident, which began in the first-class portion of the plane, as concerning, but stated that most of the flight crew and passengers remained relatively calm throughout the ordeal.
A witness seated directly behind the curtain that separates first-class passengers from the rest of the plane, said he knew was there was something going on. Then, he explained:
“One of the flight attendants ran back and said there was a Code 3. There was a serious fight up front.”
Witnesses say the 23-year-old man was pacing up and down the plane’s aisle near the bathroom area, then began trying to open the airplane door, saying he needed air. When a flight attendant tried to intervene, he punched the flight attendant, according to the recount.
Britteny Gardner, who was on the flight, said that in the main cabin, they heard an announcement asking for a doctor.
“Somebody that was working had blood on their shirt,” Gardner said.
An announcement was heard stating that there was a security incident, and that they needed to return to Sea-Tac.
More witnesses from the flight explained that two bottles of wine were broken over the man’s head in an attempt to subdue him. One man recounted that he tried to hold the offender’s neck, but thrown off like a rag doll.
Yet another man claims he had to sit on the alleged assaulter in order to restrain him until the flight returned to the Seattle.
The flight, which departed at 5:30 p.m., returned at 7:10 p.m.
Once at Sea-Tac, the alleged assaulter, handcuffed and zip-tied to a wheelchair, turned the wheelchair over and began yelling for help.
The Delta flight was rescheduled following the incident.
The FBI told Sea-Tac officials there is no information that indicates the incident is a threat to national security.