The story of Thursday’s Delta flight DL129 from Seattle – Beijing flight that had to turn around is finally coming out. We knew there was an unruly passenger in business class. Now we know who it was — and just how insane his actions were.
Twenty three year old Joseph Hudek IV was sitting in Delta business class, seat 1D, went for the exit door and tried to open it about an hour after takeoff. Flight attendants tried to stop him. Then other passengers got involved in the altercation.
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) July 7, 2017
The man broke a wine bottle over one of the passengers. He punched several passengers as well.
He actually managed to get the exit door’s level turned halfway up (although he wouldn’t have managed to actually open the door). A door disarmed alarm went off in the cockpit.
A flight attendant smashed two wine bottle on Hudek, one even broke, but he wasn’t stopped. He declared, “Do you know who I am??” He was put in a headlock, but he got out of it, though was finally subdued by several passengers and tied back in his seat.
Non-revenue passengers, employees or friends and family on ‘buddy passes’, have higher expected standards of behavior than customers. This time it was a non-rev passenger who caused the diversion. I’d hate to be the employee who sponsored his travel..
Earlier reporting on the story had suggested that fighter jets scrambled to intercept the plane — a precaution against it having been taken over by terrorists, in case an order to shoot it down might be given — but that turns out to be false.
Lt. Commander Joe Nawrocki, a NORAD spokesman, clarified that jets were ready on the runway, but never took off. Air traffic control recordings from LiveATC.net indicated that F-15s at Portland International Airport were preparing to meet the Delta flight, but never departed.
Hudek faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. For those of you playing the Germany or Florida game this man was from Florida, natch.
It’s unclear whether or to what extent drugs, alcohol or other impairment were involved — or that the man simply realized he was about to spend over 11 hours in a Delta 767 to Asia.
Amazingly the flight wasn’t cancelled, just delayed, eventually taking off again from Seattle after midnight.