Between United Airlines’ viral (and violent) ejection of Dr. David Dao and footage of a Delta Airlines pilot hitting a passenger in the midst of an airport fight, carriers haven’t had a lot of good press as of late. Yet airline employees aren’t always the villains in these stories, as demonstrated by the news of a Florida man’s attempt to open the exit door during a flight from Seattle, Washington to Beijing, China on Thursday. In fact, two flight attendants, a passenger and a wine bottle are the real heroes of this story.
23-year-old Joseph Daniel Hudek IV left his first class seat an hour into the flight and attempted to open the exit door near the cockpit of Delta Flight 129. As CNN notes, the suspect was unable to open the door due to the “differing pressures inside and outside the jet’s cabin,” but that didn’t stop him from moving the door handle and the emergency release lever before two flight attendants and a passenger intervened. Hudek punched one of the attendants “twice in the face,” hit the passenger with a wine bottle and tried the door again.
As the struggle continued, another flight attendant grabbed two wine bottles and struck Hudek in the head, breaking one.
“Hudek did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full-liter red wine bottle over his head, and instead, shouted ‘Do you know who I am?” or something to that extent,” according to the complaint. Hudek was able to break away several times during the altercation.
With the help of additional passengers, Hudek was ultimately subdued and handcuffed, but remained “extremely combative” during Flight 129’s emergency return trip to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Facing one count of interfering with a flight crew, the rowdy Florida resident faces fines up to $250,000 and as much as 20 years in prison.