A 35-year-old man forcibly restrained a half-naked woman who tried to storm the cockpit of a plane after flight attendants found themselves unable to deal with the terrifying situation. "I spoke to staff and said, 'Why have you not put her to the floor?' father-of-three Phillip O'Brien recounts. "They said, 'We're not able to.' I said, 'Well I am.'" Here is how the story unfolded.
Terror In the Skies
Flying can be scary at the best of times—which is why this situation on a Jet2 flight from Lanarca, Cyprus to Manchester, UK was so terrifying. The female passenger, who was in her 30s, caused panic just after take off on August 9. "Everything was normal and then shortly after take-off a woman walked up the aisle naked and banged on the cockpit door shouting 'Allahu Akbar,'" O'Brien told the Mirror. The woman claimed to have explosives on board the plane and was asking people if they were "ready to die."
Hero O'Brien Jumps Into Action
O'Brien was traveling with six members of his family, including his three children aged between eight and 14. He leaped into action and restrained the woman to her chair after she said her parents were in terror group ISIS. "So when the woman went to the cockpit again I took control, took her to the ground and at that point the pilot did an emergency landing to Paris," O'Brien says. When he asked her why she was making those claims, she replied, "If I didn't, there's going to be an explosion, and everybody is going to die."
How Did She Get Through Security?
Another passenger on the flight says her daughter was terrified by the incident. "I was more worried about my daughter — she was so scared, she had a massive panic attack," the eyewitness told the Daily Mail. "You were just terrified of what she was going to do when you closed your eyes. It was just crazy. At first it looked like she was drunk — she had the suitcase on her head. The cabin crew said she wasn't drunk as they had smelt her breath. I don't know how she got through security."
Grounded In Paris
The plane made an emergency landing in Paris and the woman was escorted off the plane. "The cabin crew said 'we've asked the pilot to call this in as an emergency landing,'" says the eyewitness. "It didn't feel like a terrorist incident. We landed in Paris and sat on the plane for an hour while they sorted out the logistics. The French refused to refuel us, I think because it was around 3 or 4 am."
The Price Of Bad Behavior
Causing chaos on a flight can not only get you permanently banned from flying, but it can also end up becoming very expensive—and deservedly so. The Federal Aviation Administration fined two passengers a record-breaking $159,000 for physically assaulting a flight attendant and other passengers.
Escalating passenger violence has led to a bill being introduced in Congress to permanently ban passengers who assault flight crew. "We're here today to stand up for the 99.99999 percent of travelers who've had enough of bad behavior," says US Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). "Our bill seeks to help make the friendly skies a little friendlier — and safer. There should be zero tolerance for violence aboard an airplane. And our message is simple: If you assault a flight crew member and compromise the safety of others aboard the aircraft, you're going to be grounded. Because major disturbances in the cabin can compromise the safety of everyone on board a flight. This bill will help reduce incidents of in-flight violence and hold unruly passengers accountable if they break the law."