A man was escorted off a Seattle-bound flight in handcuffs Monday morning after crew members said he tried to open one of the plane’s doors mid-air.
The plane was en route to Sea-Tac from JFK International Airport in New York but was diverted to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport so the man could be taken off the flight.
Shoshana Godwin, a passenger who was sitting next to him on Alaska Airlines Flight 7, said he was acting oddly even as they boarded.
“He kept stopping to go into his bag and then I watched him take a pill out of his bag,” she said.
She told KIRO 7 the man, whom she estimates to be in his 20s, was quiet and seemed to be falling asleep until the flight attendant stopped by for beverage service.
“He said he need to cancel his flight and get off the plane and just was kind of speaking a little gibberish,” Godwin said.
She credits the crew with keeping the situation under control, especially the flight attendant.
“She handled it so well,” she said. “She was very calm, and just said, you know, ‘Sir, come stay with me in the back, we can talk through this.’”
Melinda Iverson, also a passenger, watched it all play out.
“The air marshals were there quick,” she said. “The flight attendants were sort of surrounding him and I felt more sorry for him than anything.”
The flight crew radioed to land in Minnesota, saying they were “dropping off one of our passengers early,” and wanted to have somebody to “greet this customer, [who was] having a difficult time working and playing well with others.”
Passengers were told it was a medical emergency as they descended and he was escorted off the plane.
“I think someone may have been a little bit stressed out about flying and took too much medication, honestly,” Godwin said.
The flight finally arrived at Sea-Tac around 1 p.m. PST.
Alaska Airlines said it is physically impossible to open an aircraft door while the aircraft is pressurized and in flight.
It is unclear if the man will face any charges. Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport police questioned him and determined he presented a danger to himself. He was taken to Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minnesota.
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