Fighter jets escort plane after passenger tries to sit in first class

Olive Rios
May 24, 2017

"Due to a disturbance during the flight, the crew requested that law enforcement meet the aircraft upon landing in Honolulu", American Airlines said in a statement. The 25-year-old had been drinking, airport police explained in a statement, but wasn't drunk.

Uskanil, a ticketed passenger on an American Airlines flight who had passed through TSA security, was detained after being spotted.

Fellow passengers told Hawaii News Now that he looked disheveled and "out of place" before the flight took off.

Uskanil retrieved the laptop - scowling, Basden's companion said.

Evidently, Uskanil didn't want to return to his seat.

It's unclear how far towards the front of the plane he made it. "Passengers said the man had a blanket or towel on his head, and didn't say anything as he pushed forward", HNN staff reported.

Another passenger named Grant Arakelian said, "He was very quiet, moving very sluggish". But a flight attendant said it probably belonged to a man who was in the bathroom.

One passenger who spoke to HawaiiNewsNow, a consortium of three television network affiliates, said a first-class flight attendant deserved much of the credit for preventing the suspect from reaching the cockpit.

Lorenzen says other passengers grabbed the man.

He said the man was pushing against the cart, trying to get through. "They found some duct tape". There were pillows and blankets.

Though Airport police smelled alcohol on Uskanli's breath, he was not intoxicated enough to be held for public drunkenness, so they cited and released him.

Reports indicate Uskanil was restrained with duct tape for the duration of the flight, and two planes from the Hawaii Air National Guard escorted the plane once the flight staff called for help. As a spokesman explained to Reuters, "the F-22s escorted the airliner to the airport in accordance with homeland defense procedures".

Federal authorities plan to charge the passenger with interference with a flight crew, Paul Delacourt of Honolulu's Federal Bureau of Investigation told a press conference.

It was not immediately clear if Uskanil has a representing attorney. But intelligence officials have been on alert after warnings of possible terrorist group efforts to hide bombs in laptop computers and other electronic devices.

Laptops are not now banned on USA domestic flights, but have been outlawed in carry-on baggage from a number of global destinations, over security concerns.

Anil Tuvanc Uskanli kicked a service cart and was subsequently handcuffed to the seat after refusing to sit, said Turkey's official news agency Anadolu. Flight attendants asked him to return to his seat and he refused, the source said.

The incident occurred about 30 minutes into the flight, which departed LAX at 8:34 a.m. and was scheduled to land at 11:35 local time in Honolulu.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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