Khalil El Dahr, a passenger on a JetBlue flight traveling from Boston to San Juan, Puerto Rico, was taken into custody after he allegedly stormed the cockpit and tried to attack members of the flight crew.
The incident happened last Wednesday and according to the affidavit, the passenger was on the flight when he became angry that a phone call he was trying to make was unsuccessful. Forty-five minutes before the end of the flight, Dahr got up from his seat and tried to storm the cockpit.
According to witnesses on the flight, the man was yelling in Spanish that someone should shoot and kill him. A flight attendant tried to defuse the situation, and stop Khalil El Dahr from storming the cockpit, but when the pilots opened the cockpit door, Dahr became so angry that he allegedly tried to choke the flight attendant with a tie.
The passenger also grabbed the overhead compartment so he could have enough room to kick the flight attendant in the chest. According to the FBI’s affidavit, “While he was yelling, he was still holding the JetBlue flight attendant by their tie,” the affidavit said. “This resulted in the tie tightening and ultimately prevented the JetBlue flight attendant from breathing.”
It took six or seven members of the flight crew to diffuse the situation and finally get ahold of the passenger. They ended up having to tie Khalil El Dahr to his seat with four seatbelt extenders, flex cuffs, and a uniform’s tie for the duration of the flight.
The passenger was met at the San Juan airport by police and he was put into custody and charged with felony charges of interfering with a flight crew.
This is not the first time that a unhinged passenger has gone off the rails while on a plane. This year alone, 4,300 crazy passengers have been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration. While not all of them stormed the cockpit, many of them became angry with members of the flight crew when they were asked to wear masks. According to the FAA, three out of four of the incidents were mask-related.
The problem is getting so bad that flight attendants are pleading with the government to do something about it and Delta Airlines is suggesting that airlines come together to share their no-fly lists so that unruly passengers can’t get on any flight regardless of airline.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA agreed with the airline and said that there should be a database of passengers who have caused incidents. The Association represents nearly 50,000 members of flight crew across multiple airlines. Flight attendants have been taking the brunt of the unruly passengers. Flight crews said that there biggest problem since the pandemic is “air rage.”
Teddy Andrews, a flight attendant who works with American Airlines, said that he has lost count of how many times he has been threatened since coming back to work during the pandemic. Passengers have even called him the N-word.
Andrews said “These days I come to work anticipating disruptive behavior. Our colleagues are anxious, fearful. What is going to happen on the next flight? How will this passenger react if I remind them to wear their mask? Will complying with airline policies set them off? Can I avoid engaging, or would that be an evasion of my duties?”
The House of Representatives will have a hearing today to discuss the high percentage of angry passengers on flights and what needs to happen to prevent more passengers from developing air rage.