While deboarding an American Airlines flight, one passenger discreetly filmed a woman who was duct-taped to her seat. Of course, the flight staff’s reason for such an extreme measure is even more disturbing.
American Airlines passengers survived a terrifying ordeal after a woman’s crazed antics disrupted a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Charlotte, NC, the New York Post reports. The flight had already been delayed for several hours before taking off at midnight. However, this was only the beginning of their troubles.
With everything that can go wrong with a 50-ton titanium airbus hurdling through the sky several miles above the earth, passengers sabotaging the flight is the least of their worries. Unfortunately, airline security can only do so much when it comes to unruly and malicious travelers, especially at over 30,000 feet in the air.
In a discreetly recorded video, passengers are shown filing past a woman with silver duct tape over her mouth, presumably around her wrists, and wrapped across her chest and back around the seat to hold her in place. Before she even appears on video, the woman can be heard screaming and pleading with passersby for help.
Flight attendants calmly bid passengers farewell as they shuffle past the restrained woman, who repeatedly shouts “you” and “people” at customers. The customer recording the video then captures EMTs standing next to a gurney at the exit of the plane.
The passenger who recorded the video explained that the lights came on around an hour into the flight “and we see all flight attendants running up and down the aisles, frantically kind of like whispering to each other.” She said crew members then locked the bathrooms and grabbed luggage from the overhead bins in a chaotic manner before the pilot came over the intercom to reveal that there was “a bad situation in the plane right now.”
“Then we’re gradually starting to hear more and more screaming, and we’re like, ‘Wait a minute,’” she noted.
The passenger says a flight attendant told her that a woman with an apparent mental issue “hand an outburst” and became determined to get off the plane. The woman allegedly “went up to the exits and started banging on the doors, saying ‘You need to let me off this plane!'” before biting a flight attendant. American Airlines confirmed that the woman “attempted to open the forward boarding door” and was restrained “for the safety and security” of those on board.
“I guess it took all five flight attendants to subdue her and like literally take her down so,” she said, of the incident, which was first reported by TMZ. “They pretty much took her down, put her in the seat and duct taped her.”
Although there was panic that the woman may have been able to open an emergency exit door midflight, scientists say this is an impossibility for several reasons, including automatic locks and the immense air pressure outside the plane physically preventing this from happening.
“You see that great big handle on the door – that’s actually locked shut,” says Steve Wright, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of the West of England. “When the plane touches down and is taxing to the gate, you’ll hear the pilot say “doors to manual.” It’s only at that point where the pilot has handed off control, and where those doors are actually capable of being opened by someone standing near them.”
While American Airlines has received a backlash for the flight staff’s handling of the situation, much of the response has been in defense of the attendants. Many pointed out that it is of the utmost importance that the flight crew neutralize a threat by any means necessary in order to ensure the safety of the rest of those on board.
The woman was immediately taken to a local hospital for evaluation and was placed on American Airlines’ “internal” no-fly list as an investigation was conducted.
Mental illness or not, the woman had to be restrained so that she couldn’t further endanger herself and those around her. While duct tape isn’t the best method of de-escalation, it certainly worked in this case.