Aviation expert talks safety after Tampa man disrupts Delta flight

Passengers sometimes are asked to get involved if there's a problem in midflight.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Imagine that you're stuck on a plane, in the air and a passenger near you starts to cause a commotion.

What do you do?

That's the situation passengers on a Delta flight faced Thursday evening.

Tampa native Joseph Hudek is accused of causing a brawl on a flight from Seattle to Beijing after trying to open one of the airplane's doors.

Witnesses say he fought two flight attendants and several passengers.

Bob Waag, who was flying out of Tampa International, says he would hop in if faced with a similar situation.

“Nobody has any right to abuse people like that,” Waag said.  “I’d probably at least go, ‘Hey do you need some help?’”

That’s what you should do according to aviation expert Capt. Patrick Major. He used to own a flight school and has lots of experience with airline safety.

“From what I could read and what I saw, everybody involved did exactly what they were supposed to to the best of their ability, including the passengers on the air plane,” he said.

But, he also says stepping up to help can also be counterproductive.

“Stepping in at the wrong time without their request, that could be a problem. That could exacerbate a situation they have under control.”

So, he says, use your judgment in the situation, but always try to wait and listen.

“A flight crew member has a set of procedures that they follow, getting out of sequence in those procedures could be hazardous.”

According to Delta, a significant portion of training focuses on safety, which includes teaching them physical defense, when to ask other flight attendants for help and as a last resort, asking passengers to step in. 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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