a bottle of wine next to a glass

Right off the bat- this is not another United Airlines style incident. This was a flight attendant using incredible instinct to protect a flight full of passengers from a lunatic. A Thursday evening Delta flight from Seattle to Beijing almost had that nightmare scenario-of a passenger attempting to open the airplane door mid-flight (that’s not good) become a reality, if not for some vino…

a glass of wine next to a ticketThe Scenario

Delta Flight 129 departed Seattle on time Thursday night-bound for Beijing. An hour after take off, a rather uneventful flight became something too wild for Hollywood, when a passenger traveling on an airline employee “buddy pass”, flying business class went to the lavatory. Moments after shutting the lavatory door, he frantically ran out of the lavatory, bound for the planes’ exit door. He attempted to open the handle, getting it half way up, before having two bottles of dessert wine smashed over his head. If you didn’t appreciate port before, you certainly should now. Though the man couldn’t have been successful due to pressurization, a cockpit alarm announcing the disarmed door is said to have gone off…

a white and blue airplane in the skyBut Wait…

But that didn’t stop him. The man managed to smash a bottle over a passengers head while resisting, wrestling with crew and passengers alike. At this point- it’s fair to say that Joseph Hudek IV, the perpetrator- was a mad man. This was seriously dangerous. Despite suffering severe facial lacerations and injuries from a seemingly unstoppable Hudek, who presumably was on some insane regiment of drugs and alcohol, a group of passengers and crew finally managed to subdue Hudek, tie him to his seat and subdue him until the plane could make an emergency landing back in Seattle. We should be incredibly grateful to the crew for their swift, instinctual reactions. This may be the first occasion where spilling wine was completely acceptable.

Space Needle skyline with a tall towerThe Conclusion To The Madness…

According to reports, Hudek’s madness didn’t stop on the plane. While being transported to jail, tied to a wheelchair, Hudek managed to resist-tipping over the wheelchair in the airport and continuing to shout “Do you know who I am”… because that often leads to good things. Kudos to the crew, kudos to the passengers seated in Delta One Business Class who quite literally rose to the occasion even getting injured to protect the flight. The man faces up to 20 years in jail- let’s hope he gets every single one of them.

Was this excessive force, or was it just right?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Crew (and passengers who assisted) are to be thanked and admired. Another reminder that their primary function is safety not service.
    …sad that someone with mental health issues attempted this but good to see a positive outcome and hope US system gives him appropriate treatment as well as punishment for endangering so many lives.

  2. He wouldn’t have been able to open the door once the cabin was pressurized. Explanation here: http://www.askthepilot.com/questionanswers/exits/

    I don’t like correcting people in public, but as someone with his share of anxiety issues, I wouldn’t want fearful flyers concerned that this really could happen.

    That being said, he was a threat to the safety of the passengers and the wine spillage and the force used against him was justified.

  3. Aren’t you a ‘lil bit late on this articles? Others in boardingarea.com already covered it including discussion as whether this is an excessive force. They also posted pictures of official charges by the FBI. You gotta step up your game, Gilbert. I like your blog, please don’t fall behind.

    1. Sorry, I was just in the air for 15 hours flying back and forth between Germany on a same day return. Much of my audience is not “boarding area”, so many people found this to be news. I am sorry that it was not timely enough.

  4. The flyer talk thread has soon great info in it including the fact that the crew believed he could have opened the door

  5. He was on a “dependent pass” as his mother is a Delta res agent. Very sad as she most likely will lose all her privledges.
    He knew better but decided to take whatever he took to act the way he did. He deserved the hit on the head and more if necessary.

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