A passenger tried to rush the cockpit of a JetBlue flight on Wednesday before kicking and choking a flight attendant, according to an FBI affidavit. The man identified as Khalil El Dahr had become angry after trying unsuccessfully to make a phone call about an hour before the flight from Boston was due to land in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a flight attendant told the FBI, according to the document obtained by the Daily Beast. About half an hour later, he allegedly rushed toward the cockpit, shouting in Spanish and Arabic to be shot, per ABC News.
A flight attendant "corralled" the passenger until a pilot opened the flight deck door, at which point the passenger allegedly grabbed the flight attendant by the collar and tie. El Dahr choked the flight attendant, then kicked him in the chest, all while shouting for the pilot to shoot him, the affidavit reads. "While he was yelling, he was still holding the JetBlue flight attendant by their tie," which "resulted in the tie tightening and ultimately prevented the JetBlue flight attendant from breathing."
Six or seven crew members were able to restrain the man in flex cuffs, though he soon broke out of them. The crew then used a new pair of flex cuffs, four seat-belt extenders, and a flight attendant's neck tie to restrain him to a seat, according to the affidavit. He now faces felony charges of interfering with a flight crew. This comes amid a surge in attacks on airline workers, with more than 4,300 incidents of unruly passengers reported to the FAA so far this year.
Only a day later, a 32-year-old passenger on a Hawaiian Airlines flight departing Honolulu was arrested for third-degree assault after allegedly punching a male flight attendant twice, per Hawaii News Now. The airline said the incident was "unprovoked" and the flight attendant had been "walking down the aisle." The alleged assailant, Steven Sloan, Jr., could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of assaulting an airline crew member. The flight attendant "was shaken up but is doing well," the airline said. (Read more unruly passenger stories.)