by Gavin Haines, The Telegraph, July 10, 2017
It all kicked off on a Delta Air Lines flight last week. According to a criminal complaint filed on Friday, a flight attendant was forced to smash a bottle of red wine over the head of a crazed first class passenger who was trying to open the emergency exit.
The passenger, identified as Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, allegedly made for the door an hour into the Chicago to Beijing flight; he is then believed to have punched a cabin attendant who tried to subdue him.
The crew then reportedly smashed a bottle of plonk over Mr Hudek’s head, before restraining him with the help of other passengers.
As the scuffle unfolded, the pilot was forced to return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport where, according to Delta, Mr Hudek was taken away by law enforcement officers.
This is not the only reported incident of a first class passenger going rogue. If you thought the front end of an aircraft attracted a more salubrious clientele, think again…
Delta is no stranger to “unruly” first class passengers. In 2012, one of its planes was forced to divert after a couple from Germany allegedly became disruptive due to a lack of champagne during an Atlanta to Costa Rica flight. Peter and Gabriele Strohmaier were accused of standing up to demand food and fizz after the aircraft took off from Atlanta. The plane was then diverted to Tampa International Airport where the couple were ejected. No charges were filed against Mr and Mrs Strohmaier, who denied they had been disruptive.
Perhaps the most famous first class outburst came from Cho Hyun-ah, who was sentenced to jail in 2015 after going nuts over, well, some nuts. Ms Cho became enraged when she was served macadamia nuts in a packet rather than on a plate during a New York to Seoul service with Korean Air, for whom her father is chairman and chief executive.
The plane was taxiing to a runway at JFK Airport when a disruptive Ms Cho forced the aircraft to return to the terminal to replace the offending steward. Ms Cho was subsequently charged with forcing a flight to change its normal route, using violence against flight crew, hindering a government probe and forcing the flight’s purser off the plane. She was jailed for one year in February 2015, but three months later an appeals court overturned her conviction for the most serious charge of altering an aircraft’s route. She walked free in May 2015. The incident is now commonly referred to as “nutgate”.
Armed police removed a first class passenger from a plane last month after he reportedly threatened to blow up the jet. The man, who hasn’t been named, is alleged to have made the threats aboard an Alaska Airlines service from Seattle to Anchorage. He was questioned by police when the plane touched down in Alaska, but was released without charge. Witnesses claim the passenger was intoxicated, though the airline could not confirm this.
Courtney Love was arrested at Heathrow Airport in 2003 after Virgin cabin crew reported her for “verbally abusive” behaviour. Police were called before the plane landed on the overnight flight from Los Angeles, where Love, then singer with the band Hole, was travelling in a Virgin Upper Class Cabin.
As she left the police station, she told the press: “I cussed at a lady – my daughter always said I had a potty mouth.” Virgin later agreed to fly Love back to Los Angeles after she charmed the airline’s chairman, Sir Richard Branson, at a party.
Two first class passengers had a booze-fuelled fist fight aboard an American Airlines jet in 2013, Texan media reported. The flight had been travelling from San Antonio to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport when the scuffle broke out. Local media outlets, citing a police report, claimed the two male passengers got into a verbal dispute on the plane which soon escalated into a bloody fist fight. Police officers intercepted the men when the plane arrived at its destination; it is understood the FBI did not charge either passenger with assault. One of the men, however, was charged with public intoxication.