HOUSTON — Passengers aboard a Continental Airlines flight bound for Houston Tuesday sprang into action to help a flight attendant having trouble with an unruly passenger. Twenty minutes after the plane departed Portland, pilots returned to the city where the FBI was waiting.
Passengers said the unruly man was a problem from the beginning. After boarding Flight 1113, the man became upset because he was not seated next to his friend.
Then after the flight took off, he ignored the “No Smoking” sign and tried to light an electronic cigarette.
A flight attendant asked the passenger to turn off the cigarette, but he refused. The Middle Eastern man started screaming at the smaller woman.
“He was screaming, ‘Allah is great, Allah is great,’” said Nancy Haywood, passenger. “And it kind of worries you when that happens, but believe me, there were enough men to hold him down.”
And they did. Men on the plane jumped up and ran to assist the flight attendant.
“Every guy that was in my area was ready to go,” said Mark Foster, passenger. “It was not even a thought. You can tell buckles were off and people were already leaning toward the aisles.”
The men subdued the unruly passenger while the flight attendant ran to the back and retrieved plastic handcuffs and ankle cuffs.
“It almost made me cry to see the way everybody responded because the gentlemen that could help got up and helped the stewardess; she was just a little bitty thing,” said Jeanna Wisher. “What happened should have happened, everybody got up and did a part that needed to do it.”
The passenger and his companion were taken into custody when the plane landed. The flight resumed and departed Portland around 2:05 p.m. The rest of the passengers finally arrived in Houston late Tuesday night.
The TSA said the incident was not a security issue.
“Continental Flight 1113, Portland to Houston, returned to Portland when a passenger refused to obey the ‘No Smoking” sign. The passenger and traveling companion were taken off the plane,” Christen David of United/ Continental Corporate Communications said in a released a statement.
It was not known what charges would be filed.