What should have been a few-hour flight from Houston to New York City on Saturday evening turned into an 8-hour slog with a long stopover in Memphis for passengers of United flight 1435, which never made it all the way to its intended destination. All because a passenger decided to rush the cockpit.
A passenger on the plane tells Houston’s Channel 2 that the problem began toward the rear of the plane with a disturbance between some other passengers.
Then one man apparently ran forward up the aisle toward the cockpit.
“Right behind him was a flight attendant saying ‘Sir, you can’t go in there, sir you can’t go in there,'” recalls the passenger, who later recorded the unruly traveler being taken off the plane by authorities. “The guy said, ‘Sir, you have to return to your seat,’ and the guy wouldn’t. So the flight attendant was on the phone covering his mouth.”
She adds, “My husband got up and they just stood in the aisle so he couldn’t rush.”
Thankfully, the man was not able to breach the cockpit, but the flight was diverted to Memphis International after only a little more than an hour in the air.
“We were all like ‘Oh my gosh, can you believe?’ We were shaking,” says the passenger. “I was shaking even after we landed in Memphis… He seemed a little off and he had a black eye. Like the whole white part of his eye was blood red.”
At Memphis, passengers were taken off the plane, which was then searched by authorities because the cockpit-rusher allegedly said something about having a gun, according to the witness.
The passengers on the diverted flight waited for more than three hours before they could finally take off again, landing shortly before 4 a.m., but at Newark International, on the complete opposite side of New York City from their original destination.