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I am writing a story in which the hero is an airline Captain. The scene involves an unruly, intoxicated passenger. He is belligerent, harassing the flight attendants, and eventually injures a nearby passenger. Now, this really did happen on a flight I was on, but the flight attendant handled him with finesse and actually had him booted from the plane prior to take off. In my story I need the Captain to be involved because this all unfolds in flight. At what point is the Captain notified his assistance is needed, what does he do to deal with the unruly passenger? Does he alert the police at the Airport? Does he move the passenger?
Thank you.

Hi Chris, Under today's environment pilots don't leave the cockpit to handle problems. In your case, with an injury to a passenger, the pilot would simply divert to the nearest airport and have him arrested. He would have been notified as soon the flight attendant was aware of the problem unfolding.

However, in the days before 9/11 things were a little different. If an unruly or drunken passenger presented a problem a pilot would go back and try to explain to the passenger the need to behave or be deplaned and arrested. The authority figure of a pilot and the quiet explanation was usually enough to calm them down.

In the case where an injury had already happened the pilot may have gotten assistance from crew members and other passengers and subdued and put the offender in handcuffs. Of course if possible the offender would be moved away from other passengers.

Since 9/11 all procedures and efforts are designed to keep passengers away from the pilots and cockpit.  


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Ned Dolan


38 years as a professional pilot. Worked as an instructor for a major airline, as a tow pilot towing gliders and flew international routes until 1998. Do not know much about the maintenance end of the business.


Teaching new Captains the skills and knowledge needed to occupy the position. Helping develop procedures for use in a new airplane type. (B757)

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