Passengers help subdue naked man, running up and down aisle on flight to Alaska
‘I heard him whooping and hollering like he was having a good time, woo-hoo’
A passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Anchorage looked up from his audiobook to see a naked man yelling and heading toward the cockpit.
“I thought it was some kind of attack,” said Nick Steffl.
Steffl confronted the man Monday night as he turned around and ran to the back of the plane. Another passenger helped restrain the man and the jet landed safely about 45 minutes later. The man was transported to an Anchorage hospital.
Steffl, 30, was on his way to Alaska for a summer tourism job. He said Tuesday the incident in retrospect had elements of humour but was not funny high in the sky.
The man was assigned a seat two rows ahead of Steffl near the back of the jet. Steffl noticed the man watching a movie he’d seen, The Disaster Artist. The movie contains a prominent scene with actor James Franco naked.
Steffl did not see the man remove his clothes but looked up to see him 15 rows ahead, running forward, naked.
“I heard him whooping and hollering like he was having a good time, ‘Woo-hoo,’” Steffl said.
The man neared the cockpit, reversed course and ran back.
Steffl weighs about 85kg. He guessed the naked man was about 22 years old and only about 65kg. Steffl unbuckled his seat belt and stood in front of him. The young man went into “bro” mode, Steffl said.
“He said, ‘Hey man, what’s going on?’” Steffl said. “And my adrenaline is just pumping. I’m in flight response, after a guy’s running toward the cockpit after a post 9/11 flight. I was almost raging at that point.”
In a profanity-laced question, Steffl asked the man was he was doing. The man replied with a “smartass” response. Steffl slapped him. The young man was never violent.
“I was the one that got violent,” Steffl said. “I slapped him across the face and he was like, ‘Oh, I like it.’”
Within seconds, another passenger, possibly the young man’s father, pinned his arms behind him and escorted him to the crew work area, Steffl said. Flight attendants swarmed in and may have restrained him. Out of sight, the man shouted out crazy things the rest of the flight, Steffl said.
FBI agents contacted the man in Anchorage but left him in the care of airport police, said FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessio.
Airport spokeswoman Trudy Wassel said airport police responded to a “medical” incident on the flight but that confidentiality rules prohibited her from additional comment.