Passenger Refuses To Give Up Knife

April 15, 2010

in Passenger Stories

I was flying from Anchorage to Seattle in 2003. The plane had maybe 30 people on it, so there was at least one row per person. I was in row 9, against the right window.

Just before we pushed back from the gate, I overheard a bit of a commotion in row 6, the bulkhead row. After a minute, I asked someone in row 8 what was going on, and he filled me in. The passenger in 6D had somehow gotten through post 9-11 airport security with a 4″ folding knife on his belt. Had he just left it there, it would not have been a problem – I mean, this is Alaska, where that’s not uncommon. But I started to pay closer attention to how this was going to play out.

But no. This guy had removed his boots and socks, removed the knife from its sheath, and was giving himself an amateur pedicure. When the person across from him objected to the flight attendant, the FA asked the man to put his knife away. He refused. She told him that if he would not, she would have to get the captain, and he would come back and insist on keeping the knife with him for the duration of the flight. Again he refused.

Being a former Marine, I know a threat when I see one. A short guy with a knife and an attitude is a threat. I really did NOT want to mix it up with a guy with a knife and an attitude, especially without any room to maneuver, but since I didn’t see anyone else nearby who was any better able to do so than me, I reluctantly did what Marines do – prepare for battle.

First, I told the young mom traveling with her baby seated across the aisle from me to move away from the aisle to the window, to keep them out of harm’s way. The Captain comes back, asks for the knife. Guy says no. Captain explains that if he refuses again, the Captain will have no choice but to have police remove him from the airplane and arrest him. Guy again says no!

By now, all kinds of alarm bells are going off in my head. This guy’s nucking futs! I have now moved to the aisle, seat belt unbuckled, armrest up, mentally and physically preparing to protect other passengers while knowing I will probably get messed up in the process.

What seemed like hours later, the front door opens and two cops come on board. Amazingly (and thankfully), the guy just sat there and waited for the cops, who arrested him without incident and removed him from the plane.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

JJ April 15, 2010 at 7:21 pm



GM69MR April 16, 2010 at 2:56 am



Kyle March 31, 2011 at 4:42 am

Ladies first, and in this case second. 😉
Just a joke guys, please don't kill me. I'm serious. just a joke.


Broomflyer April 16, 2010 at 3:39 am

Thank you for being ready to help, like those blessed heroes on that dreadful 911 flight. If anyone says anything snarky to you on this then they are the idiots. You did the right thing and I would be proud of you if I was your wife.


Elenie April 16, 2010 at 7:53 am

Haha, damn, you want to be the american hero, don't you?!

A guy who cuts his toenails with a knife doesn't seem to be a terrorist in my mind…

And acctually I don't belive you when you say that you would have fought.

I think you are just another wanna-be-hero, a real "hero" doesn't need to talk about his "heroric deed" because he would be modest.

And I also laughed when I read "Broomflyer's" comment… we europeans always make fun of the americans who are still totally impressed when they here "september 11."


Broomflyer May 13, 2010 at 2:38 am

Elenie you are an asshole. I lived in Europe when Sept 11 happened yet I had compassion for those poor people, something you so obviously lack.


Clare April 16, 2010 at 9:21 am

The guy wasn't a terrorist, but just an idiot who couldn't grasp the concept that it isn't couth to use a knife to perform a pedicure on oneself whilst aboard a plane . Sounds more like the OP is an ITG (Internet Tough Guy).


crella April 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm

What would a woman without any training know anyway? That's the ticket ladies, denigrate that which you would not have the guts to do anyway.


Kad April 16, 2010 at 9:41 pm

No insult intended, but you write well, for a marine. Don't shoot the messenger.

Marines are grunts of the best and worst kind. I think you probably saw that as a compliment.

It seems you rely on your marine training, which is commendable, but fail to see that what the training did was bring out what was already best in you. That's what it is supposed to do.

I suspect that without 'marine training' you would be basically the same person, ready to help. Kudos.

Sometime, if you ever plan to travel to my area (London, Ontario), let me know. We'll compare war stories. Mine will include no backup, no reinforcements, no legal authority, but every chance of being in jail for helping someone. Fact.

FYI. I wouldn't have waited for the Captain. The seats are so close, people so close together, I wouldn't have let the guy collect his thoughts, even for a second.

I have the scars to prove that I act, not react.

Sorry if this doesn't seem kindly, but at some point you aren't a marine any more, you are just a civilian. Most civilians know threats when they see one.


Teddy April 19, 2010 at 6:01 am

Thank you for your service


Plargo April 26, 2010 at 3:21 am



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