After 9/11, accordingly there was a huge increase in airline passenger security awareness. The airlines made stringent regulations and we as Americans accepted it as what was best for us. Now, with the recent headlines of violence and chaos on domestic airline flights, I wanted to offer some brief thoughts for the Civilian Operator who is also the frequent flyer. Unfortunately, it was not a foreign or domestic terrorist that made these headlines, but actual employees of the airline itself, in one instance the Captain of the Aircraft! It is ironic to me with the debacle that is called the TSA and the hyper-security atmosphere of post 9/11, that the threat came from the people you put your trust in to protect you and get you from point A to point B.
So…What if you are caught in the middle of one of these situations? What are your options? As a sidenote, it goes without saying that if there is Law Enforcement present, let them handle the situation but assist them if necessary!
I will not beat the dead horse of awareness here, as I should not have too by now. Let’s make it KISS by saying anything out of the ordinary, identify and keep an eye on it. In the two cases that were in the headlines, this would not have been too hard, as in both cases the people started ranting loudly, drawing attention. But in some cases, it may not be so obvious. Identify people who speak or act strangely.. you will be able tell pretty fast if they are mentally challenged, drunk or on drugs, or just have ill intent. Sadly, mental issues seem to be the connecting factor in these cases.
The smart way to approach and train for these types of situations is by using the force continuum. For situations like what we saw in the recent headlines, we would need some simple restraint and pain compliance techniques to get the subject under control until the plane can be landed. An “arm drag” as demonstrated by Kelly Mccann above is a good restraint technique, it subdues the subject quickly and avoids the situation escalating further and also the subject can be “led” quite easily either to the front or rear of the cabin, away from the other nervous passengers. (I urge you to check out any of Kelly’s other stuff..it is all top notch and street proven.) The big challenge is how to navigate fighting inside the tight confines of an aircraft and in between the rows of seats filled with elderly or child passengers? You will need to take the subject down in the aisle, trying to avoid pummeling nearby passengers, and get the subject moved to the front or rear of the cabin, where there is more room to work and restrain the hands and feet properly with whatever you have (neck ties, belts, etc.)
In most of these situations, other passengers will be more than happy to help you, but don’t always count on it. Sometimes I have seen people reluctant to do anything in these situations for fear of lawsuit, so be preapred to deal with it yourself if it comes to that. (As for the lawsuit, and this goes for any self-defense situation; don’t worry yourself, just CYA and ensure that any reasonable person could easily see this person was a threat to themselves or others..anybody can sue anybody, but that in itself means nothing..it is the merit’s of the case that matter! Read: Good Samaritan Law.)
This is where we start to think creatively as far as improvised weapons. What can you bring with you and what will be laying around on the plane? The most obvious items to start with are wardrobe attire: belts and heavy shoes. If you do not own a good sturdy leather belt for everyday wear, you need to buy one. A belt can save your butt in numerous ways. Here is a small list: Tourniquet, climbing loop, knuckle cover, whip, restraint cord and door lock. Heavy shoes or boots make your kicks more potent and also are excellent Slaps or Blakjacks when taken off.. they also can be thrown at short distances if need be.
I won’t take up your time listing obvious items you might have in your carry own…remember anything with a semi-point can be used to thrust..get creative! I will list a few things laying around on the plane that could come in handy. Rolled up Magazines make excellent striking and thrusting weapons. If you can make it or are near the galley, boiling pots of hot water thrown in the face or bare skin, or just whacking somebody in the head with a metal pitcher or coffee pot will do the trick..forget fancy techniques…get brutal if you have too!
In closing, post 9/11 airline security is not exactly a fresh topic, but we can never grow complacent just because something is always in our face..as we have seen, the threat can come from unexpected places!