Two military fighter jets escorted a Honolulu-bound American Airlines aircraft on Friday after a man allegedly tried to break into the cockpit.
The airline said Flight 31, an Airbus A321 aircraft, landed safety at Honolulu International Airport at 11:35 a.m. local time. The flight originated from Los Angeles International Airport.
“Two Pacific Command F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard scrambled this morning in response to a reported disturbance on a civilian airliner making an approach to Honolulu International Airport,” U.S. Navy Commander Dave Benham told CNBC in an emailed statement.
According to the U.S. Pacific Command spokesman, the fighter jets “escorted the airliner to the airport in accordance with homeland defense procedures. Local law enforcement responded once the civilian airliner was on the ground.”
“Due to a disturbance during the flight, the crew requested that law enforcement meet the aircraft upon landing in Honolulu,” American said. “American is in touch with federal law enforcement.”
One of the passengers on the flight has since posted video on Instagram that appears to have been filmed after the plane landed. It shows a handcuffed individual being taken off the plane by FBI agents.
Law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News that the man was detained, arrested but later released after being cited for misdemeanor trespassing. They also have learned the man was born in 1991 and Turkish but no other details on him were immediately available.
“Once the Airbus A321 was in the air, the man allegedly tried to break through the cockpit door,” HawaiiNewsNow reported, citing “multiple sources.”
A federal source who didn’t want to be identified said the man raised suspicion of the crew after he approached the restroom section with a large electronic device. They also confirmed that at one point the man appeared to try to enter the area right behind the secure cockpit door but was restrained by at least two passengers.
NBC station KHNL of Honolulu interviewed passengers departing the flight and they too confirmed the passenger appeared to rush the jetliner’s cockpit door.
“I was just laying there sleeping, I get up, hear a noise,” passenger Tainoa Foster recalled. “Everybody’s like kind of freaking out. I look up and a man has a blanket over his head, and they’re like can somebody please help.”
Added Foster, “I thought he was like tripping at first but I guess …. [he] rushed the cockpit.”
“Well, it was all kind of surreal,” passenger Peggy Lorenzen told the Honolulu station. “It all transpired … so quickly — him rushing the cockpit. It was pretty serious what was going on.”
Added Lorenzen, “There were some sturdy guys back there that were
helping hold him down.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the secretary was briefed on the incident. “DHS is prepared to assist other federal and local law enforcement agencies as they investigate the incident,” the agency said.
A spokesperson for LAX, where the flight departed at 8:43 a.m. local time on Friday, confirmed they were aware of the incident but declined further comment.