Mid-air drama as man tries to 'escape' flight
A SUNSHINE Coast man battled with a passenger who tried to open the exit door on a flight from Singapore to Frankfurt and has called on Singapore Airlines to clean up its act.
Peregian retiree Goetz von Schweinfurth found himself having to take charge when the man repeatedly attempted to "escape".
"He was on a mission - he felt the plane was not a plane," Mr von Schweinfurth said.
"He felt it was on land and he was going to get off it at all costs."
The 12-hour flight on September 25 arrived safely after a six-hour mid-air "shoving match" in which Mr von Schweinfurth "shadowed", wrestled and restrained the man.
"Everyone was so scared, everyone was afraid," he said.
"Had the door flung open that's it, it would have been very serious."
The former foreign affairs worker said his martial arts skills and experience working in rough parts of Papua New Guinea had prepared him for such incidents, but he was shocked that the crew had not acted swiftly to restrain the man themselves.
"I don't mind helping out in life but they shouldn't have relied on me," he said.
"I sat there for six hours helping them out, and this guy was just up and down like a yoyo.
"I kept telling them to inform the captain that we must secure this passenger with handcuffs or restrain him.''
He said he was shocked that staff had appeared to need his guidance and failed to take action.
Mr von Schweinfurth, who speaks fluent German, was asked by a flight attendant to help communicate with the man, an Austrian.
"I was relied on for almost six hours to nurse maid him, and to address whatever he may do," he said.
"I don't have an issue with helping anybody but I felt that Singapore Airlines, that's their role and their duty to make sure people are safe."
An airline spokesman confirmed the incident took place.
"We can share that our cabin crew were assisted by another passenger to control and calm a passenger who was behaving in a disorderly manner on flight SQ25 from Frankfurt to Singapore,'' the spokesman said.
"The disorderly passenger was met by authorities upon arrival in Singapore."
The spokesman said the safety and security of customers were a top priority.
"Flight crew are trained to recognise and deal with customers who display errant behaviour in order not to compromise the safety and comfort of others," he said.
"Regrettably, we are unable to share details about security measures in place as it is our policy not to disclose security matters publicly."
The Daily understands the incident was being investigated by Singapore Police Force's Airport Police Division.
Mr von Schweinfurth said he expected to be called as a witness but was told last month the case had been resolved.