A Turkish national accused of causing a disturbance aboard a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, hours after being detained at LAX for allegedly opening a door leading to the airfield, was charged Monday in Hawaii with a federal count of interfering with a flight crew.

Anil Uskanli. Image via YouTube.com
Anil Uskanli, 25, was arrested Friday when American Airlines flight 31, an Airbus A321 with 181 passengers and six crew members aboard, landed in Honolulu. He was subdued aboard the plane by the flight crew and passengers.

According to passengers, Uskanli initially tried to sit in First Class with his laptop but was told to return to his coach seat by a flight attendant.

Shortly after the plane took off, Uskanli “started to exhibit strange behavior, including talking about being a famous actor and repeatedly moving his laptop from the seatback to under the seat,” according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Hawaii. “According to one passenger sitting in the row in front of Uskanli, he was uttering things and talking to himself. These passengers reported the strange behavior to a flight attendant.”

According to the affidavit, Uskanli boarded the flight with no checked or carry-on luggage, carrying only a laptop, cell phone, phone charger and assorted items in his pocket. At one point, he went into a bathroom but didn’t lock the door, and another passenger walked in on him.

Eventually, he wrapped a blanket around his head, picked up his laptop and walked back into First Class and tried to make his way toward the cockpit, but he was thwarted by a flight attendant who used a beverage cart to block his path, according to the affidavit. Some passengers, including an off-duty police officer, helped subdue Uskanli.

One passenger told reporters Uskanli was restrained in a seat with duct tape. The flight attendants took away his laptop and notified the captain, who reported a potential bomb threat, according to the affidavit. The report prompted the Hawaii Air National Guard to deploy a pair of F-22 fighter jets to escort the airliner to the ground.

The FBI boarded the flight when it landed in Honolulu, and Uskanli was taken off the plane in handcuffs.

“Crazy! Someone tried to break into the cockpit on my flight from LA to Honolulu,” a passenger wrote on Instagram, in a message accompanied by a video of Uskanli being taken off the plane. “We were greeted by the FBI. They are now taking us off the plane a few rows at a time for dog sniffing and interviews. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

According to Hawaii News Now, Uskanli was in the United States on a student visa, attending an acting school in Santa Monica.

According to Los Angeles Airport Police Public Information Officer Rob Pedregon, at about 2:45 a.m. Friday, Uskanli went through a door that led from the Terminal 5 concourse at LAX to an airfield ramp, but was spotted by a contractor and detained.

Uskanli was a ticketed American Airlines passenger who had cleared Transportation Security Administration screening, according to Pedregon.

“Airport police investigated and determined Uskanli had been drinking but did not meet the criteria for drunk in public,” Pedregon said. “A police K-9 searched and cleared the area.”

Uskanli was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing, cited, given a court date and released, according to Pedregon.

He later boarded the American Airlines flight, which left LAX at about 8:30 a.m. Friday.

— City News Service

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