'He was screaming like a wild animal'
Passenger tries to open emergency door on Sydney-S'pore flight before storming into toilet
She had a front row seat to the horror unfolding in the aircraft - not once, but twice - on what was supposed to be an eight-hour flight from Australia.
Less than 2m away from her, a man dashed down the aisle and tried to open the emergency door as the Boeing 777-200 was flying from Sydney to Singapore.
The angry man had shouted repeatedly "let me out of here" on board the Scoot flight on Wednesday.
The Australian woman, who wanted to be known only as Ms Denise, told The New Paper yesterday: "He had rage in his eyes and he was screaming like a wild animal.
"I freaked out and thought to myself: 'You've got to be kidding me.' All I could think of was my son, who was sitting directly in front of where the mad man was standing."
Ms Denise was afraid that the man would use her son as a shield when confronted by the crew.
But when the Caucasian man in a white T-shirt and jeans failed to get the emergency exit open, he stormed into the empty toilet nearby. He continued to scream and kicked the door violently.
This was Ms Denise's opportunity to flee to safety. She grabbed her 13-year-old son, Beau, and made a dash to safety.
Beau, who was returning to Singapore for a school examination the next day, said: "At this stage, my mother and I left our seats and ran towards the front of the plane and informed one of the flight attendants."
They were seated in Business Class.
The incident had occurred within an hour after TZ001 had left Sydney.
Unknown to Ms Denise then, the incident was connected to an earlier announcement - made 20 minutes after take-off - asking for medical personnel.
Ms Denise, 48, who has been working in Singapore for the last 13 years, said: "Two paramedics and a doctor volunteered and attended to a woman who appeared to be experiencing an anxiety attack."
The man - believed to be in his 30s - who had tried to open the emergency door was the woman's partner.
Luckily, the crew managed to get the man out of the toilet and moved him to the rear of the aircraft.
But the drama was far from over.
For the next 45 minutes, the crew, a few volunteers and medical personnel wrestled and tried to restrain the man. At least one Singaporean helped by securing the man's legs with flexi-cuffs.
The 28-year-old marketing executive, who wanted to known only as Mr Chia, said: "He was skinny but strong. The five or six of us found it difficult to stop him from breaking free. He was rough and kicked a lot."
A few of those who helped suffered bruises and scratches to their hands or bodies as a result.
Soon, passengers were informed that the flight was landing in Bali to allow the couple to leave the plane.
The man had by then mellowed and he was escorted out of the aircraft with a drip attached to his arm.
Ms Denise said: "I heard him saying that this was 'so embarrassing'."
But just when the passengers thought it was safe to relax and wait out their two-hour delay in peace on the Bali airport tarmac, Part 2 of the drama was about to begin.
While waiting for the couple's luggage to be removed from the aircraft, another passenger, dressed in a polo T-shirt and bermudas, decided to run up the aisle with his hands clasped in a gesture of prayer.
He kept saying he was "sorry", said Ms Denise. His actions startled the passengers once again.
"Everybody started to feel threatened after the previous incident," she said.
"The next incident only made more passengers tense."
Beau said the man, who seemed drunk, hurled vulgarities at the flight attendants.
He said: "He had shouted 'it's your fault if I die'."
The man was also escorted off the plane.
Ms Denise said: "We were traumatised on this flight.
"Just what are the chances of two stressful incidents happening on one flight, one after another?
"Luckily, the flight crew and volunteers did their best to contain the situation."
OTHER PLANE DRAMAS
1 A stand-off between a male passenger and the cabin crew of a SilkAir flight led to an aborted landing at Koh Samui airport in Thailand last June. The plane landed safely 30 minutes later after a second landing attempt by the pilot.
2 An Australian's rant on Facebook after his Scoot Airlines flight to Singapore had been delayed by five hours caused him to be blacklisted by the budget airline in 2012.
Described as a "private joke" with his son, the man had threatened to hijack and crash a Scoot flight on his return journey.
3 In 2010, a woman passenger had tried to open an airplane door mid-flight. It had apparently been a few weeks since she had last taken her medication for bipolar disorder when she took the Singapore Airlines flight from Munich to Singapore. She was arrested on arrival, but was later granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal after a psychiatric evaluation.
TOLD TO SCOOT
Budget airline Scoot confirmed the two incidents on the May 14 flight.
A spokesman told The New Paper yesterday that the flight had to be diverted to Bali as one couple who "allegedly fought with each other" required medical attention.
The spokesman said: "The third passenger (who was escorted off the aircraft) was intoxicated and abusive."
It was the captain's decision to have him escorted off the plane as he was seen as a "threat to the safety of the aircraft and passengers", said the spokesman.
Flight TZ001 arrived at Changi Airport at about 10pm, three hours behind schedule.
TNP understands that, similar to other airlines, Scoot has the right to remove passengers on a flight as stipulated in Scoot's condition of carriage.
Passengers can be restrained or removed from any flight if they endanger the safety of the aircraft, person or property on board, behave in a manner which other passengers may reasonably object to, or tamper with aircraft equipment.
Passengers who breach the rules on board the aircraft may be prosecuted.