The Lesson: Passengers Are Not Helpless

Alert passengers averted disaster on Flight 253. So let's stop acting like helpless victims

CNN / SIPA

Dutch filmmaker Jasper Schuringa led the effort to subdue the would-be bomber.

Since 2001, airline passengers — regular people without weapons or training — have helped thwart terrorist attacks aboard at least five different commercial airplanes. It happened again on Christmas Day. And as we do each and every time, we miss the point.

Consider the record: First, passengers on United Flight 93 prevented a further attack on Washington on 9/11. Then, three months later, American Airlines passengers wrestled a belligerent, biting Richard Reid to the ground, using their headset cords to restrain him. In 2007, almost a dozen passengers jumped on a gun-wielding...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!