Four terrorists of different ethnicities and without an obvious common link take hold of an American jetliner and demand release of their leader from a British prison. They murder a stewardess to prove they mean business and threaten to pick off more if their demands are not met. But surprises await the hijackers: an armed policeman is aboard, and the passengers manage to begin a whispered plot to fight back. After a bloody shootout with further casualties on both sides, the mood of the film shifts sharply as the plot devolves to a single question: do the passengers wait till the plane lanes and turn the surviving terrorists over to the authorities, or do they "try" them themselves aboard the plane?
Did You Know?
The original ending had the terrorists hanged. But an ending that had them shot when they broke free aired in the US. The other ending was shown internationally. See more
When the hijackers take over we see three flight attendants brought to the coach section, along with the two attendants already stationed in there that makes five. There would be upwards of 10 on a DC10 passenger flight. See more
[to a hostage
You, hands on your seat!
[the hostage does not react and Bradigan hits him
You don't have to hit him.
[Bradigan hits the hostage even harder
*You* did that to him.
Reportedly, there are two versions: in the first, the passengers capture and hang the terrorists. The scene showing the feet of the terrorists dangling in the aisles is very chilling. In an alternate version, the passengers simply capture the terrorists and keep them tied up until the terrorists can be bound over to authorities. This was the version that aired on NBC after the former ending was rejected by the network; the version later seen in syndication restored the original ending. See more
Edited from Airplane!