When terrorists try to seize control of a Berlin-Paris flight, a soft-spoken young American co-pilot struggles to save the lives of the passengers and crew while forging a surprising connection with one of the hijackers.
The entire film takes place in the cockpit of a plane. Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a co-pilot on a plane that undergoes a hijacking. Two hijackers break into the cabin, where Tobias is able to get one out of the cockpit while the other mortally wounds the captain.
The hijackers begin killing hostages, including a flight attendant that is Tobias’s girlfriend. A young hijacker, Vedat, manages to get back into the cockpit with the help of his superior, and they subdue Tobias. The elder hijacker intends to crash the plane in an act of terrorism, but Vedat doesn’t want to die and kills him.
Tobias lands the plane, where Vedat keeps him hostage and attempts to negotiate his way out. When he holds a glass shard to Tobias’s throat, a sniper shoots him, and the police enter and rescue Tobias.
Captain Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) and First Officer Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are preparing for a flight from Berlin to Paris. Tobias talks to one of the flight attendants, who happens to be his girlfriend, Gökce. Lutzmann re-enters the cockpit and they begin their pre-flight checks.
Once airborne, one of the flight attendants begins bringing the pilots their in-flight meals. Terrorists use this opportunity to attempt a hijack by forcing their way into the cockpit, killing the flight attendant in the process. One terrorist successfully enters and attacks Lutzmann, while Tobias fights off another and seals the cockpit door. Tobias is badly wounded in the process. Lutzmann is stabbed by the remaining terrorist as he radios “mayday”, while Tobias manages to subdue the remaining terrorist in the cockpit. Tobias signals Air Traffic Control and is ordered to divert the flight to Hannover, then restrains the terrorist and straps him in the jump seat. Lutzmann becomes unconscious, and Tobias unsuccessfully attempts CPR.
The remaining terrorists continuously attempt to break into the cockpit. Tobias informs ground control of the events that have transpired. Tobias is reminded by control that he is not permitted to open the cockpit door. Inside the cockpit, Tobias watches a camera feed of the entrance to the cockpit, which reveals that a passenger has been taken hostage by the terrorists. The terrorists begin threatening to kill the hostage unless Tobias opens the door. Tobias pleads with one of the terrorists on the intercom, Vedat (Omid Memar), telling Vedat that the cockpit door cannot be opened, but one of the terrorists executes the passenger anyway.
Tobias attempts to render first aid to himself. The terrorists return with another hostage. It is revealed to be one of the flight attendants, Gökce. Tobias pleads with them to spare her life, and then attempts to summon the passengers to her rescue by informing them that the terrorists are poorly armed. He pleads with Vedat to intervene but to no avail. Gökce is killed as he watches.
Tobias resumes piloting the plane. Unbeknownst to him, the terrorist he subdued earlier manages to sneak out of his restraints and knocks Tobias unconscious. The terrorist opens the door to allow Vedat inside the cockpit, who has escaped the passengers attacking the remaining terrorists in the cabin. Vedat manages to close the door and he ties up Tobias as the terrorist takes control of the plane. It becomes clear that he intends to crash the plane, but Vedat suffers a crisis of conscience. Fearing death, he kills his co-hijacker. He frees Tobias, who goes on to explain that the plane is low on fuel and needs to land.
Vedat demands they fly somewhere else, but eventually relents and helps the injured Tobias to land the plane in Hannover. After they land, the passengers escape while a police negotiator begins communicating to the cockpit via radio. Vedat demands fuel during negotiations, becoming emotionally unstable as he is faced with the outcome of his actions. Tobias pleads with the young man to surrender. Eventually, Vedat grows more aggressive and threatens to kill Tobias, but is shot by a German police sniper and incapacitated.
The police enter the cockpit as Tobias tries to save Vedat. As Tobias is escorted off the plane, he pleads for the police to summon a doctor for Vedat. The film ends as Tobias sees Gökce’s body outside the cockpit as he and Vedat are escorted off the plane by the police.
In the Berlin airport, security footage shows men making their way through security, making purchases, and seemingly switching a bag. The rest of the film takes place only in the cockpit on an aircraft, A German flight prepares to leave the airport, led by Captain Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) and American co-pilot, the soft-spoken Tobias Ellis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Tobias is in a relationship with one of the flight attendants, Gokce (Aylin Tezel), and the two have a two-year-old son, though at work they try to not bring their relationship up to be professional.
The plane takes off. The pilots are able to watch inside the cabin (but not hear anything) via a camera outside the cockpit door. When a flight attendant brings them their meals, they buzz her into the cockpit. As she enters, two men – Vedat (Omid Memar) and Kinan (Murathan Muslu) -attack her and rush their way into the cockpit. Using glass they stab both Lutzmann and Tobias. Tobias is able to shove Vedat back out of the cockpit and shut the door. Lutzmann fights off Kenan but is stabbed brutally, and Tobias is able to knock him out with a fire extinguisher. Lutzmann then urges him to right the plane’s nose, which he does as he cradles his bloody arm.
Lutzmann is gravely injured and urges Tobias to focus on bringing down the plane. Meanwhile, Vedat and two other men continue to try to break down the door to the cockpit. When Kinan begins stirring, Tobias kicks him unconscious, ties him up with duct tape, and radios down and makes plans to land at Hannover. Lutzmann becomes unresponsive, and Tobias attempts to do CPR to revive him. To his devastation, he is unable to resuscitate him – Lutzmann is dead. He radios ground and informs them, and they tell him Hannover is ready for them with a crash crew and also fighter jets are on the way. Tobias makes an announcement to the cabin that the plane with be landing at Hannover in twenty minutes.
The men in the cabin continue to bash the door in an attempt to break into the cockpit. With no luck, one of them, Daniel (Paul Wollin) takes a passenger and brings him up the camera, threatening to kill him if Tobias doesn’t open the door. Tobias is horrified, and radios ground, who reminds him that under no circumstances can he open the door. Tobias calls the phone that is meant for the flight attendants and Vedat answers, demanding to know where Kinan is and ordering Tobias not to land. Tobias pleads with them not to kill the hostage as Vedat counts down from ten. They refuse to back down, and before they kill the hostage, Tobias turns the screen off, devastated.
He turns the screen back on to see the hostage dead. He radios in and in tears tells them the hostage is dead. They confirm the jets will be joining him. Tobias calls and speaks to Vedat and tells him that when they land they can negotiate with authorities. Vedat relays the message to Daniel, who is enraged and returns with another hostage – Gokce, who pleads with them that she has a child.
Tobias calls and tells Vedat that if they do not let Gokce go, he will kill Kinan. Daniel says he doesn’t care, and Tobias announces to the entire plane that the hijackers only weapons are glass and that together they can stop them and pleads with them to fight back and save her life. Daniel retreats to fight off the passengers. While he does that, Tobias speaks to Vedat, who he has recognized does not want to kill anyone. Vedat insists Daniel will kill everyone, but Tobias tells him he can see that he is better than him and can stop him.
Daniel returns with Gokce ready to kill her. Tobias tells the passengers to fasten their seatbelts and moves the plane enough to throw Daniel to the ground. Vedat fights him off but Daniel defeats him. Tobias agrees to open the door, but Gokce tells Tobias to take care of their child and begs him not to open the door, and Daniel slits Gokce’s throat. Tobias sobs in the cockpit.
The air jets fly up alongside the plane to escort it to Hannover airport. The passengers begin fighting back against the hijackers, taking control of the plane again. Kinan wakes up and gets the jump on Tobias, knocking him out. He lets Vedat into the cockpit, where he hugs Kinan and sobs about all the blood and death. Kinan orders Vedat to kill Tobias, but instead, Vedat begins tying him up, angering Kinan.
Kinan radios ground and tell them he’s taking revenge for Muslims against westerners and is going to show them what it is like to lose lives. The ground wants to know his demands, but Kinan has none. As they approach the city, Vedat asks Kinan if this is right, clearly upset. Kinan insists it’s right and tells him not to be afraid. Vedat begins hyperventilating and says he doesn’t want to die. Vedat takes the glass shard and stabs Kinan in the neck and unties Tobias, who is able stop the plane from crashing.
Tobias radios in confirming the landing at Hannover, and Vedat demands to be taken somewhere else, but Tobias tells him they need fuel and after they land and refuel he can fly elsewhere. Vedat has a glass shard and has command of Tobias, but Tobias convinces him the landing is necessary. Since Tobias’s left arm is badly injured, he asks Vedat to help him land the plane, which they finally manage to do.
From the plane, Tobias and Vedat see the passengers being evacuated. Vedat keeps Tobias, more wounded than ever, at glasspoint, as the police call Vedat to ask for his demands. Vedat demands the plane be refueled in twenty minutes, which the negotiator tells him it can’t be done that fast. He threatens to kill Tobias, but the negotiator says his demands will only be met if the pilot is unharmed. Vedat turns off the call.
When Vedat goes to the bathroom, Tobias gets the glass shard from Kinan’s body. As they sit in the cockpit, they ask each other questions about where they are from and their lives. Vedat reveals he is only eighteen years old. When he notices the glass, Vedat becomes paranoid and suspicious, but then the police ask him to open a window. They tell him the plane is refueled and demand to see that Tobias is okay.
Vedat’s mother calls him. He cries and tells her he trusted the others and that he wants to go home. He continues spiraling and holds the glass to Tobias, who urges him to put it down and surrender. Vedat begins screaming and says if he doesn’t fly out in minutes he will kill Tobias and holds the glass right to his throat. A sniper shoots Vedat, and Tobias calls for a doctor as Vedat lays bleeding on the floor. Tobias lets the police into the plane and has to walk by Gokce’s body as he leaves. The police then remove Vedat, then enter the cockpit to survey the scene.