Denzel Washington is William “Whip” Whitaker, a pilot / captain for a domestic airline. At the start of the movie, he and a girl, Trina, a flight attendant he has been having an intimate relationship with for quite some time, wakes up to the sound of the alarm clock; both of them are unclothed.
By the looks of the morning after, both of them has had one hell of a night: sex, alcohol, drugs. Whip obviously hasn’t gotten enough sleep, so to wake up, he snorts cocaine, then gets ready for work. On the plane, he is greeted by the same flight attendant, and you can tell that both of them remain professional at work.
Even before Whip’s plane takes off, the place is already soaked. But the condition worsens as the plane goes higher above ground. Turbulence is experienced, but the plane makes it through thanks to Whip. As the auto-pilot is on, Whip takes a moment to chat with the passengers. But while doing that, he secretly opens three mini bottles of vodka and steals a nap on his seat.
Then, the plane starts to go on a steep dive...low, low, and lower it goes.
But Captain Whip stays calm, in control, and determined to land the plane on safer grounds. Through the help of his co-pilot and a flight attendant, Margaret, he manages to land his passengers to safety. But not all of them survive the crash. Out of 102 passengers, 6 of them are killed -- 4 passengers, and 2 crew; one of them is Trina.
Whip opens his eyes and realizes he’s in a hospital in Atlanta. And the story of his struggles begins.