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12 Sent to Hospital After Man Opens Aircraft’s Emergency Door While in Flight

Published: May 26, 2023
An Asiana Airlines plane is viewed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Feb. 12, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Image: DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

Twelve passengers are in hospital and one man has been arrested after the man opened an aircraft’s emergency exit door while in flight.

An Asiana Airlines Airbus A321 was en route to the Daegu Airport on the southeastern region of the Korean peninsula when the man allegedly pulled open the emergency door while the plane was descending. The plane was at around 700-feet in altitude when the incident occurred. 

“Other passengers attempted to stop the suspect but failed to prevent him from partially opening the emergency exit door,” Fox News reported. 

Once the plane landed, the man was charged with violating aviation security laws.

Twelve passengers were sent to hospital complaining of breathing issues and ear pain due to the rapid decompression of the cabin.

The identity of the man arrested is unknown.

Unruly plane behavior

In 2021, at the height of the pandemic, incidents including assaults on crew members, public intoxication and verbal abuse reached new heights in the United States.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in 2021 there were 5,981 reports of unruly passengers and 72 percent of the incidents involved disputes over mask wearing.

The surge in incidents prompted the FAA to announce a “zero tolerance” policy for unruly passenger behavior which allowed aircraft staff to skip warnings and counseling and go directly to penalties, including hefty fines and even incarceration.

Since then, incidents have dropped by approximately 50 percent, but the FAA says “there remains more work to be done.”

In addition to outrageous and egregious behavior, aggression was common on flights during the pandemic.

Sara Nelson, a flight attendant and union leader told CNN, “We also have a lot of incidents that are happening more regularly that are violent, maybe not directly toward someone, but in actions and words: punching backs of seats, spitting, throwing trash at people, yelling obscenities, using racial, gender and homophobic slurs.”

“Today when flight attendants put on their uniforms, they don’t know if it’s going to be a signal of leadership and authority for safety in the cabin or a target for a violent attack,” she added.


Possible scientific explanations

According to an investigation, conducted by The Boston Globe, they found that strange behavior on flights may have a scientific explanation.

Low air pressure reduces the oxygen in someone’s blood and can impact their emotions and decision-making processes. 

Another reason identified is that flying takes away one’s sense of control, potentially leading to outbursts over the most mundane things.

Kat Anderson, a flight attendant of three years told NPR’s Weekend Edition, “When people get on a plane, they revert to a lizard brain where they forget all social decencies and common sense. Flying takes away everybody’s sense of control. So people tend to grasp at whatever kind of control they can have, whether that be yelling about overhead bin space above their seat, or yelling about having to check their bag or whatever.”