A passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight was detained after allegedly opening the emergency exit door, prompting the emergency slide to deploy, and sliding down it while the plane was preparing to taxi for takeoff on Saturday morning.
The flight from Los Angeles to Seattle was supposed to take off at 10 a.m. EST but was reportedly delayed over three hours because of the incident. While the plane was pushing off from the gate, a man allegedly hurried to the front of the aircraft and asked a flight attendant, “what do I do now?” Fox News reported.
“Delta flight 1714 operating from Los Angeles to Seattle returned to the gate due to an unruly passenger,” the airline said in a statement to the outlet. “The aircraft was holding to taxi for takeoff when the passenger exited the aircraft and was initially detained by Delta staff ahead of being arrested by local law enforcement.”
After rushing to the front of the plane, the man was told by the flight attendant to sit down, but instead opened the emergency exit door, triggering the emergency exit slide to deploy. The plane stopped and the man slid down the slide. According to passengers, he then hopped onto a baggage cart, Fox News reports.
Hello former colleagues! I was on this plane! https://t.co/4JlkVTQTxC pic.twitter.com/7f5ZWixNnH
— Gillian Sheldon (@gilliansheldon) March 25, 2023
Baggage workers reportedly held the man down until authorities could take over.
According to CBS News, the suspect was “transported to a local hospital for mental evaluation.” Los Angeles Airport Police Captain Karla Rodriguez said they contacted the FBI “due to the circumstances,” and that the other passengers were taken off the plane to be put on a separate aircraft. There were no injuries.
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“You always tell yourself, when you see these things on TV, that I would have done this or that, but honestly, it was so quick, there was no way to react,” a passenger on the plane told Fox 11. “Just glad it didn’t happen when we were midair, or it would have been a whole different outcome.”
Opening an emergency exit door on an airplane during flight is impossible, according to WBZ-TV, which notes that a typical emergency exit door is six feet tall and three and a half feet wide. At 36,000 feet, a person trying to open the exit door would have to overcome 24,000 pounds of pressure or the weight of 20 polar bears, the outlet says.