Asiana Airlines: man arrested for opening plane door during flight

Key points
  • An Asiana Airlines passenger opened an airplane door during a flight.
  • Nine people were taken to the hospital with breathing problems, but no one was hurt.
  • The airline said a man sitting in a row near the exit pulled a lever as the plane was about to land.
The man told police that he opened the door of an Asiana Airlines flight, to the horror of other passengers, because he was “uncomfortable”.
The 30-year-old man told police he opened the door before boarding in Daegu, South Korea, because he “wanted to get off the plane as soon as possible,” according to the Yonhap news agency.
He also told police he was stressed out after losing his job recently.
On Friday, the Airbus A321-200 was two to three minutes from landing when a male passenger sitting next to the emergency exit opened the lid and pulled a lever so that the door opened about 200 meters above the ground, an Asiana spokesman said.

Nine passengers were hospitalized with breathing problems. They were all released from the hospital after about two hours, according to a fire department spokesman.

“I thought the plane was about to explode… It looked like the passengers next to the open door were losing consciousness,” an unidentified 44-year-old passenger told the Yonhap news agency.
The passenger said the flight attendants made an in-flight announcement asking if there were doctors on board.
Video shown on television, reportedly filmed by a passenger, showed moments before landing with the door open and wind rushing in as the passengers were seated nearby.
A transport ministry spokesman told Reuters that authorities were looking into whether Asiana Airlines followed protocols for managing emergency exits.

The official said the emergency exit could have been rendered harmless near the ground when the pressure inside and outside the cabin was the same.

Medics carry a man on a stretcher.

Rescuers transport students on stretchers at Daegu International Airport. The students were among the 194 passengers on board the Asiana Airlines plane. Source: AARP / Yonhap

Jin Sung Hyun, a former Korean Air cabin security officer, said that to his knowledge the incident was unprecedented, but passengers opened emergency exits without permission while the plane was on the ground.

A spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of Transportation said on Friday that emergency exits could be opened at or near ground level because the pressure inside and outside the cab was the same.
Everyone on board was seated with their seat belts fastened because the plane was about to land, a spokesman said.

According to Yonhap, the police plan to arrest the detainee after the investigation is completed.