'Incoherent' passenger opens emergency exit of plane, climbs onto wing

Authorities say that the flight was stationary at the time of the incident

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Published: Tue 28 Nov 2023, 12:58 PM

A man was hospitalised after he opened the emergency exit of a Southwest Airlines flight and climbed onto the plane’s wing on Sunday, officials said. The incident occurred when the aircraft was at its designated gate at the New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport, as per media reports.

Authorities said that the plane was stationary at the time of the incident, reported CNN. Airport personnel, on the ground, caught hold of the 38-year-old man, who caused the disturbance before handing him to the deputies.

Later, Zed Webster, a passenger who was also on board the same flight, told CNN that he was concerned that two of his fellow passengers across the aisle were in some sort of argument, adding he thought they might start a fight.

Webster said that he even took out his phone and recorded their argument. It was only a matter of moment when, Webster said, the passenger unlatched the emergency exit door and jumped out the window.

“I was terrified,” Webster added.

According to the sheriff's office, the man was transported to a local hospital. “He was caught on the tarmac, and transported to a local hospital for evaluation,” NBC quoted the sheriff's office as saying.

When caught, the man appeared “incoherent and not fully aware of his surroundings,” the office added.

There are no criminal charges against the man for his actions, and the matter has been referred to federal authorities for further investigation, the report said.

The sheriff's statement also added that the man didn't leave anything on the plane and wasn't found in possession of any weapon either. "No one was injured during the incident," the statement said.

According to CNN, Southwest Airlines spokesperson Chris Perry commended the flight and ground crews for their swift action and apologised to customers for the inconvenience.

Following a delay, the Southwest Airlines flight departed using a different aircraft.

Webster, meanwhile, said that the incident delayed the flight by about two hours and they touched down in Atlanta shortly before midnight.

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