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Video shows man tackled, duct-taped after trying to open plane door

A group of travelers had to restrain a fellow plane passenger as he tried to open the emergency exit door about 30 minutes into the flight.
Posted at 6:52 PM, Feb 21, 2024

In a story becoming all too familiar, another plane passenger attempted to open a door midflight, and other travelers had to act quickly to ensure their safety lasted until landing.

Multiple passengers on the American Airlines flight witnessed the dramatic moment as the man tried to pull on the emergency exit door about 30 minutes into the almost three-hour flight Tuesday.

One passenger, who called it "one of the scariest days of my life," said she felt "a huge gush of wind" out of nowhere. Another told KOAT in Albuquerque that the man managed to pull the safety mechanism lever down, causing passengers to hear an "actual difference in pressure."

Video from Emma Ritz, another passenger, showed a group of men trying to get the unruly passenger away from the door while someone could be heard yelling for more assistance.

The travelers then eventually restrained the man, with one of them saying they had to "wrestle him into the aisle, duct tape his legs and throw flexi-cuffs on him."

Though the flight was heading from Albuquerque to Chicago, it returned to its takeoff location shortly after the incident. American Airlines confirmed the change in course was "due to a disturbance in the cabin involving a disruptive customer" and that the aircraft was met by local law enforcement upon its safe arrival.

Ritz's footage also captured that moment when four law enforcement officers escorted the man out of the plane in handcuffs.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI are investigating the incident, which is now one of a series of recent passenger disturbances that have happened midflight.

So far this year, airline crews have reported 254 unruly passengers to the FAA. The first two months of last year saw 278 unruly passenger reports as part of the year's total of 2,075 reports. However, that number has been decreasing since a 2021 spike of 5,793 incidents. 

Federal Aviation Administration

But it's not just happening here.

A Canadian man was arrested in Thailand earlier this month after allegedly opening a plane's door on the runway, causing an evacuation slide to deploy. And In September, a passenger was arrested at an Indian airport after allegedly trying to open a plane's door. The same thing happened in July, when passengers on a Ryanair flight to London tackled and restrained a man who tried to open the door right before takeoff.