A woman who was ‘high on meth’ on a flight between New York JFK and the South Korean capital Seoul allegedly attempted to open an emergency exit several times before flight attendants managed to subdue the passenger, local media have reported.
According to the Yonhap news agency, the 26-year-old suspect was taken into custody after the flight landed at Incheon International Airport without incident. A preliminary drug test came back with a positive result.
The female passenger apparently became anxious around 10 hours into the 15-hour flight high above the Pacific Ocean. She was forcibly restrained by flight attendants after she tried to open one of the emergency exits on several occasions.
Local police have not confirmed what type of drugs the suspect tested positive for, although initial reports suggest the woman had been high on meth at the time of the alarming incident.
It’s technically impossible to open an airplane door at high altitudes due to the difference in pressure between the artificially pressurised cabin and the outside. Pulling on the control handle can, however, cause damage to the door and emergency slide.
At lower altitudes, it is sometimes possible to open an emergency exit inflight, as was demonstrated in May when a man managed to open the emergency exit of an Airbus A321 aircraft operated by South Korean airline Asiana as the plane was on final approach to Daegu.
The incident injured at least six passengers and prompted a major review of emergency exit protocols at South Korean airlines.
Asiana was fined by the local authorities for failing to immediately report that someone had tampered with the plane, although the lack of report was down to the fact that the airline didn’t immediately realise that the door had been deliberately opened and initially believed that a technical issue was to blame.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.