• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 11:29pm
NewsHong Kong

Passenger 'tried to pull open cabin door' of Virgin jet sent back to Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 10:36am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 2:42pm

A Virgin Atlantic flight from Hong Kong to London was forced to turn back after a passenger attempted to yank open the aircraft’s door mid-flight, a source at the airline has revealed.

The plane had travelled about 1,000km on Monday morning when a 26-year old British man began shouting and attempted to pull open the cabin door, forcing staff to restrain him in his seat.

When he refused to calm down the crew took the decision to return to Hong Kong so as not to subject other passengers to hours of disruption, the source said.

Flight VS201, which was carrying 240 passengers and 16 crew members, was forced to dump fuel on the way back in order to make a safe landing.

A Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman declined to comment on the details of the incident, saying it was a matter of aviation safety.

Chris Beebe, general secretary of the Hong Kong Airline Pilots Association, said that the chances of a disruptive passenger being able to open the cabin door were very unlikely, due to the air pressure inside the plane.

The former US Airways pilot, with 33 years of experience, said the force needed to pull open the door in mid-air would be similar to that needed to push a double-decker bus on the ground.

Cabin doors are designed to open in and then out and “not like your standard entry door,” he said.

“These doors are even safer because they are slightly larger than the frame, and that’s how it forms a very good seal in the cabin.”

The disruptive passenger, who was detained by police upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport, was sent to Princess Margaret Hospital for a medical check, where he remained on Tuesday. 

A police source earlier said: "He was accused of singing, shouting and waving his hands in his seat. He allegedly pushed away a flight attendant while being asked to calm down."

A police spokeswoman said the case was still being investigated and a decision on whether he will face charges of violating the Aviation Security Ordinance had not yet been made yet.

The incident is likely to cost Virgin hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong dollars in wasted fuel, salaries, airport costs, passenger accommodation and a rescheduled flight.

The remaining passengers left Hong Kong for London last night.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Lay down the law on him. Fine him heavily. Ban him from flights. And make sure the case is highly publicized. There’s enough anxiety about flying on planes these days. We don’t need people like these to make things worse.
Dai Muff
Sure. Zero tolerance for these idiots.
Criminal Charge with heavy penalty is imperative otherwise others will think they can get away with this kind of inconsiderate behaviour
Hate to say it, but they should stop serving alcohol on flights, on all classes.
We don't know what went on in this man's mind, but it doesn't sound like a drunken hooligan, more likely some mental illness or psychosis.
I would guess that this guy got progressively worse after boarding, as alcohol and what ever else began to take affect, plus what he may have been served prior to mealtime.
UK's drunk and violently disorderly "soccer hooligans" are well known both in UK and many European cities. Its not surprising that one occasionally travels further afield.
A few years in Stanley would be appropriate, plus as much financial restitution as possible.
Ban this guy from flying for a couple of years and that should shut him up.
Either he's mentally ill, drug induced or drunk whilst boarding. Shouldn't the ground staff check before allowing this maniac onboard?
I agree, sounds like some type of psychosis probably triggered by a fear of flying. Now he's going to have to go back with the surface mail.
The pressure inside the aircraft above 10,000 feet is much higher than the pressure outside, so the plug type door cannot be pulled in with human strength. He would probably have collapsed after about an hour after all the nervous energy was gone. Captain's call though.
Actually, I doubt that anybody would check how harsh the penalty is before behaving like that.



SCMP.com Account