Chinese passenger pulls open escape hatch to get some fresh air while waiting on ‘stuffy’ plane

Passenger locked up and fined over US$10,000 after tearing open escape hatch and triggering inflatable slide

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 6:54pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 10:10pm

A Chinese man has been detained after he opened the emergency exit on a plane while he was waiting to disembark because he felt stuffy, according to a news portal

The man, identified only by his surname Chen, was waiting to leave the flight at Mianyang airport in the southwestern province of Sichuan when he decided he could do with some fresh air, Thepaper.cn reported on Monday. 

Unfortunately for him, the handle he pulled was attached to the emergency exit and not only did the hatch come free from the plane, but it also activated the escape slide. 

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Chen, 25, who was returning from the island of Hainan, insisted he did not know that it was an escape route, adding: “Because it was so stuffy, so hot on the plane, I just pushed down on the window handle beside me. When the door fell out, I panicked.”

The crew alerted police and he was detained for 15 days for the unauthorised removal of aviation facilities. He will also be fined 70,000 yuan (US$11,000) to cover the airline’s costs.

The airline, which was not named in the report, said it would cooperate with public security agencies in their investigation.  

“Before each take off, flight attendants inform passengers about safety precautions, “ the airline stated. 

It added that, in particular, passengers were made aware of the emergency exits and said it needed considerable force to open them. 

This is the latest in a string of safety incidents in recent years involving mainland Chinese travellers opening emergency exits. 

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In April 2016 a 30-year-old bulldozer driver, who had never travelled by air before, ignored warnings by cabin crew and opened the emergency exit door to get some fresh air just before his flight took off from Shenzhen airport in the south of the country.

The man, who said he was worried about getting air sick, was detained for a week and fined 500 yuan after the flight was delayed for an hour. 

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The previous year a man who claimed he thought the emergency escape handle was a handrail was given 10 days’ detention and a second passenger was given a similar sentence for opening an escape hatch while waiting to board a flight at Nanjing airport.

China’s civil aviation industry has responded by imposing a slew of penalties, including flying bans in addition to existing fines, on blacklisted travellers.