Woman Detained After Opening Plane's Emergency Exit Because She Needed a 'Breath of Fresh Air' Before Takeoff

A woman was detained by police in China this week after opening a plane's emergency exit door prior to takeoff, delaying the journey by about an hour.

The incident occurred Monday onboard a Xiamen Air flight traveling from Wuhan city to Lanzhou, scheduled to depart at 3:45 p.m., the South China Morning Post reported. It happened shortly after cabin crew briefed the plane's passengers about emergency exit procedures.

According to the English-language newspaper, the unidentified woman, who appeared to be in her 50s, told crew that she needed "a breath of fresh air."

Asia One, citing the media outlet China Press, reported the woman ignored airline staff, complaining that conditions on the plane had been "too stuffy."

The woman was swiftly removed from the flight for questioning by law enforcement, reports said.

Footage taken by a fellow passenger on the plane was later uploaded to YouTube, showing the missing emergency exit. It was not immediately clear if the evacuation slide had been deployed.

It is not the first time a passenger has sparked significant delays, and possible criminal penalties, by blasting open the doors of a plane while sitting on the tarmac.

In June, a man from China was detained after opening an emergency exit during a flight that was departing from Bangkok. A witness at the time said the man appeared to be frightened and told staff members that he was not aware of plane procedures, the SCMP reported.

In May last year, a flight from Chengdu to Ürümqi was delayed for approximately an hour after a man opened the emergency door, later telling staff that he believed the lever on the inside could be used to wind down a window, the Shanghaiist reported, publishing photos from the scene.

Numerous cases have been reported of the exit doors being thrust open by passengers looking for a toilet. One incident in March 2016 sparked a two-hour delay, while a similar case in May this year came to light after a female passenger delayed a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight for seven hours by mistakenly opening the exit door and deploying an evacuation slide.

On Twitter, a PIA spokesperson said at the time: "We strongly urge passengers to follow security instructions as such mishaps result in inconvenience of hundreds of other passengers."

This month, a woman in China, identified only as Wang, was fined by police for hurling coins to the ground from an airplane as she was disembarking. Chengdu Business News reported the woman, a medical student, believed that it could cure her cousin's baby's diarrhoea. "She said she didn't realise her action could have had a very serious outcome," a police officer stated.

Xiamen Air
Xiamen Air Dreamliner at Los Angeles International Airport on December 28, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. A woman was detained in China this week after opening a plane’s emergency exit. FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty