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  4. US: Passengers restrain man with duct tape after he tries to open plane door mid-air | WATCH

US: Passengers restrain man with duct tape after he tries to open plane door mid-air | WATCH

The AA Flight 1219 was forced to make an emergency landing back to Albuquerque after the unruly passengers tried to open an emergency exit door mid-air. The case is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Albuquerque Updated on: February 22, 2024 12:23 IST
US, man tries to open door, plane, American Airlines
Image Source : AP (FILE) American Airlines (Representational)

Albuquerque: Passengers aboard a Chicago-bound American Airlines flight had to restrain a man with duct tape after he reportedly tried to open a plane door mid-air. The incident happened on Tuesday on AA Flight 1219 after the plane departed from Albuquerque, New Mexico for O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, an American Airlines spokesperson told USA Today.

Viral videos on social media showed a man in a red shirt and black hoodie being restrained by passengers near an exit door and being held down by what appears to be a group of men and tied up. The man was later apprehended by law enforcement officers and escorted from the airplane in handcuffs.

Albuquerque TV station KOAT interviewed several passengers including Emma Ritz, who said the man tried to open an emergency door while the jetliner was airborne. "He was sitting at the emergency exit and he cracked open the window that was protecting the handle," Ritz said.

Plane forced to make emergency landing

Chaos erupted within the plane as the unruly passenger tried to open an emergency exit door mid-air, forcing other passengers to tackle him, after which he was duct-taped and zip-tied before being handed to authorities, according to eyewitness reports.

KOAT reported that six other passengers on the plane wrestled the man down and restrained him in the aisle until the flight ended by duct-taping his feet and putting on flex cuffs. “The guy was screaming ‘I want to get out’ when he was restrained,” Ritz told KOAT.

The airline's spokesperson said the flight returned to the Albuquerque International Airport shortly after takeoff "due to a disturbance in the cabin involving a disruptive customer". The flight managed to safely make an emergency landing and law enforcement boarded the plane upon arrival. 

The Federal Aviation Administration said the flight returned safely to New Mexico at 2:40 p.m. and agents are investigating the incident. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also investigating the case, officials said.

Unruly passengers disrupting international travel

There have been several reports of unruly passengers disrupting international travel. Earlier this month, a Canadian national was arrested in Thailand after opening a plane's door on a flight before take-off, causing the evacuation slide to deploy, CNN reported. Prior to that, a man opened the door of a plane in South Korea after he felt suffocated and wanted to get off the plane quickly.

As of Sunday, there have been more than 250 unruly passenger incidents reported to the FAA by flight crews this year. These reports spiked to almost 6,000 in 2021, as more passengers returned to air travel following a decline during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 2,000 unruly passenger reports were made in both 2022 and 2023, the FAA data shows.

(with inputs from AP)

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