Passenger opens plane door mid-air on flight in South Korea, 9 hospitalized
Incident occurs minutes before landing; passenger detained by police but motive for opening the door on the Asiana flight is not clear
SEOUL, South Korea — A passenger opened an emergency exit on an Asiana Airlines flight as it was preparing to land Friday, the carrier told AFP, adding that the plane landed safely but several people were hospitalized.
The Airbus A321-200 was carrying nearly 200 passengers as it approached the runway at Daegu International Airport, about 240 kilometers (149 miles) southeast of Seoul, on a domestic flight.
When the plane was still about 200 meters (650 feet) above the ground, a passenger sitting near the emergency exit “opened the door manually by touching the lever,” the South Korean carrier’s representative told AFP.
The unexpected opening of the door caused some passengers to have breathing difficulties, and some people were taken to a hospital after the landing, Asiana said, adding that there were no major injuries or damage.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that nine people were hospitalized.
“The passenger has been taken to the police and is under questioning” to find out why they opened the door, Asiana said.
Police detained a 33-year-old man on suspicions of pulling the door lever on a Asiana A-321 from Jeju – Daegu ????
— Thenewarea51 (@thenewarea51) May 26, 2023
A short video of the incident was shared by Yonhap.
The footage shows wind ripping through the open door in mid-air, with fabric seat-backs and passengers’ hair flapping wildly as some shout in surprise.
Another video shared on social media showed passengers sitting in the emergency exit row next to an open door being buffeted by strong winds.
Asiana Airlines A321 lands safely at Daegu Airport in South Korea after the emergency exit door was opened by a passenger on approach. 9 people taken to hospital with breathing difficulties. pic.twitter.com/Jzed4PMDvc
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) May 26, 2023
The two male passengers, who are wearing their seatbelts, can be seen wincing as the wind whips around them, while they clutch the armrests and try and turn away from the door.