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AA passenger tries opening plane door mid-flight, others tackle him

An American Airlines plane. (Dreamstime/TNS)
March 04, 2020

An American Airlines flight from between Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was forced to make an emergency landing in St. Louis, Missouri after a passenger attempted to open the emergency exit in midair Tuesday night.

Multiple passengers aboard AA Flight 2300 took action to subdue the passenger who tried to open the emergency exit, NBC DFW News reported. The passenger in question, who was not identified, was removed from the plane by police after it landed in St. Louis.

“Everyone who could get to the guy got to the guy to subdue him,” said DJ Mitchell, a railway employee from the Dallas area, who was among those who helped stop the passenger while the flight crew diverted to St. Louis. “There was no screaming, no excitement. [It was] a little nerve-wracking, but that’s about it.”

Mitchell said the passenger was wearing what he believed to be a hospital bracelet but that he did not appear to be under the influence of any substances.

Another person who witnesses the incident told reporters the passenger had been pacing in the aisle before he eventually lunged for the emergency door.

“Have you ever seen a mouse go through a cardboard box that it cannot get out of, trying to get its way out?” another passenger, Jonathan Cowan, told NBC DFW. “He reminded me of a mouse trying to get out of a cardboard box, and he was just going at every single lever right in front of me, on the door.”

American Airlines told NBC DFW that flight crews have restraint tape and flex cuffs in the event that a passenger needs to be subdued as was the case for AA Flight 2300.

It remains unclear what charges, if any, the passenger may face since being taken into police custody after landing in St. Louis.

AA Flight 2300 arrived DFW at about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, about 3 1/2 hours later than originally anticipated.

According to Business Insider it is impossible for a human to open an airplane door midflight due to the difference in pressure on the outside of an airplane’s door as it cruises at an average height of 36,000 feet above sea level. Doors are already locked in flight but the pressure on the inside of the door would equal around 1,100 pounds per square foot.