Man who opens emergency exit on Asiana Airlines flight says he ‘feels suffocated’

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27th May 2023 – (Seoul) A man who opened the emergency exit on an Asiana Airlines flight in mid-air claimed he felt “suffocated” and wanted to get off quickly, according to South Korean police. The incident occurred on Friday when the plane was carrying nearly 200 passengers as it approached the runway at Daegu International Airport on a domestic flight.

The man, who police said was in his 30s without providing further details, opened the exit door when the plane was around 200m above ground. The passenger was taken in by Daegu police for questioning and told officers he had been “under stress after losing a job recently.”

“He felt the flight was taking longer than it should have been and felt suffocated inside the cabin,” a Daegu police detective told AFP. “He wanted out quickly.”

The passenger now faces up to 10 years in prison for violating aviation safety laws.

A video clip shot by a nearby passenger showed wind ripping through the open door, with fabric seat-backs and passengers’ hair flapping wildly as some people shouted 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.

A dozen passengers were taken to the hospital after experiencing breathing difficulties, but there were no major injuries or damage, according to the transport ministry. “It was chaos with people close to the door appearing to faint one by one and flight attendants calling out for doctors on board,” a 44-year-old passenger told Yonhap. “I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die like this.”