After a passenger managed to open the emergency exit on an Asiana Airlines flight on Friday, 26 May, the airline has announced it will no longer sell seats next to the doors on emergency rows.
“As a safety precaution, this measure will apply even if the flights are full”, the South Korean carrier told AFP news on Sunday, 28 May, explaining that seats 31A and 26A will no longer be available for sale on its 14 A321-200.
While this will stop people from purchasing the respective seats, the airline has not indicated any measures it would take to prevent people seated elsewhere on the plane from eventually opening the doors.
On Friday, passengers on an Asiana Airlines flight experienced minutes of panic after a man who was sitting in an emergency row opened the aircraft door when the plane was 213 meters above the ground. According to CNN, the hatch opened as the aircraft was preparing to land in Daegu, South Korea.
During police questioning, the man said he was stressed after losing his job, according to a report from Yonhap news agency. “He is mentally struggling right now and losing his footing. We could not investigate him properly due to his state”, a local police officer told reporters.
In a video that went viral on social media, it was possible to see as the wind whipped through the cabin, passengers holding on to their armrests. An airline official said that the aircraft was about two or three minutes away from landing in the city located 240 kilometres south of Seoul.
According to local police, the man in his 30s was arrested at Daegu airport in connection with the incident. A total of 200 people were on board the flight, including 194 passengers, as reported by Asiana Airlines. The Daegu Fire Department said that 12 people suffered minor injuries due to hyperventilation and 9 of them were sent to Daegu hospitals.
Normally, the pressure difference between inside and outside the plane makes it impossible for the doors to open, however, since the flight was so close to landing, the pressure had already started equalizing. “The airplane is automatically set to adjust the pressure of the cabin according to the altitude of the aircraft. When the aircraft is high up in the air, it is impossible to open the door, but when the altitude is low and close to landing, the door can be opened”, an airline spokesperson explained, according to Simple Flying.