A Chinese national who has only been identified with the surname Chen now needs to pay thousands of dollars in fines for opening the emergency door of an airplane just to breathe in some fresh air.
When he opened the door, Mr. Chen ended up activating the plane’s evacuation slide. If the slide is found to have been damaged, the unfortunate passenger will be asked to pay even more.
Mr. Chen was flying from Sanya, Hainan Island, on Lucky Air, a budget airline. Fortunately the plane had already landed in Nanjiao Airport, in Mianyang City, southwest China, when Mr. Chen opened its exit door.
Mr. Chen, who was immediately arrested by the airport police and then questioned and detained by the Mianyang Public Security Bureau for fifteen days, said that he had waited in the aisle of the plane for ten minutes while other passengers exited, and since he felt “too stuffy and too hot,” he chose to open the emergency exit door to get some fresh air.
He told investigators, “I just pushed down on the window handle beside me. When the door fell out, I panicked.”
Authorities say that what Mr. Chen did caused significant delays to other flights, and fees for correcting his mistake could cost up to 100,000 Yuan (almost US $15,000). And if the evacuation slide is also damaged, these fees could even be significantly higher.
Mr. Chen has already been fined 70,000 Yuan (US $11,000) for costs to the airline. Luck Air has announced that it may charge the passenger for other fees.
In a statement, the company said that passengers had been warned against such actions, “Before each take off, flight attendants inform passengers about safety precautions.”
Four years ago, a similar incident occurred when another Chinese passenger opened an emergency door on a plane just before it was scheduled to take off. This man was flying for the first time and had concerns that he would feel nauseated on the plane. His actions caused the fight a delay of approximately an hour.