A Man Tried to Open an Emergency Exit on an American Airlines Flight. Other Passengers Subdued Him

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
February 21, 2024US News
A Man Tried to Open an Emergency Exit on an American Airlines Flight. Other Passengers Subdued Him
American Airlines planes sit at the gate at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles on July 26, 2023. (Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing in New Mexico after a disruptive passenger allegedly tried to open an emergency exit door, authorities said.

Albuquerque International Sunport officials said Flight 1219 to Chicago returned to the airport shortly after takeoff Tuesday afternoon “due to a disturbance in the cabin involving a disruptive customer.”

Albuquerque TV station KOAT interviewed several passengers including Emma Ritz, who said the man tried to open an emergency door while the jetliner was airborne.

“He was sitting at the emergency exit and he cracked open the window that was protecting the handle,” Ritz said. “He ripped down the handle where it exposed some of the emergency exit and all the wind came rushing down.”

KOAT reported that six other passengers on the plane wrestled the man down and restrained him in the aisle until the flight ended by duct-taping his feet and putting on flex cuffs.

“The guy was screaming ‘I want to get out’ when he was restrained,” Ritz told KOAT.

The plane landed safely at Sunport, where passengers said local law enforcement took the man away.

Neither the FBI nor Albuquerque police have released any information yet about the man who caused the disturbance. A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that the agency is investigating.

“I’m just curious what was going on with him, why he needed to get out of the plane,” Ritz said.

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