Woman Arrested After Opening Plane Cabin Door, Inflating Slide Exit: NFTA

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
April 20, 2022New York
Woman Arrested After Opening Plane Cabin Door, Inflating Slide Exit: NFTA
An American Airlines plane on the tarmac in a file photo. (Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images)

A 24-year-old California woman was arrested at an international airport in New York after she exhibited “unruly behavior” on board a flight on Tuesday, authorities said.

Cynthia McKnight of Sacramento was arrested at Buffalo Niagara International Airport after allegedly opening the cabin door of a plane and then inflating the emergency exit slide.

McKnight is facing a number of charges that include disorderly conduct, harassment, trespass, and criminal mischief, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) said in a statement.

The incident happened on an American Airlines flight that was en route to Chicago, the public transportation agency added.

Spencer Brown, an offensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills, appeared to be on the same plane as McKnight. On social media, the NFL player shared a photo of the inflatable emergency slide coming out of the plane, adding a description of what he saw happening.

“Sitting on a plane. A lady is pissed. Lady pulls the emergency inflatable slide to escape the plane. Lady is running wild through the tarmac currently. Cops have arrived. Flight ruined. Memories made,” Brown wrote.

Disorderly behavior on airliners can result in civil penalties totaling thousands of dollars.

Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it had proposed its “largest-ever fines” against two passengers over alleged “unruly behavior” on board a flight.

The two cases involved female passengers who assaulted another passenger, or crew members, during a flight while also trying to open a cabin door. The two separate fines, of each $81,950 and $77,272 respectively, are part of the approximately $2 million fines the FAA has proposed since January.

Airlines have reported a high number of incidents since early 2021—more than 1,000 this year alone—with most of them involving passengers who refuse to wear masks.

In an April 19 statement, the NFTA said that all mask requirements at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Niagara Falls Airports, and on NFTA-Metro, Bus, and Rail will be lifted. The latest measure is in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) recent announcement to stop enforcing its directive that required masks at airports and on planes.

“The NFTA will continue to follow the CDC recommendation that encourages people to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time and that everyone should be respectful of those who choose to wear a face-covering for their personal safety,” per the statement.

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