Man Opens Emergency Exit Door On Asiana Airlines Flight During Flight

Man Opens Emergency Exit Door On Asiana Airlines Flight During Flight

While I have seen stories where passengers try to open emergency exits on board while on the ground, I have never seen someone opening the door while on air. This is yet to be one of the most serious incidents I have seen when it comes to a passenger opening the emergency exit door.

Asiana Airlines Passenger Open Aircraft Door While In Air

The incident just occurred on May 26, 2023, on an Asiana Airlines flight OZ8124 flying from Jeju(CJU) to Daegu(TAE). The 40 minutes journey from Jeju island to the eastern Korean city was operated by an 11-year-old Airbus A321-231 with 194 passengers on crews on board.

However, just as the aircraft was 10 minutes to Daegu Airport, the L3 emergency exit door was opened. All 194 passengers survived the flight however, more than half a dozen of passengers experienced shortness of breath due to the strong air blowing inwards the cabin. The majority of passengers were elementary and middle school students who were on their way to a weekend sporting festival.

Based on multiple eyewitnesses on board, a 30-year-old man, who was seated by the aisle side of the emergency exit row, complained about why the aircraft was not arriving on time and he allegedly opened the emergency exit door handle just before the aircraft was landing.

Here is another view from the cabin.

The man is now arrested by Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency officials and is now under investigation. Under South Korean aviation law, the man will face up to 10 years in prison. However, some reports are reporting that this man is having some sort of mental disorder or claustrophobia.

It is inevitable that Asiana Airlines will be hard to avoid responsibility too whether they followed the safety procedures.

How Did The Man Open The Emergency Exit Door While In Air?

Generally, when the aircraft is in the air, there is a safety pin where the cabin crew will arm the door by moving the lever and it is impossible to open the door due to the pressure difference.

So how did this man manage to open the emergency exit? While is it a little hard to understand in common sense, emergency exits are usually designed to easily operate by passengers so they will be able to open during emergency situations.

It appears that the man was touching the lever throughout the flight and this caused the lever to maneuver as soon as the cabin and outside pressure were equal during landing when the aircraft was just around 700ft in the air.

When the outside and cabin pressure has little difference the Nitrogen (N2) bottle that is installed on the emergency door will blow open the door. Furthermore, unlike Boeing, the flight lock system is not present on some Airbus A321 doors so these doors are more vulnerable.

It is still under investigation how the man managed to lift the latch. You can have a look at how the emergency exit door operates in the video below.

Asiana Airlines Cabin Crews Were Not Able To Stop The Incident

There have been some questions about why the cabin crews did not manage to stop the man from opening the emergency exit. But here are the reasons why they couldn’t:

  • The aircraft was landing and all cabin crews were in their seats for landing
  • The emergency exit door was located at L3 where there were no jumpseats located (On Airbus A321, crew jumpseats are mostly located in the L2/R2 section of the cabin)
  • Based on Asiana Airlines’ cabin design, the lavatory is blocking the view, so cabin crews were not able to notice

Always Wear A Seatbelt During The Flight

Since there was nothing the crew can do in this kind of situation, I always urge them to use seatbelts during the flight whether there is turbulence or not. This is the best thing you can do as a last resort to prevent fatalities or injuries. It would be a horrifying ending if the passenger did not even use a seatbelt. You don’t want to get sucked out of the aircraft in this kind of situation.


This morning, on May 26, 2023, a passenger from an Asiana Airlines flight opened the emergency exit door in the air causing the door to burst open and causing strong winds as strong as 250km/h (155mph) to enter the cabin causing some passengers to experience shortness of breath.

The flight was carrying a total of 194 passengers and crew and no one was seriously injured.

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