A few days ago, the internets were ablaze with the story about the Asiana Airlines passenger who opened the door of their plane while it was mid-flight.
According to reports, the plane was traveling from the southern island of Jeju to the city of Daegu, about an hour away. There were 200 people on board the Airbus A321; 194 passengers and 6 flight crew. A 33-year-old man with the surname of Lee suddenly threw the door of the plane open. According to officials, the breach caused air to blast inside the cabin and slightly injure 12 people.
“I thought the plane was going to explode. … It looked like passengers next to the open door were fainting,” said one passenger. Other passengers complained of severe ear pain. 9 passengers were sent to the hospital due to their injuries, mostly hyperventilation.
The plane was able to safely land in Daegu and Lee, who confessed to his actions, was detained by airport police on suspicion of violating the aviation security law. He was formally arrested a few days after the event and currently faces up to ten years in prison. Aviation security law bars passengers from handling exit doors and other equipment on board.
“But Sharon,” you’re probably saying to yourself, “I thought mere mortals can’t open a plane door if it’s in the air. You said so in your (amazingly written and not even the least bit clickbaity) post called ‘What Happens If You Try to Open A Plane’s Door Mid-Flight?”
Welp, you’re right; for the most part, you can’t open a plane door mid-flight. That aforementioned article (which, you’re also right about, is amazingly written 😉) explains why.
HOWEVER (and this is a big “however; you can tell – I put it in all caps), when the guy opened the door on the Asiana flight, it was on descent (reportedly about 2 or 3 minutes from landing) and at an altitude of about 700 feet (213 meters). At that height, the cabin pressure that seals the door shut and makes it unopenable at higher altitudes would be much, much less. Small enough, apparently, so that a man could open the door.
And now you know.
Lee initially didn’t explain why he decided to open the plane door at that time. But according to CNN, he eventually told police that he had been under a lot of stress after losing his job recently, had felt suffocated and wanted to get off the plane quickly.
“I wanted to get off the plane soon,” the man said.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary