Passenger Opens Emergency Exit…Thought it was a Handrail!

How about this reason for a flight delay?

A passenger on Urumqi Air flight 2505 from Urumqi (URC) to Zhengzhou (CGO) caused a 30-minute delay when he accidentally opened the overwing emergency exit. Mr. Xiong, 42, was traveling with his wife, Ms. Li, in seats 15E and 15F. Before even sitting down, Mr. Xiong was grabbing the emergency exit handle in attempt “to stable himself.” However, the emergency exit propped open, and Mr. Xiong later said that he was just trying to hold onto the handle, thinking it was like a handrail one would find on a bus or a train.

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The passenger was held for questioning by authorities and was detained for 10 days in accordance with local laws. Mr. Xiang claimed that this was not the first time he has flown, but it was the first time he was seated in an emergency exit row. An airline representative said that all passengers seated in the emergency exit rows were “briefed” when their boarding passes were scanned, though it seems like “don’t open the door” may not have been part of the briefing.

The overwing exit of the 737-800 operating the flight was not equipped with an evacuation slide, so airline personnel were able to reset the exit and the flight reportedly took off 30 minutes late. There were no injuries from the incident which took place on March 16, 2015.

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I don’t see why the passenger would lie about “thinking it was a handrail,” but I have to wonder, is it really that easy to open an emergency exit?

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