Delta passenger arrested for opening plane door then escaping down inflatable slide as plane prepared for takeoff

A Delta airlines Boeing 737 MAX is seen at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2022.
A Delta Air Lines passenger was arrested on Saturday after opening the plane's emergency exit door.
Daniel Slim—AFP/Getty Images

A Delta Air Lines passenger was arrested over the weekend for allegedly opening an airplane’s emergency exit door as it was pushing away from the airport gate and preparing for takeoff.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in an emailed statement on Monday that it was investigating an incident involving a passenger on board Delta flight 1714 from Los Angeles to Seattle on Saturday morning.

A spokesperson for the regulator said the passenger had opened the door of the Boeing 737 jet, deployed the inflatable emergency exit slide, and exited the plane while it was still stationary but preparing for takeoff.

A Delta representative told Fortune via email on Monday that the flight had returned to the gate on Saturday due to “an unruly passenger.”

“The aircraft was holding to taxi for takeoff when the passenger exited the aircraft and was initially detained by Delta staff ahead of being arrested by local law enforcement,” they said. “Customers were reaccommodated on a new aircraft.”

A spokesperson for Los Angeles Airport Police was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fortune.

Data from flight tracker FlightAware shows that the flight arrived in Seattle almost four hours late, after taxiing for just over four hours.

Delta said Monday that it apologized for the delays experienced by passengers on the flight to Seattle.  

Gillian Sheldon, a passenger on the plane, described the incident in a series of tweets sent out from the plane.

“Holy sh*t,” she said. “Just as my flight was leaving the gate at LAX a man ran up from the back of the plane & opened the door. Flight attendants tried to stop him but he deployed the slide and jumped out.”

She later told NBC News that the passenger was “clearly” agitated as he attempted to escape the aircraft.

“[A flight attendant] said ‘you cannot open the door’ and grabbed him, and within two seconds he opened the door,” Sheldon told the news outlet.

NBC News reported that the FBI had been informed of the incident by local law enforcement, but it was unclear whether the passenger was facing charges.

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