Cancun International Airport is the destination for planes flying in from all over the world every day, but recently it welcomed a flight it wasn’t expecting when a plane had to make an emergency landing at the airport due to a passenger trying to open an emergency door while in flight. According to the flight crew, a man aboard an Avianca flight flying from Bogota to Mexico City attempted to open the door mid-flight.
The situation caused a great deal of fear among the other passengers on the plane, which caused the pilot of the plane to perform an emergency landing at Cancun International.
According to reports, the man aboard Flight AV44 was subdued by flight attendants before a disaster could take place. They reportedly had to grapple with the passenger after observing his unusual behavior and noticing his intentions to open one of the emergency exit doors. The pilot then decided on the unplanned landing after being alerted by the crew, so that the crew could have the man removed from the plane.
The airline made a statement in response to the emergency landing situation, stating that “Flight AV44 that covered the Bogotá-Mexico City route made an unplanned stop in Cancun with the aim of disembarking a disruptive passenger.” The spokesperson for Avianca further stated that “During the flight, the passenger’s behavior and his intention to open one of the doors of the plane aroused alerts from the crew, who timely controlled it – as the procedure indicates – to prevent the flight from being put at risk.”
Fortunately, the crew was able to handle the passenger and diffuse the situation before anyone got hurt. When the plane landed at Cancun International Airport the passenger was handed over to local authorities to be dealt with for his behavior. The flight then continued on to its destination with the remainder of the passengers aboard.
Following the situation that occurred on flight AV44 the airline has called for increasing the penalties for unruly passengers who cause situations like this one. Avianca has also confirmed that it is committed to working side by side with other airlines, the various regulatory and immigration authorities, and the Civil Aeronautics Board to strengthen regulation of such passengers and incidents.
It is not uncommon for pilots to have to make the decision to perform an emergency landing at an airport other than its destination due to out-of-control and disruptive passengers. This has been even more common since the Covid-19 pandemic when passengers were required to wear masks in airports and while on the plane. Now that mask mandates have been lifted in many places throughout the world, we should see fewer of these incidents but there will always be some that take place each year.
Passengers trying to open doors while in-flight, unfortunately, is also not an uncommon situation. In March of 2021, on a Delta flight between Salt Lake City and Oregon, a man attempted to open a door and was stopped by a flight attendant. While an emergency landing was not required the passenger did need to be constantly watched for the remainder of the flight. In February of this year, an emergency landing in Kansas City was required when a passenger on an American Airlines from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. flight tried to open a passenger door.
These situations put passengers and crew at risk and happen more often than we realize. Thankfully, in this case, the plane was able to safely make an emergency landing in Cancun and nobody was hurt.
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