Man sparks panic on India flight after confusing rear door of plane with toilet

Adam Withnall
File: An aircraft belonging to GoAir Airlines flies over a residential area in south-west Delhi: Getty Images

A passenger flying for the first time sparked panic on a flight in India when he tried to open the rear exit of the plane, mistaking it for the door to the toilet.

A police spokesman said the man in his late twenties was seen by fellow passengers, and when challenged he “told them he needed to use the washroom urgently and kept tugging at the exit door”.

Cabin crew on the GoAir flight from Delhi to Patna, northeast India were forced to wrestle the man away from the door, according to Indian media reports, and he was persuaded to take a seat for the remainder of the flight before being handed over to airport security upon arrival.

A spokesperson for GoAir told The Independent the incident took place on the 1hr 45mins flight G8 149 to Patna on Saturday evening. The plane landed safely.

“A passenger was trying to open the rear door of the aircraft while in the air,” the spokesperson said. “A co-passenger raised the alarm and he was intercepted by the crew. Post arrival, the passenger was handed over to CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) for further investigation.”

CISF, a branch of the Indian military that has been in charge of airport security since 2001, told the Times of India the man had successfully unlocked the rear door but was unable to open it due to cabin pressure. That claim was contradicted by an airline source, who said the doors cannot be unlocked when there is a big difference in pressure between the cabin and outside the plane.

CISF escorted the man off the plane upon arrival at Patna and handed him over to local police, who questioned him about his motives.

Sanowar Khan, the officer in charge of the local police, said there was “pandemonium” on the plane when the young man, a banker and first-time flier, started trying to open the door.

Khan told The Telegraph newspaper: “People asked him why he was doing so (trying to open the exit gate). He told them that he needed to use the washroom urgently and kept tugging at the exit door. Pandemonium prevailed amid all this and he was restrained and finally handed over to us. He said that the confusion happened because he had boarded a flight for the first time in his life.”

Police checked the man’s records to confirm he had never flown before, and released him later that evening.