Passenger Can’t Take American Airlines Delay Anymore, Opens Exit Door And Pops The Slide

An American Airlines passenger performed his best Howard Beale from the 1978 film Network on Thursday when the carrier cancelled flight 2398 from Charlotte to Baltimore – after a two hour delay, boarding, and push back from the gate. However there was no one to attach the jet bridge and let everyone off. So the flight full of customers waited. And waited. And waited.

They waited, that is, until our hero decided to open an emergency exit on the full Oasis’d Boeing 737 with 172 passengers, climb out onto the wing, and jump down onto the tarmac.

The man was eventually captured and led away in handcuffs. Come to think of it, maybe he was doing his best Steven Slater. The man has been temporarily banned from flying the airline ‘pending investigation’.

According to the carrier,

After boarding was complete, American Airlines flight 2396, with service from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), canceled due to severe weather restricting air traffic throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. While waiting for the jet bridge to be repositioned, a passenger opened the over-wing emergency exit and jumped onto the ramp.

The customer was immediately detained by American team members before being placed into custody by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police. All other customers deplaned normally via jet bridge once the forward boarding door was reopened. We thank our team members for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.

As the holiday weekend began, airports and airlines were stressed with the return of passengers and not even staff, compounded by the usual summer weather. As I departed Washington’s National airport on Thursday morning I was grateful to have checked in using American’s mobile app, as well as to have both PreCheck and CLEAR. Even so, I wound up spending an unplanned four hours in Charlotte myself on Thursday.

Lines of are the order of the day everywhere right now in travel, as when I arrived home in Austin I noticed the long queue for.. ice cream.

Bring your patience. Bring extra time. Know your backup options. And recognize that when things go south you may just have to bag your plans for the night and try again the next day (credit card trip delay is great for covering those costs when the airline won’t). But whatever you do, please don’t start a brawl with other passengers or take matters into your own hands and head down the emergency slide.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Pretty much no one is less of a fan of government regulation than I. My philosophy is that most any sentence starting with “Should the government …” is to be answered “no.”

    But by God, if we are going to be giving these incompetent jackasses billions of our dollars, which we shouldn’t, they need to have the absolute hell regulated out of them, with gigantic fines for non-compliance.

  2. What do you want?? The executives of this POS company are too busy virtue signaling and polishing their BLM pins to focus on running their airline. At least we can congratulate Doug and his team for being named to the Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index.

    I feel bad for the rank and file employees. There is no help coming from corporate. You’re on our own. So are the passengers.

  3. I like how their statement glosses over the fact that the passengers waited for the air bridge for a long time. The weather they can’t control but they can control the passenger experience, as in, timely actions on their part. I agree with @toomanybooks. We need more, not less, regulations but it needs to be something like the EU has. We should not be held on the tarmac forever. Don’t load the plane until you know you can leave or unload the plane if you have to wait for very long. I would imagine if they automatically owed us for long delays (not weather-related) that we’d get to where we are going in a more timely manner.

  4. Welcome to the realities of travel during the Summer of Post Pandemic: Nearly everywhere is overcrowded, understaffed, and overpriced. The result is predictable tension that occasionally leads to rage. The only way to “win” at this and escape it is to choose not to play. Sooner or later, this too will end. When the kiddies go back to school and/or inflation makes the cost of even a seat on Spirit prohibitive, another “new normal” will take hold.

  5. You get what you vote for! Biden’s America…barely functioning just like Biden!

  6. Proud of your airline, Doug? Or, are you too busy chasing “diversity” to even notice the operational meltdown at American Airlines?

  7. He should sue the airline for mental and emotional distress as well as kidnaping and assault.
    I wonder if a jury would side with him or the evil airline?

  8. Landed at MIA yesterday on AA 2906.
    There was no ground staff to attach the jet bridge to the plane.
    Fellow passengers waited at least 20 minutes to deplane.
    Some passengers had tight connections.

    I feel bad for the passengers who waited 2 hours to get off the airplane.

  9. “You get what you vote for! Biden’s America…barely functioning just like Biden!” What a dumb shit response.

  10. I find it amazing that some American Airlines team members were able to immediately capture him on the ground, but there were no team members available to get this airplane taxied into a gate immediately! I am a 30 plus year employee if this one great airline that has now turned into a shitshow of an airline. Time to go Doug, and the rest of your worthless cronies as well.

  11. American is a disgrace. By offering incentives to furloughed staff and overtime, they could ramp up staffing to meet the need tomorrow. They have just made the decision to save the money and inconvenience passengers. Of course it won’t stop them from going back to the trough for more government cash if they think they can get it.
    It’s extremely short sighted because employees will get fed up with the abuse, and absenteeism, slowdowns and even worse customer service (if that’s possible) are inevitable.

  12. These passengers are such whiners. Don’t they know about everything AA does for “diversity and inclusion”?

  13. @Texan@heart I am not sure it will get any better. The airline industry for 30 years has been incrementally reducing service. The airlines count on the fact they can reduce service or make the travel experience worse and it prompts a few weeks of outrage and then everyone accepts it as the new normal till the airlines take something else away again in a few months. All the people who were saying it was no big deal to not have food and beverage service on flights this past summer are just playing into this mode of operations. Give the airlines a pass to reduce service and they will take advantage of it. What are you going to do quit flying AA just to fly equally crappy UA or Delta? For many of us, we have no choice because it is AA or nothing. I have been choosing nothing for the past 15 months despite being Executive Platinum for the past 18 consecutive years. I have been driving to meetings and it has been quite liberating to not be concerned about canceled flights, drama on the planes, mask mandates, and maintaining status on the airline.

  14. @Mike I am disappointed to hear about our failure to meet your expectations and would be honored to have you rejoin our “Flagship” quality experience. Please email me your Aadvantage number and I will send a free 500 mile upgrade.

  15. Handcuffs or not, I would have done the same. American Airlines has sunken to the bottom of the barrel since the merger creating the new “US Airways”. Absolutely no excuse sitting on the tarmac excessively if the flight is cancelled. It’s just common sense…especially if at a hub airport. Get it together American Airlines!

  16. @ Don — The mess we are in was created by Donald Trump and The Fed. The crook had 4 years to acrew things up. Biden has been in office for 5 months.

  17. What in the name of God does divserty have to do with flying in a airplane nothing make them give us our 20 myouillion back if they can’t do any better

  18. Good Grief – difficult to understand many of the reprehensible & willfully ignorant comments here – Moral cowardice is alive and well.
    Regardless,, of all that; on a daily bases American Airlines demonstrates their lack of vision and commitment to servicing their general customer base. American Airlines has regressed to the level of a Greyhound Bus of airline travel.

  19. @Don
    Hey Donnie boy, who came before “Sleepy Joe Biden?” How bout that “Chump?” What a great man is he. Another “Chump Fool.”

  20. Bottom line is there isn’t enough people to fill the jobs. 99% of the unemployed are “unemployable” due to poor work history, inability to pass a drug test and just being lazy. And too many people flying with no clue how to quickly board a plane and navigate an airport. Amazing how unprepared many not frequent flyers are. They are like deer in the headlights and slow everything down which isn’t helping the short staffing situation.

  21. The trumpy traitors are like head lice. The whole country needs to shave and flush.

  22. Don you are correct we got what the Libs voted for–Demented Joe//And he will continue to make it worse by giving away our entire Treasury$$$$$$ We need President Trump back asap!!!!

  23. We have the most stressful run down dilapidated airports in the world. The TSA is there to harass you and how does having a joint with me in my bag threaten the flight it does not. And thanks to the Trump cult so-called g o p they do absolutely do nothing except push a big f****** lie about election fraud they have no policies No Agenda except to kiss Trump’s ass

  24. I am highly claustrophobic but I do take medications that helps when I fly, but sitting on a crowded plane for hrs on a tarmac or whatever would have caused me a panic attack and I too would be looking for a way off that plane.

  25. Hey dee you need to have your head examined if you think that Trump didn’t create this mess. The only thing that I would to see is that criminal in handcuffs, and I nice oranges jump suit to match in skin color

  26. @don a famous man said” don’t worry, this will be cleared up by easter”. Too bad we can’t blame Obama for the mess Doug has made at AA.Bring back Don Carty.

  27. Do you realize how much money these people make? 8.bucks an hour and they have to go through clearance and drug testing raise minimum wage. And everyone needs to get used to really shitty service because those people found other jobs and no one wants them. Dining, shopping any customer service will get worse and worse tell the minimum wage is raised, so we can blame who for that now? GOP
    Mitch McConnell does nothing

  28. We had a flight from Tampa cancelled after the online check in process started 2 hours earlier. AA said they would try to rebook us( with us using our connection). No chance we were able to book a flight from Tampa to Regan then to Akron Canton . We had to pay extra due to seats available…. No explanation why cancelled a full flight in the first week of June.

  29. If you fly American Ailines (the evil empire of airlines) your gonna get exactly what you deserve. Have fun bitches

  30. My husband has been stuck in DFW for 24 hours at this point. Somehow American managed to get his bags to his destination, but not him. As I write this, his flight out is delayed 2 hours so far, as they try to find pilots. And he still has to make an unwanted connection to get to his final. No offer from American for anything. You’re just on your own now when they strand you. He’s a Million Miler, but it may be time to abandon this airline.

  31. The US system is a broken, big lie. Since the radical US deregulation of airlines, customers have NO rights. Where else in the “advanced” countries can you pay $100s with NO guarantee you will ever see the product you’ve paid for? Not Europe, where they have a legal ststem that protects people. AA is merely the latest symptom of breakdown. It is exists in all sectors where deregulation has removed all restraints. Refund your baggage fees? Two of our family members were recently (June 24) held on the tarmac for 4 hours by AA; then forced to pay $240 to retrieve the luggage they paid to check.

    The idea of contracts, the foundation of capitalism, is under seige. Banks can set up “ghost” accounts for people without informing them…and do. If a business discovers that “account” they can and do set up payments for which you are liable. If your outside ATM malfunctions, lots of luck. No one is responsible, except you. I now have no faith in any of them.

  32. You know? I was waiting for another exasperated out-of-control person do just that in two flights on American Wednesday and Friday.
    Wednesday was the second leg and we sat on the plane withe the jet bridge just retracted for two hours. Got there to get straight to bed. Hate that but at least the cause was lightning in the area… Got to be safe withe ramp crews.
    Friday was the first leg: we pulled off and then stopped for mechanical review. We weren’t told the reason. The pilot kept telling us 5 minutes and we’re gone every 15 minutes. 1:40 hours later, I know I’m missing my connection and I’m hungry and angry. Why wouldn’t they deplane us instead of making us wait in this sardine can?, I think. But everyone is well behaved and I am too.
    On arrival the pilot states we are on time. Really? Maybe he mistook the central time in his watch for eastern time.
    The flight attendant carefully avoided giving an ETA even when I asked directly.
    Then reality really crushes me when my connection is gone and I’m at the mercy of this unmotivated desk agent who doesn’t greet customers, can’t find my reservation by my name, and needs help from another during the whole change…
    I hate American and I hate American Eagle even more. It’s like flying a government airline, where the few good people end up overshadowed by incompetency and indifference. I wish they finally went bankrupt do they don’t get pushed on me by my company’s travel booking system.

  33. Where did the money go to pay the workers salaries.our tax paying American. Citizens..Our taxes to pay all the Airlines salaries??????????

  34. All those moronic democrats in the responses here…enjoy comrade Biden’s ASSR …LOL
    so glad Iam far away from that country…
    Just get a BLM Pin and print another 15Trillions …inflation, who cares…
    Americans…lol

  35. @Bus Pilot right, the man would have jumped down from the trailing (most likely) edge of the wing. The article title is wildly inaccurate.

  36. Government help to unemployed is making tough to provide services. Not lot of people are coming to work or applying for work. Not until services and lots of people are dissatisfied that Biden Government will get their act together.

  37. Give it a rest people! All of these complaints and even the writer if the article calling the person who blew the door and slide a “hero” and airlines crooked have no idea how hard the airline employees are working to get this GIGANTIC SURGE in passenger load from point A to point B safely and efficiently.

    That “hero” just caused the next most likely completely full planeload and downstream plane loads of passengers to not be able to fly….the good of the one (himself and the currently occupied plane) clearly outweighed the multitude of others. That his momentary relief caused his many others not to make it to their destinations is not considered at all. That aircraft is now OUT OF SERVICE until that $20-50k slide can be replaced… fortunately it was “in base” as Charlotteis an American hub and maintenance personnel are there IF is a replacement slide is avaliable. But that will then need tested and certified as safe before it can go back in service … and who knows how long that will take!

    One year ago most of the employees that are dealing with this surge in traffic were either laid off or furloughed and their numbers are still slowly being replaced. Sure, its easy to blame the airline for not staffing properly. But the countless hours it takes to keep pilots certifications up to date, the flight attendants too. And the gate agents, they were all mostly let go, ground crew too. Many of them havent returned. And the ones that have are being vilified are massively overworked. And the ground crews that guide in your plane…well there gone too and slowly returning ir being replaced. The staffing shortage you see at restaurants, guess what folks, the airports are facing that and more….and their staff requires far more skill and training than a server or a host!

    Be thankful you can travel and go from place to place. It just might not be in the exact time frame you were planning for. Nothing in the past year has gone according to previous experience or expectation. Blaming the overworked and understaffed is not the answer unless you just because you like to blow hot misinfirmes and misguided air.

  38. There is no escape slide on a 737 overwing exit. They are only on the 2 entry and 2 galley doors. You open the exit hatch and slide off the flap trailing edge. Larger airplanes have overwing slides but not on 737.

  39. @todd jones—I’ll bet some of the $ for payroll went to removing any remaining seatback screens. Just wait until Doogie Parker decides that wide-body, long haul aircraft don’t need IFE either. Parker and the rest of US Air management should be fired and replaced with competent and visionary people.

  40. That’s HOWARD Beale, from the 1976 film Network. Hoard Beale is probably on the A&E 2012 series “Hoarders”.

  41. After reading these comments and as always most are blaming someone for everything! Friday in Charlotte delays were mostly due to weather not in Charlotte. Which caused delays getting out of their cities to Charlotte and caused crew delays to meet their Charlotte flight! The FAA towers control air traffic in the air and on the ground – not the airlines (American, American Eagle, Delta, United, etc)
    President Biden is not responsible for your inconvenience/ his administration gave the financial assistance needed to keep the airlines up and going when people weren’t flying! His new administration is already preparing to hold all the airlines responsible for luggage issues.
    These characters opening the exit doors and contributing to delays and cancellations- Big Daaaa! Thank them don’t blame the airlines.
    Blame should go to the passengers that are attacking flight attendants, gate agents and ramp agents and going after pilots in the cock pit doing their jobs! And the passengers that don’t listen to the announcements follow directions and miss their flights and throw their temper tantrums, continues to not wear their mask, get in fights with agents and other passengers/ slowing up boarding, causing returning to gates and cancelling flights!
    Before posting your comment think long and hard about the situation that you have found yourself in and what can be controlled and not!

  42. American Airlines is acting very des respectfully with their clients . It’s hard to believe that they overlooked the fights accidentally. It shows incompetence and disdain towards the clients. It’s unacceptable . I feel bad for the man, who could not wait anymore. Only God knows his level of anxiety. Unfortunately, I have a flight booked for July 16th, I wish I could cancel it , but sadly I can’t. My teen is coming with me, I can predict the nightmare is waiting us. God bless America . Let the poor man go home and enjoy his holiday in peace. It is the least that American Airlines should do, after all distress they are causing us. Thank you.

  43. Dear Ms Curico plan ahead check the weather it is summer, travel in the middle of the day so rebooking will give you options! If you are connecting go to your next gate to make sure you are there and no the status of your flight before venturing away to shop or eat if there is lay over time! Remember boarding start at least 30 minutes prior and the door closes 10 prior to departure time (15 minutes if all confirmed passengers are boarded) Listen to all announcements take your headset off and don’t miss your flight because you were on the phone or watching a movie!
    You have to do your part to make your flight happen as smoothly as possible!
    Don’t look for problems when there aren’t any – if there is a problem rest assure the staff will get you and your child on the next available flight!
    They want flights to arrive and depart on Time!

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