South Florida Passenger Gets Free Pass After Opening Aircraft Door And Popping Slide

Friday evening’s American Airlines flight 2289 from Miami to Los Angeles was delayed a little over four hours after a passenger on board popped the slide on the 4L door of the Boeing 777 prior to departure.

According to a flight attendant on the flight, the “passenger says they thought it was the bathroom door.”

The scheduled 7:40 p.m. departure ultimately pushed back at 11:51 p.m. while the airline found another aircraft. According to an American Airlines spokesperson,

The customer was compliant and a replacement aircraft was used for the flight.

There you have it. You can delay a planeload of passengers and crew, and imposing a substantial expense on the airline, and as long as you’re compliant (have a good faith belief you’re entering the lav, apparently) you can get away without consequences.

In China it’s not entirely uncommon for passengers to throw coins into the engines of their aircraft for good luck (aircraft engines are not wishing wells and this is not good for them). However charges usually aren’t pressed. It happened so often that at one point the airport in Sanya put up a sign warning passengers not to do this.

It’s incredible the damage that well-meaning passengers can do, the things an airline might need insurance for, and the extent to which stupidity is a defense. Just show immediate contrition don’t head down the slide, run around the tarmac and hide in the airport fire station.

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, 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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  1. I thought of a scene in Dudley Do-Right when he put an artillery shell backwards in a cannon. When Snidely Whiplash was told that he was doing this he replied, “Nobody can be that stupid.” Oh yes they can.

  2. The consequence of unintentionally blowing out an aircraft evacuation slide produces one pricey poop. To avoid a pesky emergency evacuation slide deployment, I recommend putting bilingual warnings on the emergency exit doors, saying, “This is NOT the exit to the lavatory. Turn around, and don’t forget to flush.”

  3. Inquiring minds want to know if the South Florida passenger who got a free pass after unintentionally popping an evacuation slide causing a four-hour departure delay was an American Airlines Concierge Key elite passenger.

  4. It is possible that it may have been an elderly passenger, perhaps someone with cognitive problems. If that was the case then pressing charges would not be appropriate.

    As mentioned, several elderly Asian passengers have thrown coins into the engines, thinking they were for good luck. An 80 year old Chinese woman did so, as a “blessing”. A 28 year old Chinese man, who was taking his first airplane flight also did so, and was fined $17,200.

    It all depends on who did it, why and a determination (difficult to do) if the person knew better.

  5. Are 2/3rds of these incidents either in Floriduuuh or involving Floriduuuh airports?

  6. Even that most exit door slide deployments are by crewmembers or other airline employees, it is hard to call the very rare deployment by a passenger a terrorist activity. Presumably this was during boarding so were all of the flight attendants in the aisles and none were monitoring the rear of the aircraft?

  7. @ Gary “There you have it. You can delay a planeload of passengers and crew, and imposing a substantial expense on the airline, and as long as you’re compliant (have a good faith belief you’re entering the lav, apparently) you can get away without consequences.”

  8. People are stupid. If you cannot tell the difference between a large door with a large handle and red strap across the window? And a narrow door with a sliding handle with the words occupied/vacant. You are stupid. Its 2022.

  9. During 1972-90 There were widebody aircraft operating in the domestic route, but now single-aisle aircraft operate from coast to coast which meant passenger is not familiar with flying widebody aircraft. Americans must remind all the FA to not leave the exit area as much as possible to prevent this type of incident.

  10. @ Bill Dwyer

    You are assuming individuals both sober and/or capable of reading English.

    21% of Americans are functionally illiterate.

  11. A bathroom door handle certainly does not resemble by a long shot an airplane door. Also, the weight of each is totally different and not easily to open. The outside door is purposely heavier as it’s intended to eventually help create a vacuum while in the air, making much harder to open aside than the aforementioned weight.
    Who was this individual who “erroneously” miss took one door for the other? A senile on steroids?

  12. Aircraft doors are disarmed during boarding. Only after the door is shut seat belt sign is on. So something is not right about this explanation.

  13. It amazing the stupidity that’s out there, that someone actually believes that a big airplane door, with that big handle, is a lavatory… smh.

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