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.