United Passenger Opens Exit Door, Walks Onto Wing, After Flight Touches Down In Chicago

United Airlines redeye flight 2478 from San Diego to Chicago O’Hare landed this morning – and a passenger opened an emergency exit door – and walked out onto the wing of the moving aircraft. Here’s video from inside the cabin:

The incident occurred around 4:30 a.m. as the aircraft taxied to gate B3. Once on the wing the passenger “slid down onto the airfield” where he was stopped by airline employees and taken into custody by policy.

According to United Airlines,

This morning United flight 2478 was taxiing toward the gate at Chicago O’Hare when a passenger opened an aircraft door and exited the plane. Our ground crew stopped the individual outside of the aircraft, and the person is now with law enforcement. The plane then arrived at the gate and all passengers deplaned safely. The safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority.

A woman on the aircraft relays that other passengers were yelling out “no! no! no!” and everyone was in shock, with a flight attendant asking people around the exit door what had happened?

Oddly the man didn’t go out the exit door closest to him. He was apparently in a middle seat, crawled over the passenger in the aisle, and then the passengers in the exit row across from him. There’s not yet any explanation for the passenger’s motive, or what triggered the decision to leave the plane by the (second) quickest route possible minutes from arriving at the gate.

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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  1. Any guesstimates at the % of America that is Fing Nuts? It has to be high. This type of stuff just doesn’t happen anywhere else. It is becoming the norm in the US.

    @Tim j: scary, right? They are all around.

  2. A redeye flight with a total travel time of just 3.5 hours, departing 10:30 PM and arriving at 4:00 AM. This would absolutely screw up your sleep schedule for a week. But, I’m sure they got a good fare!

  3. I will say, as someone whose home airport is ORD, it seems like time from wheels down to arrival at the gate has increased 10x lately. My last 2 flights it’s taken 20m+ to reach the gate. Maybe he just figured he could walk faster.

  4. Shaun,
    To your point – over the past year, I have taken a lot of regional (UA) flights in and out of ORD and found that sometimes we spent more time taxi’ing than in flight (yes, I timed it) – especially since after landing, we always appeared to have taken the long and very scenic way around the airport . When I asked others about it, the answer was “well, that’s ORD”…


  5. It doesn’t address the most important issue, was he wearing a mask? #science

  6. Safety first. Although your awesome flight attendants never told you this, passengers should wait for the aircraft to completely stop before opening an emergency exit hatch at an overwing exit. Also, to help prevent ground crew injuries in the aircraft operating area, be careful not to drop the heavy emergency exit hatch on the tarmac. Furthermore, to avoid slip and fall injuries and reduce the pilot’s burden in completing an FAA safety, hazard, and accident report to the Aviation Safety Reporting Program, passengers should never walk on the wings of a moving aircraft.

  7. Ah, sorry for those who missed the Golden Age of flying. When flights were slower, layovers longer, seats wider, food, especially coffee much better, FA’s were required to follow standards including their weight and the flying public dressed for Sunday morning service to fly. America continues to slide into the sewer for once your drop standards it’s much harder to restore them.

  8. At least he didn’t dive into the engine/fan blades after he deplaned, so I guess that should count as a win.

  9. He did it to support the wearing of masks and AFA’s support of abortion up until the last second before birth……or even after if Ralph Northam got his way.

  10. United Airlines passengers who use an overwing emergency exit to expedite getting to their next departure gate on time should consider purchasing the United Signature Service℠, provided by Global Airport Concierge. You will receive an elevated level of assistance during your time at the airport. This service is available for United customers traveling to, from, or through Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

    A United Signature Service concierge will help throughout your time at the airport. For example, if you want to relax before your flight and enjoy top-shelf adult beverages, you will have access to one of three United Club℠ locations in Chicago. Your United Signature Service concierge can make your United Airlines club-hopping dreams become a reality. In addition, your concierge will monitor your flight, guide you to or from your gate, assist with check-in and arrange any travel changes or airport accommodations that you might need.

  11. I don’t see anyone walking on the wing in this video. If the police don’t know, perhaps we can check with the policy department.

  12. The length of ORD taxi times needs a special warning for the uninitiated: in the app, on the boarding pass, and during in flight announcements.

  13. I don’t care whether this sick nut job is “sick” or not. A national “do not fly list” would see to it that he never flies again. Take AMTRAK. “Sick” or not, the re-stowing of the emergency slide is going to be a $20,000 issue for the airline. While squeezing “blood from a turnip” is impossible, sue him and take every nickel the airline can. Cause the airline to divert because of misbehavior…send the bum a bill. The airline might not collect any of it, but garnish wages until it hurts. There is NO…NO excuse for bad behavior on an airline flight…ZERO. I’m an airline employee. I am a pilot instructor. Flight attendants are the first line of defense for every person on that aircraft. They should not have to deal with this type of passenger…PERIOD but, alas, they have no choice. Screw around on an American flagged carrier and pay the price…handsomely!

  14. Hahah my wife and I have a running log of United taxi times at ord. They’re insanely long atm. I think 29 mins our current record.

    I’m not sure also how every gate at terminal 5 is a 3 mile walk to customs.

  15. @Win
    Well now Mr. Pilot Instructor, care to tell me more about the overwing exit slides on the 737-900. I’m guessing you’re really a ramp rat but I’ll give you a shot.

  16. Aviation reporting is bad enough without silly typos.

    “..was taken into custody by policy.”

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