A Southwest Airlines passenger opened an emergency exit and climbed

A Southwest Airlines passenger opened an emergency exit and climbed onto the wing of a plane while the plane was at the gate


A man on a Southwest Airlines flight opened an emergency exit door and climbed onto the plane’s wing on Sunday while the plane was at a gate at New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport, authorities said.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said it responded to a disturbance at the airport after a 38-year-old man opened the emergency exit door to get into the wing and jump out. The aircraft was stationary and had not yet left the gate at the time of the incident. The man was stopped on the ground by staff and held until deputies arrived.

Passenger Zed Webster told CNN he heard what sounded like an argument between two passengers across the aisle and feared they might start a fight. He said he took out his phone and started recording the incident.

Webster said that as soon as the passenger pressed the record button, he unlocked the emergency exit door lock and jumped out the window. “I was terrified,” he said.

In Webster’s video, several passengers can be seen exiting the plane and rushing through the passenger bridge. Later, the video shows an airline employee jumping from the passenger boarding bridge onto the tarmac to help colleagues subdue the passenger.

When officers contacted the passenger on the tarmac, he appeared to be “coherent and not fully aware of his surroundings,” the sheriff’s office said.

The man was “taken to a local hospital for evaluation as officers believed he was suffering from a mental health distress,” the sheriff’s office statement said, and he remains hospitalized.

“There is no evidence that the man left anything behind on the plane, nor were any weapons of any kind found on him,” the statement continued. “He is not expected to be prosecuted locally, but the investigation has been referred to federal authorities. No one was injured in the incident.”

Chris Perry, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines, told CNN in an email: “We commend our flight and ground crews for their quick actions and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

After a delay, the flight took off on a different plane, according to Perry. Webster said the delay was about two hours and the flight arrived in Atlanta just before midnight.