First-time China flier opens emergency exit thinking it is toilet door, sparks evacuation

As a result, the plane had to be emptied of passengers and the flight was cancelled.

The affected passengers were relocated to a hotel and given compensation of 400 yuan (US$55) each.

In China, the unauthorised opening on an aircraft’s emergency exit can result in a large fine, or even detention. Photo: Shutterstock

The woman who opened the emergency door was also taken to the hotel for questioning by police.

Another passenger, surnamed Cheng, said that the woman opened the door quietly, without anyone noticing.

“When the evacuation slide popped out, even the flight attendants were startled. The female passenger was in tears when she heard that she would need to pay damages,” Cheng told the Chongqing Morning Post.

The incident received widespread attention on mainland social media.

On Weibo, one online observer wrote: “Being a first-time flier is no excuse. She could have simply asked the crew where the toilet was.”

“If the emergency door is so easily opened, isn’t it prone to accidental activation? This seems like a design flaw of the aircraft,” said another.

Aircraft exit doors are designed to be easily opened to ensure prompt access in emergencies.

Under normal circumstances, the flight crew would repeatedly remind passengers not to accidentally activate them.

Depending on the aircraft model, the cost of activating an emergency exit door ranges from 100,000 to 200,000 yuan (US$28,000).

Plane passengers said even the cabin crew were startled when the evacuation slide deployed. Photo: Eastern Business News

After an evacuation slide deploys aircraft can be grounded for several days for maintenance.

In China, the unauthorised opening of aircraft emergency exit doors is illegal and can lead to large fines and administrative detention.

In June 2017, a passenger at Beijing Airport was detained for 12 days after inadvertently opening the emergency exit and activating an evacuation slide.

In February 2015, another passenger at an airport in Jilin province, northeastern China, opened an emergency exit door near his seat during taxiing. He had to pay 35,000 yuan (US$4,800) in compensation.

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