The tourist reportedly screamed, jumped out of his seat and opened the plane door during take-off – causing an onslaught of delays which saw flights having to wait in the sky
Shocking footage captures the moment a man tried to open a plane door in the middle of take-off after suffering a panic attack onboard.
Canadian tourist Wong Sai Heung, 40, sparked outrage when he screamed, jumped out of his seat and demanded cabin crew to open the plane door as the aircraft was in the middle of departing Chiang Mai International Airport in Thailand on Wednesday, February 7. The computer engineer from Vancouver reportedly ran towards the door behind the cockpit and pushed it open, which caused the slide to deploy while the plane was in the queue to join the runway and just moments from take-off.
Speaking in handcuffs, he said: “I was very paranoid and had anxiety, it was the thing I had last time on the trip to Vietnam, but it’s pretty much, the second big trip, but it was a big panic attack. I thought I was getting killed in that spot. I’m not doing well. A spokesman said: ‘Officers arrested 40-year-old Canadian computer engineer Wong Sai Heung for causing an act likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft.
“Heung testified confusingly and he claimed he had a panic attack. He was detained before questioning further and the Canadian Embassy, Tourist Police, and an interpreter to assist in the investigation have been brought in to assist with the investigation. The airport’s legal department is also now involved with checking potential additional charges according to aviation laws.”
The alleged outburst also caused an onslaught of delays, with flights having to wait in a holding pattern in the sky. Fed up passengers onboard the jet were transported to a hotel where they waited for the to be rescheduled.
One of the passengers, Watcharapon Pethsurp, said: “A plane was about to take off but someone panicked and tried to open the door. As far as I know, at 9.45 PM, the plane was about to leave before there was a scream and then an announcement from a flight attendant saying that someone panicked and attempted to leave through the exit, causing it to slide open. The plane was unable to fly, and we had to wait for the mechanics to take it back to the pit stop.”
The plane was due to leave Chiang Mai at 9.05 pm and arrive at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok around an hour later. Wing Commander Ronakorn Chalermsanyakorn, Director of Chiang Mai Airport, said the control tower reported to the airport that the plane’s door was opened, just as it was preparing to take off.
He said: “A passenger opened the plane door, causing the seat to slide and spread out, resulting in the aircraft being unable to fly and it was stuck in the middle of the runway, resulting in other flights being unable to take off and take-off at Chiang Mai Airport for a while.”
In a statement, Thai Airways said: “Thai Airways would like to explain the incident on flight TG 121 route Chiang Mai – Bangkok on February 7 with Airbus A320 plane while lining up for take-off at the runway. There was a passenger who opened a plane door, prompting the mechanics to be sent for inspection and repair according to security standards. The flight was able to depart on February 8 at 12.34 am with all passengers, pilots, and flight attendants safely onboard.”
Police said today that Heung has been charged and held in custody. They added he was not under the influence of drink or drugs when he was arrested. Lieutenant Colonel Nattawut Noisorn, deputy superintendent of Phu Ping Ratchaniwet Police Station, said: “The inquiry officer has charged Wong Sai Heung with two offences.
“First, rendering an airplane to be in a condition likely to cause danger to a person, according to Section 232(1) of the Criminal Code. Second, violating or failing to comply with an order of the aircraft commander or that of crew members giving such order on behalf of the aircraft commander, which are orders for the maintenance of safety of the aircraft or persons or property on board, according to Section 7 Paragraph 2 of the Certain Offences against Air Navigation Act.”
“The suspect may face further charges for aviation offences, which are currently being processed by the relevant organisations. Additionally, if the 13 airlines affected by the incident decide to file a report, he could face additional charges.”