By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Passengers on a flight bound for the Twin Cities said a man tried opening one of the plane’s exit doors while they were in the air.

It happened Saturday on an American Airlines flight coming from Los Angeles.

In a cell phone video shot by passenger Richard Munassi, you can see police escorting a man in sunglasses off the plane once it landed at Minneapolis – St. Paul Airport (MSP).

Navigating through the airport can sometimes feel like an adventure, but frequent flyer Munassi will tell you it’s a lot calmer on land than what he experienced Saturday in the sky.

“There was a lot of yelling and screaming. I thought perhaps two of the passengers had gotten into maybe a fist fight,” he said.

The scuffle he heard was actually passengers trying to stop a man from opening an exit door mid-flight as the airplane was descending.

“It wasn’t immediately after (the pilot) letting us know that we were in descent. It was a couple of minutes afterward so he had a plan to open that door as we were getting close to the ground,” Munassi said.

Another witness on board, Salman Elmi, watched as passengers tried to subdue the man the man who was reaching for the door handle until flight attendants were able to help. “It was a crazy experience. I just hear shouting, ‘I’m about to punch him,'” Elmi said of another passenger who was trying to stop the man.

Both Elmi and Munassi said the flight crew handled the situation well.

“I think American Airlines did a great job, especially the pilot of the plane kind of keeping everything in order and keeping everyone calm,” said Munassi.

Once the man was subdued and seated, Munassi said the pilot told everyone on board to buckle up for a quick landing. “We came in hot, probably the hottest landing I’ve ever been on and I fly all the time,” he said. “Everyone was dead quiet on the flight. You could cut the tension with a knife.”

Once safely on ground, several officers escorted the man off the flight. Munassi said the man didn’t resist police, show emotion, or say a word as he passed down the aisle.

Roughly 24 hours later Munassi was back at MSP, ready to hop on another plane like he does so often.

And despite what happened during his last flight, he’s carrying no concerns on board with him.

“Honestly I’m just happy that I’m here today and nothing happened to our flight and I’m happy to be here,” he said.

A MSP spokesperson said because the incident happened midflight the investigation was turned over to the FBI.

WCCO reached out to the FBI for more information on the incident and the man escorted off the plane but didn’t hear back Sunday night.

Jeff Wagner

Comments (26)
  1. Thanks to the laws of physics the doors can’t be opened in flight.

    1. Shhh! Let the crazies stay focused on the door so they don’t try something more effective!

    2. Robert:
      Yes, the cabin pressurization makes it impossible to open the door in flight unless you’re the Incredible Hulk. Was a civilian aircraft mechanic and I’ve had to explain this every now and then over the years.

    3. Buzz Schranz says:

      They were in the descent phase and it depends on the altitude when the attempt was made. The lower the plane, the lower the differential pressure, the easier it is to open the door. So you’re correct, or maybe not.

  2. Tom Ronson says:

    There have been quite a few incidents such as this one on airplanes. The problem has to do with the FBI; they seldom file charges against these people. If the FBI would begin filing charges and sending people to prison for 8-10 years, then other people would take notice. These incidents would stop if people faced a prison sentence.

  3. Jack Pod says:

    Perhaps he thought it was the door to the rest room.