An airplane door open, showing a big red arrow.

Woman Detained After Trying to Open an Airplane Door at 37,000 Feet and Biting Passenger in the Thigh

Passengers on a Southwest flight that had left Houston and was bound for Columbus, Ohio, had no plans to visit Arkansas. However, that happened on one November 2022 flight, which had to make an emergency landing due to an out-of-control passenger. 

Why she lost control is almost as wild as what she did. 

Buckle your seat belt and keep reading; you won’t believe this!

What Happened on a Flight Leaving Houston in November 2022?

Mid-way through a Southwest flight, a flight attendant confronted Elom Agbegninou, who was staring at the exit door. The flight attendant requested that Agbegninou use the restroom or return to her seat. However, Agbegninou asked to look out the window.

The flight attendant did not grant the request, but Agbegninou didn’t care. She began pulling on the door handle to open the door. A nearby passenger heard the commotion and assisted the flight attendant.

Unfortunately, Agbegninou decided it was a good idea to bite the assisting passenger. The passenger had to press on Agbegninou’s throat to make her release the bite. The passenger and flight attendant restrained Agbegninou until the flight landed at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Agbegninou told authorities that Jesus had told her to board the plane and try to open the door. 

The incident turned the three-hour flight into a six-hour flight. In addition, the passenger who Agbegninou bit was treated at the hospital and given antibiotics and a hepatitis shot.

Pilot Charged With Grand Larceny After Threatening to Fly Into a Walmart

How Was the Woman Who Tried to Open the Airplane Door Detained?

The responding passenger tackled Agbegninou to the ground. Despite being bitten by Agbegninou, the passenger helped restrain Agbegninou and hold her in place. The passenger jammed their fingers into Agbegninou’s jaw to help get her to release the bite.

S/W Airline Flight Makes Emergency Landing After “Jesus Told Woman To Open The Emergency Door.”

After releasing the other passenger, Agbegninou proceeded to bang her head on the plane floor. Reports indicate that when authorities boarded the plane, they found Agbegninou detained with plastic flex cuffs, which many airlines keep available for these situations.

What Charges Is the Woman Facing?

Agbegninou’s divinely inspired flight is causing her to face charges of assault within maritime and territorial jurisdiction and interference with crew members and attendants. She later appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe regarding the charges.

Agbegninou’s council had her turned over to the U.S. Marshal Service until experts could fully evaluate her mental status. The investigation awaited the results of the evaluation, and the charges remained pending until the courts received them. 

How Do You Handle an Angry Passenger on a Plane?

If an angry passenger is on board, passengers should allow the flight’s crew to handle the situation. They are professionals with training to handle these situations. However, offering assistance is a good idea, especially if the angry passenger can physically overwhelm the flight crew.

The last thing you want to do is to escalate the situation. Acting aggressively or attempting to intimidate the angry passenger could only worsen the situation. However, if the passenger begins trying to open the cockpit door or the exit door, you may have no other choice but to involve yourself.

Passenger seated inside a large commercial airplane.

Should you need to help restrain the angry passenger, you must maintain control of them. However, avoid using excessive force, or you could face a lawsuit or potential charges.

What Can the Cabin Crew Do If a Passenger Continues to Act Aggressively?

Airlines typically provide their crews with restraint kits that they can use to restrain passengers. In addition, the pilot could request to make an emergency landing at the nearest airport. If that’s the case, officials will likely eject the passenger from the plane to face charges.

Law enforcement and airlines take these situations very seriously. Officials could blacklist passengers from flying with a specific airline or any airline.

However, being unable to fly on the airlines is likely the least of their worries. The charges they’ll face can be severe and have profound consequences. 

The FAA introduced a zero-tolerance policy in January 2021. The policy states, “Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment.”

Which Airline Has a Reputation for the Most Unruly Passengers?

Unfortunately, airlines across the board have earned a reputation since 2021 for having high numbers of unruly passengers. Early 2021 was among the highest number of unruly passengers in the airline industry’s history.

Some research indicates it was up nearly 500% across the industry. However, 72% of the incidents involved the requirement for passengers to wear a mask during the pandemic.

Regardless of the reasoning, there’s no excuse for unruly passengers. Luckily, more recent research indicates the incidents have dropped by as much as 50% over the last year.

Is Air Travel Safe?

Unruly passengers and the types of situations that Agbegninou created are scarce. Air travel is one of the safest forms of travel. The airlines and the FAA do not play around regarding these incidents. Airlines have individual blacklists that allow them to ban passengers from flying with them. 

However, these are separate lists from the FAA’s no-fly list, and most airlines do not share their ban list. There has been a push for airlines to collaborate to create a robust system that can help keep travelers safe while flying.

Do you think there should be a collaborative ban list to prevent these situations from occurring on other flights?

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