Panicked passenger opens overwing emergency exit on flight in Zurich

Panicked passenger opens overwing emergency exit on flight in Zurich

While there are people who are scared of flying, not many passengers try to end the flight before it has even begun. However, that was precisely the case for one passenger leaving a Swiss airport, after he opened the emergency overwing exit while the plane was taxiing.

Flight from Zurich to Pristina started without incident

According to 20 minuten, the flight - a 5.45am Chair Airlines service from Zurich to Pristina on December 14 - had just left the gate and was taxiing towards the de-icing station, not surprising given the arctic-like weather in Switzerland in recent days. The passengers had been briefed, the slides had been armed and the plane was set for an early departure from the airport.

However, all this would change once the Airbus A319-100 series reached the de-icing station. According to one eyewitness, “Suddenly, smoke came into the plane from all sides. We didn't know what that was." This caused panic among the passengers, with one taking matters into their own hands.

Passenger opens plane emergency exit while taxiing in Zurich

Speaking to 20 minuten, a spokesperson from Chair Airlines confirmed that, assuming it was smoke, a passenger opened one of the overwing emergency exits without being told to do so, triggering the emergency slide in the process. One eyewitness told the newspaper that as soon as smoke filled the cabin, most scrambled to get their luggage from the overhead bins - the one thing you aren’t supposed to do in an emergency.

However, the smoke the passengers saw was not actually smoke but the haze from the de-icing system. "The haze spread through the ventilation system," noted the airline's spokesperson. They confirmed that the airline would be investigating how the haze managed to get into the cabin.

Flight delayed over 12 hours because of missing door

"We would like to emphasise that at no time was there any danger to either the 132 passengers, the crew or the aircraft," the spokesperson confirmed. The emergency services were not called, passengers were safely escorted off the plane and have since been offered vouchers for the delay. The service later took off without incident - although departure was 12 hours later than planned.

Despite the heavy delay, some travellers saw the funny side of the event. "The funny thing was that we are always told what to do in an emergency and then an emergency comes up and someone [tries to do] something right away," one passenger told 20 minuten.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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