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American Airlines Passenger Reportedly Restrained With Duct Tape After Trying To Open Door Mid-Flight

Fellow passengers and flight attendants helped subdue a man after he tried to open an emergency exit door shortly after the plane took off from Albuquerque.

Screenshot from news video of the suspect and his arrest
ABC 7 Chicago/YouTube

Passengers on an American Airlines flight bound for O'Hare International in Chicago didn't get very far due to an unruly passenger who tried to open the emergency door mid-flight.

Not long after the plane departed Albuquerque, New Mexico, witnesses said a man on board allegedly tried to force the exit door open.

But airline staff and passengers said "not today."

They acted quickly and managed to wrestle the aggressive individual away from the door and into the aisle where they subdued and forcibly restrained him by using duct tape and zip cuffs.

Here are a couple of clips filmed by passengers.

An airline spokesperson told CNN that AA flight 1219 managed to turn back around “due to a disturbance in the cabin involving a disruptive customer."

They added:

"The flight landed safely and the aircraft was met by local law enforcement upon arrival.”

One of the passengers named Donnie who subdued the suspect shared a photo of the chaos and described what went down on X (formerly Twitter).



Passenger Zach Etkind was one of the first to take the man down.

He recalled:

“I heard people yelling in the back. I thought guys were fighting, but it was a man trying to open the door.”

Etkind noticed that the "big dude" already had the safety mechanism down and was yanking the handle using both hands.

"I could hear the actual difference in pressure...there was actual whistling," said Etkind.

You can watch a news report here.

Man duct-taped on flight to Chicago after trying to open door, passengers

Another passenger on the flight, Emma Ritz, said that the man sitting at the emergency exit “cracked open the window that was protecting the handle” on the door.

She told CNN affiliate KOAT:

“He ripped down the handle where it exposed some of the emergency exit and all the wind came rushing down.

Ritz added:

"The guy was screaming 'I want to get out' when he was restrained."
"I'm just curious what was going on with him, why he needed to get out of the plane."

There was good news.

People thanked Donnie and his fellow passengers for their quick thinking.

Amateur comedians had some questions for Donnie, and they also made wisecracks.

Donnie said the canceled flight was rescheduled for the following morning, but he seemed to be making the most of it by indulging in some airport terminal drinks–a.k.a. Termies.

He wrote in a follow-up post:

"After a solid 3 hours of crushing Termies have been informed we’re not flying out till tomorrow morning."
"It’s a bad night to be the Ramada Plaza in midtown Albuquerque!"


Cheers, Donnie! Thank you for your service.

The FAA said that as of Sunday, there have been 250 incidents of unruly passengers reported by flight crews this year.