4 South Korean airlines will give emergency exit seats to uniformed workers in a new scheme after a passenger opened a door 700 feet in the air

Asiana Airlines' Airbus A321 plane, of which a passenger opened a door on a flight shortly before the aircraft landed, is pictured at an airport in Daegu, South Korea May 26, 2023.
Asiana Airlines' Airbus A321 plane, of which a passenger opened a door on a flight shortly before the aircraft landed.Yonhap via REUTERS
  • An Asiana Airlines passenger made headlines in May as he opened an emergency exit in mid-air.

  • Now, four South Korean airlines are trying to prevent this happening again, per The Korean Times.

  • Uniformed personnel including soldiers and airline workers will be prioritized for exit row seats.

Four South Korean airlines have signed up to a new scheme to try and prevent a repeat of an incident where an Asiana Airlines passenger opened the emergency exit in mid-air, The Korea Times reported.

In May, an Asiana Airlines flight was coming in to land when a passenger opened the emergency exit door at an altitude of 700 feet, minutes before landing.

Nobody was seriously injured, but nine people were taken to hospital after suffering from suspected hyperventilation, and a 33-year-old passenger was arrested, The Guardian reported.

Park Dae-chul, chief policymaker of the ruling People Power Party, said last month that the government had approved a new seating scheme to go into effect July 31, per The Korea Times.

The newspaper reports that uniformed personnel including police officers, soldiers, firefighters, and airline employees, will have priority for seats in the emergency exit row.

Park told reporters it would apply to 94 seats in 38 aircraft operated by Asiana Airlines, Air Seoul, Air Busan and Aero K Airlines.

The political party started work on the idea shortly after May's incident.

According to Paddle Your Own Kanoo, the Asiana Airlines flight attendant who was then closest to the emergency exit was sat on the opposite side of the aircraft so couldn't prevent the suspect from lifting the handle.

Other airlines have faced similar incidents this year too. A Delta passenger was arrested after opening the emergency exit and escaping down the slide, minutes before takeoff Los Angeles International Airport.

And in July, a man described by fellow passengers as "extremely drunk" forced a Jet2 flight to make an emergency landing in Bulgaria after trying — but failing — to open the exit.

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