PIA Flight Delayed: Woman Opened Emergency Exit Instead Of Toilet Door

PIA Flight Delayed: Woman Opened Emergency Exit Instead Of Toilet Door
Faisal Akram from Dhaka, Bangladesh [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

PIA Flight PK702 Delayed

Pakistan International Airlines, or PIA, flight PK702 was sitting on the tarmac on Friday at Manchester in the UK. According to Independent the flight was ready for an on time departure to Islamabad, when an unwitting passenger managed to cause an 8 hour delay. The female passenger chose not to heed the signs warning that seatbelts should be fastened. Instead, she decided a trip to the loo was in order. So, she stepped out of her seat and headed down the aisle. However, the toilet door she chose to open turned out not to be the toilet door at all. Instead she opened an armed emergency exit.

Toilet Door or Emergency Exit?

When the PIA passenger opened what she believed to be the toilet door, she was no doubt surprised to see the outside world greet her as a safety slide inflated automatically below her feet. Once the emergency exit is armed, the slide will automatically deploy if it is opened, making it easier for passengers to safely get to the ground. While flight crews are normally seated at the emergency exits during takeoff and landing it is still unclear why attendants weren’t able to prevent the passenger from accessing the emergency exit.

Other Passengers Inconvenienced

Once an emergency exit slide is deployed in error, the airline has the option to continue with the flight and replace the slide at the aircraft’s home base. However, due to regulations, the number of passengers that can be accommodated by working safety slides cannot be exceeded. PIA opted to make repairs at its home airport, but 38 passengers from flight PK702 had to volunteer to take later flights. The simple mistake of not following instructions and mistaking an emergency exit for a toilet door cost everyone on that aircraft valuable time. The plane was finally able to leave at 5:00 AM on Saturday morning to make the flight to Islamabad. In the course of the incident several other departures were also delayed by the actions of a single passenger.

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PIA responded to the incident, explaining that passengers were being cared for and apologizing for the whole ordeal.  “All passengers were provided dinner. The offloaded passengers were provided with transportation and hotel accommodation and will be adjusted on the next available flight. PIA regrets the inconvenience caused to its passengers due to this incident.”  While this statement may have soothed the press at the moment, many of the passengers were not so happy. One passenger tweeted under the name Sleeping Beauty, “Pathetic service from PIA. I am one of the 38 passengers who voluntarily offloaded from PK702 so it can fly to Islamabad only on the condition that all 38 of us will get our luggage. First you did not give it to us in Manchester. Then when we reached here today we were told half of our luggage is still at Manchester airport. A lot of us don’t even have clothes to wear here.” The mistake of opening an emergency exit instead of the toilet door has definitely caused a stink in some peoples’ lives. The airline later released a statement urging passengers to follow security guidelines aboard their aircraft, as it will help prevent situations like this from happening.

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