An AirTran flight left Baltimore Monday afternoon, making it’s way to Austin, Texas. During the flight a man, who is being described as an “unruly passenger”, tried to open the emergency exit at the back of the plane.
AirTran Flight 265 was forced to land at Memphis International Airport at around 6:30 p.m. The plane was over Little Rock, Arkansas when the incident occurred, and the pilots chose to land in Memphis because it was the closest AirTran airport. “It’s the kind of thing you hear about and worry about and it was handled completely professionally and calmly,” said Patty Solum, who was a passenger aboard the flight.
The man, who has not been identified, was restrained by off-duty military passengers until the plane completed the emergency landing. None of the 120 passengers or 5 crew members on board were hurt. However, they were all forced to evacuate the plane once it had landed in Memphis.
The passengers were then interviewed by the FBI and were allowed to re-board the plane and continue their flight to Austin at around 8:30 p.m. One passenger said that the man seemed to be suicidal and was claiming that he no longer wanted to live.
“Everyone was really calm and in good spirits and understanding,” said Tara Hamilton, who was on the flight along with her son. “Luckily there were military personnel on the plane and they were really accommodating. It could have been way worse but it wasn’t that bad.”
The Memphis International Airport Vice President of Operations, John Geraud, said that, at the time of his arrest, the man did not appear to be intoxicated, suicidal, or unruly.
The FBI and the TSA detained the man and questioned him for two hours about his actions. It has not yet been determined whether or not charges will be filed against him.