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A United Airlines passenger was arrested Sunday night at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) after deploying and sliding down the aircraft’s inflatable emergency chute during boarding.

United Flight 1640 to Tampa International Airport (TPA) was parked at the gate at EWR when a passenger opened the emergency exit door and evacuated the plane using the slide. The flight, originally scheduled to depart EWR at 7:00pm, took off at 12:09am, about five hours behind schedule.

When law enforcement arrived at the scene, the passenger seemed panicked, shouting that he didn’t belong on the plane because it was the wrong flight, Port Authority officers told NBC 4 New York. Officials said despite his claims, the passenger was ticketed to be on the flight to Tampa. According to CBS, the passenger was immediately detained by airline staff and the Port Authority police, before being arrested.


A United spokeswoman tells TPG that the EWR flight was originally delayed due to a late inbound aircraft. After the slide was inflated, passengers had to switch to a new aircraft, causing further delays. According to FlightAware, the flight landed in Tampa just before 3:00am Monday.

When an aircraft’s inflatable emergency slide is deployed, it can be extremely costly to replace. In 2010, a similar situation occurred when disgruntled JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater deployed the inflatable slide onboard a flight that landed at JFK International Airport. After a dispute with a passenger, Slater grabbed several beers, popped open the plane’s emergency chute and slid out of the aircraft. According to Forbes, it cost as much as $25,000 to replace the emergency slide after the dramatic exit.

Slater also had to pay a $2,500 jail bond after being arrested for reckless endangerment following the incident, NBC 4 New York reported in 2010.

In 2014, the International Air Transportation Association estimated that inadvertent slide deployment costs the airline industry more than $20 million each year.

H/T: Business Insider 

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