For no apparent reason, a flight attendant on a United Airlines flight deployed the emergency slide and exited the plane at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on Monday morning.
Reportedly, the Boeing 737 had flown in from Sacramento, landed at the airport at 11:36 a.m., and then taxied for five minutes before coming to a full stop at the gate. There were 159 passengers on board the flight plus six crew members, including the flight attendant in question.
The United Airlines flight attendant appeared to be in a hurry to get out of the plane, as she first threw her bag to the ground 15 feet below, pulled the emergency slide, hopped on, slid down, then calmly walked away from the aircraft.
Passengers at the airport stared in disbelief as the flight attendant exited the plane in such an unprecedented way, with one traveler, Sharon Lovedahl, heard to say, “Why would she do that?”
I got video of the flight attendant sliding down the emergency slide at Bush airport. We’ll have a story at 10. pic.twitter.com/3MHq35L7Y9
— Jace Larson, KPRC (@jacelarson) April 5, 2016
Jonah Vella, one of the passengers on the plane, told Click 2 Houston, “When we landed, we were told to stay in our seats as de-planing would take a bit longer.”
According to Vella, all was OK, saying, “Everything seemed to be pretty standard.”
However, according to Click 2 Houston, there was reportedly an ongoing medical emergency happening at the back of the United Airlines plane at the same time, which distracted the attention of the passengers from what was happening with the flight attendant.
Reportedly, a male passenger was having trouble breathing at the back of the aircraft and had to be escorted off the plane in a wheelchair. It is unknown whether this delay led to the flight attendant’s actions.
— KPRC 2 Houston (@KPRC2) April 4, 2016
After the flight attendant’s speedy exit from the plane, the aircraft was taken out of service for around 40 minutes for inspection and then continued on to Fort Lauderdale.
According to United Airlines, while the flight attendant’s motive for deploying the emergency slide was not immediately clear, they do believe she did this intentionally.
The airline said in a statement, “We hold all of our employees to the highest standard.”
“The unsafe behavior is unacceptable and does not represent the more than 20,000 flight attendants who ensure the safety of our customers.”
Following the incident, the flight attendant involved was reportedly removed from her flying duties, and she won’t be taking any more rides on emergency slides in the near future.
Mashable reports that authorities at Bush International Airport confirmed to their reporter that the incident did not affect airport operations in any way.
United Airlines has been in the media for other reasons lately. As reported by The Inquisitr, a Muslim family was kicked off one of their flights due to a “safety issue.” According to the family, they were kicked off the flight because they are Muslim, and they are demanding an apology from the airline.
— Iran News Now (@IranNewsNow) April 4, 2016
The mother of the family was wearing a hijab, or traditional headscarf, at the time and recorded the incident on her cell phone, and she could be heard asking if this was a “discriminatory decision.”
On a happier note, United Airlines has made traveling for families on their airlines a little easier by introducing early boarding for families. As part of a larger effort to be more attentive to passengers’ needs, families with children aged two or younger will get preference when boarding their flights.