A passenger aboard a GoAir flight from New Delhi to Jayaprakash Narayan International airport in Patna on Saturday apparently mistook the rear exit door of the plane for the toilet door during the trip, sparking widespread panic among other passengers on board the aircraft.
According to a report by eNCA, the as yet unnamed man, in his late 20s, was a first-time flier. There were 150 passengers on board the plane.
“A co-passenger raised the alarm and he was intercepted by the crew,” GoAir said in a statement emailed to AFP on Tuesday.
Fellow passengers had asked him what he was doing when they realized which door he was desperately tugging at, and he informed them he urgently needed to use the bathroom, per a staff member in the airport.
“Pandemonium prevailed amid all this and he was restrained and finally handed over to us. He said that the confusion happened because he had boarded a flight for the first time in his life,” Mohammad Sanowar Khan told the newspaper.
According to the airline, the man was handed over to authorities once the aircraft had safely landed at its destination. Further investigation into the incident was conducted after he was taken into custody.
“I mistook the word lavatory written near the exit gate as the door of the toilet and hence tried to open it. I had no other intention as such,” the man told the police, per League of India.
A spokesperson for the airline has come out to say that the passenger “wouldn’t have succeeded in opening the door anyway due to air pressure in the cabin.”
While the man has not been publicly named, he has been identified as a resident of Kankarbagh.
“He works with a private bank in Ajmer in Rajasthan and had boarded the GoAir Delhi-Patna flight on Saturday evening. The incident took place sometime between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. He was a first-time flier and whatever happened was a result of confusion,” airport police station house officer (SHO) Mohammad Sanowar Khan said following the investigation, which is now closed.
The incident came just days after another plane in Indian air was forced to turn back to Mumbai after a “cockpit mix-up” left “30 passengers on a Jet Airways plane bleeding from their ears and noses after the crew reportedly forgot to flick a switch regulating cabin air pressure.” The flight was carrying 166 passengers on board at the time. Flight crew were suspended immediately upon landing pending an investigation.