SEOUL, KOREA — Passenger's Mid-Flight Exit Attempt Spurs Change in Asiana Airlines Seat Sales

Asiana Airlines of South Korea has ceased the sale of select emergency exit row seats in response to an incident where a passenger inadvertently opened an emergency exit door in mid-flight, leading to chaos among passengers.

The event occurred on an A321-200 aircraft carrying nearly 200 passengers, as it was preparing to land at Daegu International Airport, situated approximately 150 miles southeast of Seoul. The plane completed a safe landing, but several passengers were admitted to the hospital. There were no severe injuries or damage reported.

On Sunday, the airline confirmed to AFP news agency that it would halt sales of seats 31A and 26A in its 14 A321-200 aircraft. This safety measure will be enacted even when flights are fully booked, the airline added.

The efficacy of this measure in preventing passengers situated elsewhere on the plane from attempting to open the emergency door remains uncertain.

The individual at the center of the incident, a man in his 30s, was apprehended by Daegu authorities on charges of violation of aviation security laws. If found guilty, he may face up to a decade in prison.

He informed the Daegu police that he had been dealing with significant stress due to recent unemployment, leading him to open the door in a bid to expedite his exit from the aircraft, feeling claustrophobic, according to a report by South Korea's Yonhap news agency on Saturday.

A detective from Daegu police was quoted saying, "The man felt the flight was more prolonged than expected and felt suffocated in the cabin."

A video clip, believed to have been taken by a fellow passenger and shared on social media, depicted passengers' hair being tossed about by the wind that surged into the cabin upon the opening of the emergency door.

How the passenger, named Lee, managed to open the emergency exit door during the flight remains undetermined.

Former Korean Air cabin safety official, Jin Seong-hyun, noted that to his knowledge, this occurrence was without precedent, despite instances where passengers have unauthorizedly opened emergency exits while the aircraft were on the ground.

A representative from South Korea's transport ministry commented that opening emergency exits at or near ground level is feasible given that the interior and exterior cabin pressures align closely.