The tension caused by air travel delays got the better of a passenger on a Ryanair flight to Malaga from London Stansted, who left the aircraft using the emergency exit over the wing after landing at the Costa del Sol airport on Monday night.
The 57-year-old Polish national told Guardia Civil officers that the wait to disembark was too stressful and so he made for the emergency door. The dash for freedom could cost him dearly though. According to the Spanish Air Safety law cited by the officers, the man could face a fine of up to 45,000 euros for “interfering with the aircraft's equipment”.
The man's escape was captured on film by another passenger, Fernando del Valle, whose images went viral on Facebook and were picked up by national and international media.
According to Del Valle the flight had left Stansted an hour and a half later than scheduled, and the passengers had been waiting for half an hour after landing to disembark.
In the video the surprised comments from the rest of the passengers, queuing patiently to leave the plane through the front door, can be heard as the man follows the arrows shown along the wing as guides in case of real emergencies.
Ground staff prevented the passenger from jumping off the wing, however, and he was taken back inside the aircraft. There he was questioned by the captain first, and then the Guardia Civil.
“We received a call from Ryanair at 12.15am, then 2 January, and they informed us of the incident,” explained the Guardia Civil captain Miguel Sánchez, who is responsible for the Malaga Airport Company of the armed force.
“After speaking to the captain of the aircraft, who confirmed the events, we identified the passenger. He told us that he did it because he was stressed by the delay of his flight, so he opened the door and avoided the usual exit,” said the captain who added that the passenger didn't appear to be under the influence of alcohol. “He was sitting quietly in the cabin,” he said.
Once inside the terminal the officers reported him for a violation of air safety laws. He was not placed under arrest, however, as the incident did not put anyone else at risk.
When asked for his details the Polish man gave the address of a shelter in the city. Sources from the shelter told SUR that he has not been there for some time, but that he has been a user of the city's social services on several occasions. It appears, according to one volunteer, that he had left the problems that made him homeless in the past behind him and that he had even started taking part in some of the cultural activities organised to integrate people on limited resources, including a choir.
“We knew he was going away for Christmas,” said the volunteer.