South Korea Mandates Airlines to Emphasise Prohibition on Opening Plane Doors Mid-Flight

South Korea Mandates Airlines to Emphasise Prohibition on Opening Plane Doors Mid-Flight

South Korea is revising its guidelines for airlines in response to a series of troubling in-flight occurrences involving passengers attempting to open plane doors.

The updated regulations necessitate airlines to issue explicit warnings regarding the prohibition of opening aircraft doors during a flight. This additional directive supplements the existing safety announcements made by flight crews, cautioning passengers against smoking, guiding them on the appropriate use of electronic devices, and emphasising the importance of not interfering with cabin crew operations.

Demonstrating the gravity of the situation, the revised safety announcement wording becomes mandatory even during the ongoing public review period. The rule is scheduled to be confirmed on December 14.

Severe Repercussions

The legal framework addressing aviation security already encompasses the criminal offence of interfering with “plane entrances, emergency exits, or devices that impede the safety or functioning of an aircraft.” Offenders may face imprisonment of up to ten years for such actions.

A recent incident involved a man in his thirties who managed to open an Asiana Airlines plane door before landing in Daegu in May 2023, resulting in harm to twelve individuals who experienced hyperventilation or ear injuries due to his actions. 

In response, Asiana Airlines promptly ceased the sale of “emergency row” seats situated near the plane doors following the incident. This marks a notable departure from the past, where carriers typically relied on physically fit passengers seated in emergency rows to assist in opening exits if required.

Despite the existence of pertinent aviation laws, they have not proven entirely effective in deterring further attempts. Instances include a passenger opening the exits of a plane travelling from New York to Incheon, along with similar events on flights originating from Brazil and Russia.

The surge in these incidents has prompted a reassessment of pre-flight warnings. 

It remains to be seen whether other countries will adopt similar measures or if airlines will independently implement their precautionary advisories. 

Additionally, it is yet unclear whether the new South Korean approach applies exclusively to the country's airlines or extends to all carriers operating within its airspace.

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