KEY POINTS

  • The incident happened on Flight 2478 from San Diego while the aircraft landed in Chicago 
  • The unidentified passenger was arrested and charges against him are pending
  • All the passengers were deplaned safely at the gate

A United Airlines passenger was arrested after he opened the emergency door of a moving plane and slid down the wing as the aircraft landed at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Thursday, officials said.

The unidentified male passenger on a red-eye Flight 2478 from San Diego exited the plane while it was taxiing to the gate at about 5 a.m. Thursday. The man who slid down the wing to the airfield was stopped outside by the ground crew staff. The officers arrived at the scene and the man was taken into custody, as reported by NBC News.

 "A male subject was onboard a plane that was approaching the gate when he pulled the emergency exit and walked out onto the wing of the plane. The subject then slid down the wing and onto the airfield. CPD arrived and placed him into custody," Chicago police spokesperson Kellie Bartoli said.

United Airlines said in a statement released Thursday that all the passengers were deplaned safely after the plane arrived at the gate."The safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority," the statement read. However, no further details regarding the identity of the man were revealed as charges against him are pending.

Meanwhile, Maryellen Eagelston, a passenger on the aircraft who witnessed the scene, said the man was not seated near the emergency exit and crawled over people to get to the door on the other side. "He crawled over one person and then three people on the other side and went out that door," Eagleston said, as reported by the New York Post.

"I think everybody on the plane was just surprised and kind of shocked as he was going out. I heard everybody yelling, ‘No, no, no’ and he just went out the exit door and onto the wing. … Even the stewardesses came back and said, ‘What just happened?" she added.

According to a recent report by the Federal Aviation Administration, the rate of unruly passenger incidents dropped to its lowest level since late 2020 after the end of the government transportation mask mandate on April 18. In the week after the end of the mask mandate, there were only 1.9 incidents reported per 10,000 flights, compared to 4.4 reported incidents in the previous week.