It’s not every day you see a plane emergencyslide in use. It’s even less likely you’ll see two passengers use it to slide out of a plane with their dog before the flight takes off.
But on Monday, that happened at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York.
“During flight 462’s taxi-out at LaGuardia on Dec. 21, a party of two (people) opened a cabin door and exited the aircraft via the slide,” Morgan Durrant, spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, told USA TODAY.
The passengers, Antonio Murdock, 31, and Brianna Greco, 23, both residents of Florida, also had a service dog with them, Lenis Valens, spokesperson for Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the airport, told USA TODAY.
Passenger Brian Plummer told the New York Times that he had noticed the trio before boarding the plane and said when they did board, they changed seats multiple times. Plummer said that as the plane began to taxi out, the man, who claimed to have post-traumatic stress disorder, ignored a flight attendant’s direction that he must be seated.
“The passengers activated the emergency slide and exited the aircraft onto the ramp,” Maria Njoku, spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration, told USA TODAY, noting the incident happened around 10:40 a.m. “The passengers were subsequently arrested by law enforcement.”
Murdock was arrested on multiple charges, including a felony charge for criminal mischief in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the second degree and criminal trespass in the third degree, Valens said.
Meanwhile, Greco was arrested on a charge of criminal trespass in the third degree.
Following the incident, the aircraft returned to its gate where the other passengers deplaned and were accommodated on other flights, according to Durrant. Afterward, maintenance technicians evaluated the plane and returned it to service Monday night.
“It’s fair to characterize an episode like this as ultra-rare,” Durrant added.
But similar incidents have happened before.
In March, a passenger on Frontier Airlines used the slide to exit when the plane was parked at the gate, the Washington Post reported. And a decade earlier, in 2010, a JetBlue flight attended disembarked via slide after a dispute with a passenger, the New York Times reported. In 2018, another passenger escaped a United flight pre-takeoff using a slide according to NBC 4 New York.