Delta passenger allegedly opens airplane door, uses emergency slide before takeoff at LAX

A man is standing between police cars with another man behind, holding him by his shoulders.
A man was detained at Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday after he allegedly opened the emergency exit door of a Delta airplane as it taxied toward the runway.
(Gillian Sheldon)

A Delta Air Lines passenger was detained at Los Angeles International Airport after he allegedly opened an emergency exit door and went down the emergency slide as the airplane prepared to take off for Seattle on Saturday morning, authorities said.

The incident happened after 10 a.m. when flight attendants had made their safety presentation to passengers and the plane pushed off from the gate, said Karla Rodriguez, a captain with the Los Angeles Airport Police.

“There was no time for anybody to react,” said Gillian Sheldon, who was on Delta Flight 1714. “It happened so incredibly quickly.”


Sheldon was sitting in first class and doing some last-minute tasks on her phone before the plane’s scheduled takeoff when she said she suddenly heard a man behind her say, “What do I do now?” She said she noticed the man was standing in the aisle as the plane taxied toward the runway.

Francisco Severo Torres, 33, of Massachusetts was arrested Sunday at Boston Logan International Airport after assaulting a crew member and trying to open the airplane’s door during the flight, authorities say.

March 6, 2023

A flight attendant told the man to return to his seat, but the man ignored her and quickly grabbed the emergency exit door, Sheldon said.

“You cannot open the door!” Sheldon said the flight attendant yelled at the man.

The man opened the door and deployed the inflatable emergency slide, then jumped on it, Sheldon said. From her window, she said, she saw the man walk over to a baggage cart and sit down.

“What was so bizarre is it was so quick,” said Sheldon, adding that it took about a second for him to open the door and slide off the plane. “I think some people didn’t see it happen.”

The air you breathe on flights comes directly from the jet engines. Citing a Times investigation, new federal legislation would require passenger planes to be equipped with sensors to detect toxic fumes.

March 10, 2023

As the man sat on the cart, Sheldon said she thought about calling 911 but then saw Los Angeles Airport Police officers take him into custody.

Minutes later, the plane headed back to the gate and passengers were asked to exit until they could be placed on a later flight, Sheldon said.


L.A. Airport Police is investigating the incident and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified, Rodriguez said. The man, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation, Rodriguez added.