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Southwest MAX Diverts After Passenger Bites Fellow Traveler

Southwest MAX Diverts After Passenger Bites Fellow Traveler


On Saturday, November 26, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 en route from Houston to Columbus was forced to divert to Little Rock (LIT) after a passenger began to act erratically. 


Photo: Edwin Sims | AeroXplorer


A Normal Flight Turns Sour 


Southwest Airlines flight WN192 is a flight scheduled between Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) in Texas and John Glenn Columbus International (CMH) in Ohio. Among the passengers aboard flight 192 was a 34-year-old woman traveling alone, who left home without telling her husband and without any luggage. 


According to newly released court documents and witness testimony, the woman felt she could not breathe shortly after takeoff and got up from her seat. She then proceeded to walk towards the middle of the 737 MAX where the emergency over-wing exits are located. This is where the situation began to rapidly deteriorate.


Photo: Makaela Arellano | AeroXplorer




Tackling and Biting 


When the 34-year-old woman reached the back of the aircraft, specifically the window by the jump seat, she proceeded to "stare" at the emergency exit door. A flight attendant then walked up to the woman and told her to use the restroom if she needed to or sit down. In response to this, the woman in a state of stupor, asked if she could look out of the jump seat window. When the flight attendants declined her request, she forcefully barged past them blocking the flight attendants, and began to pull on the door handle in a failed attempt to open it.


Photo: Josh Holsenbeck | AeroXplorer


IMPORTANT NOTE: All of this commotion occurred at an altitude of 37,000 feet. Had the woman succeeded at opening the door, a phenomenon known as an explosive decompression would have occurred. This is because the cabins on most aircraft that fly above 15,000 feet are pressurized to allow the passengers and crew to breathe at such high altitudes with low partial pressures of oxygen. While the pressure inside of the aircraft is at 14.7 psi, the pressure outside the aircraft is around 3.3 psi. The resulting difference in pressure, combined with the Boeing 737 MAX 8's cruising speed of 537 knots (~ 617 mph), would cause everything to be sucked out of the aircraft with such force and speed that all of the passengers and crew would likely perish instantly. 


When a passenger overheard someone say "she's trying to open the door", they got up and went to the back of the aircraft to help detain her. The passenger was able to tackle the woman to the ground but was bit by the severely frenzied passenger on the thigh. Rather than letting go of her bite once she was tackled, the woman sustained her bite on the thigh until her jaw was pressured open.


Photo: Jason Cassady | AeroXplorer


At this point, the pilots were notified and the Southwest flight began its diversion to Little Rock in Arkansas. 


After the incident, passengers onboard recall the woman banging her head against the cabin floor and stating "...Jesus told her to fly to Ohio and Jesus told her to open the plane door..." 


After safely diverting to Little Rock, she was apprehended and taken into the custody of police officers. Before heading to interrogation, the police took her to a local hospital to get hepatitis shots and antibiotics.


Photo: Peter Cuthbert | AeroXplorer




When asked about her motives behind the incident, the 34-year-old woman identified herself as Elom Agbegninou and told authorities that she was planning on going to Maryland to stay with one of her family friends who was a pastor at a church. She couldn't remember at what time she had flown last, and only remembers attempting to open the aircraft's door and biting a fellow passenger. Agbegninou also claims that she had PTSD and anxiety since the incident's occurrence on Saturday. She also claims that if she didn't have severe anxiety on the flight, she'd never commit the crime and that she doesn't act like this normally.




The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas has not released the woman's true name for privacy reasons, but states that she will be prosecuted for "...assault within maritime and territorial jurisdiction and interference with flight crew members and attendants...".

Adam Schupak
Adam Schupak is a member of the AeroXplorer staff team, writing articles and contributing to their podcast - Aerospace by AeroXplorer. Adam is interested in anything public transport related and is currently training to become a glider pilot.

Comments (1)

Kim When will this end? Is everyone who disrupts flights getting put on the do not fly list?
179d ago • Reply

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