- A Portland man accused of trying to open a Delta emergency door mid-flight has been charged.
- Authorities say Michael Brandon Demarre told police he did it so other passengers would record him.
- Demarre reportedly wanted to be recorded sharing his views on the COVID-19 vaccines.
Authorities say a Portland man who tried to open the emergency door on a Delta Airlines flight last week did so because he wanted to be recorded sharing his thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccines.
Michael Brandon Demarre, 32, has been charged with threatening to interfere and interfering with a flight crew and attendants, according to a Monday press release from the US Attorneys Office in the District of Oregon.
During a February 11 Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Portland, Demarre attempted to open the plane’s emergency exit door mid-flight, according to a criminal complaint reviewed by Insider. Witnesses told authorities that Demarre removed the plastic covering on the emergency exit handle and “pulled on the handle with his full body weight,” according to the affidavit.
A flight attendant ordered Demarre to stop, which he did, court documents say. Members of the flight crew then directed Demarre toward the back of the plane where he was physically restrained. Flight attendants asked four other passengers to watch Demarre and keep him from returning to the emergency exits.
“The response to Demarre’s actions interrupted the regular performance of the flight attendants’ duties and he required attention until the flight landed in Portland,” the affidavit said.
According to authorities, there was no indication that Demarre was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time.
Once the plane landed, Portland police detained Demarre. He told authorities that he had messed with the emergency exit door handle so other passengers on the plane would record him, thus giving him the chance to share his views on the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the affidavit.
Demarre appeared in court on Monday and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings, the US Attorney’s Office said. An attorney for Demarre did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
A spokesperson for Delta told Insider that the airline has “zero tolerance for unruly customers” and will continue to “take action to reinforce the safety of our people and customers.”
The Friday incident came one week after Delta CEO Ed Bastian asked the federal government to place convicted unruly passengers on a national no-fly list following months of increased onboard disruptions. Earlier this month, two unruly passengers were removed from an Atlanta-bound Delta flight after becoming aggressive toward flight attendants.
Delta has already put 1,900 people on its own no-fly list for flouting face-covering requirements. The airline has also requested that the Transportation Security Administration seek civil penalties from hundreds of people banned from the airline.