* Article updated 06/12/2021 08:43 UTC with a statement from Southwest Airlines *
Yesterday morning, a Southwest Airlines passenger disembarked their flight early when they chose to exit the aircraft during its taxi. The plane had just arrived from Colorado Springs at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where the escaped passenger fled to an on-site fire station. Their antics didn’t cause any delays to Phoenix’s airport operations
The flight in question
Southwest Airlines flight WN4236 is a service that originates at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS). Southwest is the airport’s largest carrier, serving various domestic destinations on both a seasonal and year-round basis. One of these is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), to which it flies from Colorado Springs as flight WN4236.
Interestingly, data from RadarBox.com shows that, in recent months, Southwest has also used this number for Houston-Jackson and Milwaukee-Orlando services. However, on November 13th and December 4th this year, it has designated an early morning Colorado Springs-Phoenix flight. It has a scheduled departure time of 06:30 from Colorado Springs.
Its arrival in Phoenix is planned to take place one hour and 55 minutes later, at 08:25 local time. However, the flight typically makes good time. On November 13th, it arrived at 07:59, and it also touched down ahead of schedule yesterday, at 08:02. However, after arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor, the flight’s taxi to its gate took an alarming and unusual turn.
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A premature escape
Having touched down on Phoenix’s northern runway, designated at 08/26, the flight began its taxi to the gate as planned. However, one passenger onboard the aircraft, a 16-year-old Boeing 737-700 registered as N226WN, seemed particularly keen to disembark. However, they did so rather unconventionally, through one of the plane’s rear galley doors.
Indeed, according to Fox 10 Phoenix, a 30-year-old man took elected to jump out of the aircraft while it made its way across the apron. This prompted the aircraft to come to a stop, with its pilots alerting air traffic control to the unfolding situation. This communication was the subject of praise from Todd Keller from the Phoenix Fire Department, who stated:
“They were in constant communication as soon as this person was on the runway. Sky Harbor control tower had eyes on him the entire time and that’s how they notified us. It just shows you how much of a well-oiled machine they are out there.”
Taken to hospital
The motive for the man’s escape, which reportedly took place at around 08:05 local time, remains unknown. However, Phoenix Police has been able to identify him as Daniel Ramirez. The force is investigating him on suspicion of felony trespassing (two counts). Following his escape, Ramirez is said to have locked himself in an on-site fire station. Keller explains:
“After a few minutes firefighters were able to get the adult male to unlock the door where he was then evaluated, treated and transported to a local hospital for a lower extremity injury.”
The extent of the injury in question remains unclear. In the meantime, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines confirmed to Simple Flying that:
“Flight 4236 safely arrived in Phoenix from Colorado Springs Saturday morning when initial reports indicate, that while the flight was taxiing to the gate, a Customer onboard exited the aircraft via a rear galley door. The flight’s Captain stopped the aircraft and notified Air Traffic Control (ATC). Local authorities responded to the situation and shortly after the flight continued to its designated gate with all remaining Customers and Crew.”
What do you make of this incident? Have you ever encountered a similar occurrence on your travels? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.