A British Airways flight from Heathrow, London to King Khalid Airport, Riyadh was disrupted mid-flight. An anxiety-stricken man tried to open the emergency exit door causing widespread panic. Before he could try to open the door, he was stopped by Dean Whyte, the brother of boxer Dillian Whyte. Dean, other passengers, and some cabin crew members were able to calm the man down eventually.
The British Airways flight BA 263 was nearly an hour away from landing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when the incident occurred. Passengers reported that a man suddenly started acted agitated before he made his way to the emergency exit door with the intent to open it.
Some passengers tried to intervene but were unable to stop the man. 6ft 7in Dean heard the commotion and rushed to the man in an effort to take him down.
Dean told the Guardian that he had intended to slam the guy if necessary. However, when he reached the man, he saw that the man was evidently under mental stress. He decided to help and calm the man down instead of incapacitating him.
Dean proceeded to give the man a bearhug while talking him down. Cabin crew members were ready with a pair of handcuffs. Dean claimed that the man in "broken English" kept repeating that he wanted to get out of the plane. Cabin crew and Dean kept talking to the man until he calmed down. The man had a panic attack and was acting out due to it.
The flight crew did not have to handcuff the man. He slowly calmed down and went back to his seat. The crew continued to give him support until the flight landed safely. The Independent pointed out that airplane doors cannot be opened mid-flight. Cabin pressure and safety mechanisms do not allow the doors to be opened when the plane is in the air. Even though it is not possible for the door to be opened during the flight, the incident did cause widespread panic since most people are unaware of the safety mechanism.
British Airways staff and passengers thanked Dean for the intervention. Dean was on his way to attend his brother Dillan's match in Riyadh.