Drunk Lankan cricketer sparks mid-air panic

Sri Lanka Cricket issuing a statement said Sri Lanka A Team cricketer Ramith Rambukwella had mistakenly tried to open one of the cabin doors of the British Airways aircraft, thinking it was the door to the rest room.

Following is their full statement:

"Further to the earlier media release on the above subject, Team Manager Jayantha Seneviratne submitted a report to the CEO on the above incident.

According to the report, the Team has boarded the flight BA 2158 from Grenada around 5 pm on the 30th of June 2013 to London. The incident took place around midnight during the flight.

The player concerned namely Ramith Rambukwella had tried to use the toilet.  Due to the dim lights in the cabin the player has mistakenly tried to open one of the cabin doors thinking it was the toilet door.

At that moment certain passengers had brought to his notice that he is trying to access the incorrect door.

At this point the officials of the Sri Lankan team too walked up to the player and directed him the right way.

The player apologised profusely to the passengers and to the cabin staff who accepted it in good faith.

An inquiry will be conducted based on the Managers Report and disciplinary action will be taken on the player concerned if found fault."

A drunken cricketer of the Sri Lanka A team caused panic on a packed British Airways passenger flight when he tried to open the cabin door at 35,000 feet, according to the Sri Lankan newspaper ‘Daily Mirror’.

In his stupor, he tugged away for up to two minutes at the exterior door before telling BA cabin crew on board the Boeing 777 that he had mistaken it for the toilet.

The incident alarmed eye witnesses among the 229 passengers on board flight BA 2158 as the Sri Lankan cricket team flew back high over the Atlantic ocean from St Lucia to London Gatwick.

"It was pretty frightening. I’m a nervous flyer anyway but things had been fine until then. I was awake. My daughter had been crying. So I saw everything," a recruitment consultant who is on maternity leave told the British newspaper ‘Daily Mail’.

She said the man wrestling with the door was among a group of cricket players wearing the blue Sri Lankan polo-shirt team uniform with their country’s name in yellow lettering.

She heard the man tell cabin crew that he had been looking for the toilet - an account confirmed by BA.

"It was very scary. He looked very dazed or drunk. He was very tall and wearing black and red headphones.

"Some of his team mates were shouting and telling him to stop. I was just a few feet away. My mum was really upset. Thank goodness he was stopped. Somebody said they had been drinking for four hours before they got on the plane,” she said.

BA said: "During the flight a man got up and tried to go to the toilet. But instead of going to the toilet he tried to open the aircraft door in mid-flight.

"The event was linked to ‘an element of alcohol’. He explained his mistake and cabin crew accepted it in good faith. Cabin crew reassured customers who witnessed the incident," the airline said.

BA stressed that it is impossible to open the pressurised door in mid-flight and that at no point the safety of passengers was compromised.

Security were informed on the ground but police were not called or involved.

After leaving the BA flight at Gatwick, the player and his team mates boarded another plane of another airline taking them on to Sri Lanka.

Officials confirmed eyewitness accounts that the man at the centre of the incident was a Sri Lankan cricketer but declined to name him.

A British Airways spokesman said: "There was a minor incident onboard the BA2158 service from St Lucia to Gatwick involving a customer who we believe had been drinking."

"Our cabin crew are trained to deal with such incidents and re-assured to customers who were sitting near to the door," he said.


Print Email