back to article Playboy centrefold freaks out at 10,000 feet

A Playboy centrefold took fellow plane passengers' breath away last week when she apparently tried to open the door on a plane flight from Florida to New York. Tiffany Livingston, 21 and 5' 6", reportedly bolted from her seat and grabbed the cabin door in an apparent attempt to open the cabin door on the Jet Blue flight. The …


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  1. Ian Yates
    Paris Hilton


    She should be thankful she wasn't arrested.

    Can't be bothered to look for it, but only a year or so ago an Australian woman did the same (apparently needing a cigarette) and was charged for it!

    Considering the design of airplane cabin doors makes it impossible to open at altitude, you have to wonder at the logic...

    Paris. Centrefold. 'nuff said.

    1. Keir Snelling


      Does anyone know, can you actually open a door on a plane, mid flight?

      Is there an interlock to prevent such things? If there is, how would the interlock be deactivated in the case of an accident?

      I've often wondered.

      And if it is possible to open the door at 30,000 feet, are there any recorded incidents of someone having done so? What was the outcome?

      1. Matt Newton
        Black Helicopters

        it's not possible @ Ken Snelling 11:30

        It's not possible at altitude. Cabin doors are designed so you need to pull them inwards first, then slide sideways / out. It's not like a car door.

        At high altitudes, the pressure outside the aircraft is much, much lower than inside the craft (where it's approximately "normal" pressure). Trying to pull the door in against that pressure is like trying to pull up a toilet plunger that's been firmly stuck to a surface.

        Except orders of magnitudes harder - a single human (or even a small group) wouldn't be able to open the door - the handle would snap off first.

        That said, I of course would not want to "test" this maths, even if it is theoretically impossible.

        Helicoptor because... no planes.

        1. ravenviz Silver badge

          Re: "normal" pressure

          I understand aeroplanes' cabins are pressured to something like 8000ft above sea level to reduce the effects of work hardening on the fuselage flexing due to an otherwise higher pressure differential. This is also a lower pressure limit to prevent ill effects on human occupants. So in fact up to 8000 ft you could open the door with limited ability higher depending on how strong you were or how many people attempted it.

          1. Charles Manning


            The 8000ft pressurization is the minimum pressurization. They are allowed to pressurise lower and on short hops might pressurize far higher.

            The pressurisation is not applied instantaneously but gradually so that your ears, lungs etc don't experience too much pain. There will always be some pressure differential, except maybe within the first few hundred ft or so.

            How hard is it to rip the door open? Well it depends on the pressure difference. Even a 1000ft differential creates half a psi or so. At 35k ft, with 8k ft pressurisation, there is approx 7psi pressure differential. Since a door is approx 2000 square inches you'd need to pull with approx 7 tons. The handle etc will rip off way before you could force it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            Pressure Diferential..... OK?

            Ummm I shall work in PSI - cause it's easier.... sort of.

            Lets just say that a door is about 36" wide by 80" high - or about 2600 square inches... if the pressure differential is about say 1 PSI - that means you have 2600 pounds or around 1200Kg to pull back on.....

            Now that is going to be ONE hard door to open....

            And without looking it all up - I think there is more than 1 PSI of difference between 8000 foots and 33000 foots of altitude.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Keir Snelling

        There is an interlock to stop you, its called air pressure.

        Doors open inward, but can't do so as its lower air pressure outside. The door gets sucked shut.

        Even in emergencies you only need to open it at ground level as they only give passengers life belts not parachutes.

        1. Penguin herder

          Newton's laws

          "Doors open inward, but can't do so as its lower air pressure outside. The door gets sucked shut."

          That's pushed shut - and thanks for explaining how it works.

      3. Penguin herder
        Paris Hilton


        "And if it is possible to open the door at 30,000 feet, are there any recorded incidents of someone having done so? What was the outcome?"

        Unless someone managed to set down on top of Everest, a 30k ft lockout would not be problem once it made sense to exit the plane. It is an interesting question though, if only on the grounds that if the lockout exists, it could fail to release when it should.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon


          @Penguin Herder

          "Unless someone managed to set down on top of Everest"

          I think one could reasonably assume that this process would rupture the fuselage in at least one place to equalise the pressure :)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Plug Doors ...

        Airline doors. Marvellous engineering. Effectively, the higher the altitude, the more difficult is is to open the door. In fact at 33,000 feet it is impossible as the pressure inside the cabin is much greater than that outside. The door is held in place both by mechanical interlocks AND suction. This is of course a design feature.

        Even if the mechanical interlocks failed, the door would still not fly open and explosively suck everyone out.


        Although on some small planes, of a certain antiquity, this isn't the case, natch.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Not just small planes

          DC-10s and 747s both used outward opening cargo doors which were linked to a number of disasters when they blew open at altitude. The worst was a Turkish Airlines that crashed just outside Paris in 1974. The door had not been correctly closed, it blew open, collapsing the floor over the cargo bay and wrecking the control lines. More than 300 people died.

          The second was a United 747 in 1991 whose cargo door blew open over the Pacific. Incredibly the crew got the plane back to Honolulu, but some people did die when part of the deck collapsed in the blow out. In this case, the accident was down to inferior locking bolts, IIRC, Boeing only conceded liability when families of the deceased paid for their own investigation.

          1. Nigel 11
            Thumb Down

            DC10s, yuk.

            I was about to mention the DC10, whose "engineers" disregarded fail-safe engineering principles with the surely inevitable consequences of having faulty doors blow open at altitude with catastrophic consequences. I made a point of asking what sort of jet my long-haul flight would be before booking, and if it was a DC10, telling the airline that was why I'd be flying with someone else.

            Didn't know that Boeing had ever embraced that same stupidity.

            The other reasons for never flying on a DC10 were being stuck in the middle of 2-5-2 seating arrangements (*why* not 3-3-3? ), and having ridiculously thin overhead luggage compartments that a standard-sized cabin bag would not fit into. Horrible, horrible airliner.

      5. rich 21

        Common Ignorance

        Rather like trying to commit suicide by slitting your wrists horizontally it is a common misconception that it is actually possible to open the cabin door whilst the plane is airbourne. The door is designed for this.

        The physical process of opening the door requires it to be pulled inwards - The air pressure inside the cabin is high in comparison to the external wind rushing past at 600mph - and then pushed forwards into the flow air, before even the pressure seal is broken.

        This combination actually makes it totally impossible for anyone to try to make a silk-less leap of faith at 30,000 feet.

        I am still confused when I hear of people trying to open cabin door inflight, even more confusd when they get arrested afterwards. How can you be arrested for attempting to do the impossible?

      6. Bleepme


        Great article, so many innuendos in one piece!

        Yes you CAN open the door in theory, but the way it normally works is they open INWARDS so the pressure differential is against you (the door is actually held closed by the pressurization of the cabin) so it's extremely unlikely. Anyway, that's one reason to keep your seatbelt fastened when seated...

    2. mccp


      "Livingston was briefly banged up and charges were looking likely, the Post reported."

      1. DavCrav

        @mccp: RTFA

        were = past tense. They were dropped after she said that she didn't mean to... I'm sure that always works, even when you aren't a Playboy model.

    3. Sir Runcible Spoon


      "you have to wonder at the logic"

      You read the article and how it said she had a *panic* attack right?

      If you've never had one, consider yourself lucky. You stop thinking logically and behave in a very basic fight/flight manner - the fact that the door wouldn't open, or if it did it you would die wouldn't get past first brain cell.

      However, having said that there is a case here for this woman not to be on a flight without some form of medication having *been* taken. i.e. if you don't have your meds - you don't fly kind of thing. The other passengers and crew do have a right not to be suddenly decompressed and shot out of a tiny hole in the side of a large metal cylinder at 30000ft after all.

      1. Ian Yates

        Re: Sir

        I should have reread that post. I meant the logic of the police since there wasn't any danger to the other passengers - though I imagine they were pretty scared.

        I've found the article now; turns out it was a French woman in Australia, so I apologise to the Aussie's for that:

    4. Annihilator


      "She should be thankful she wasn't arrested."

      Presumably she was better looking than the Aussie woman :-)

      "Considering the design of airplane cabin doors makes it impossible to open at altitude, you have to wonder at the logic..."

      I wondered that - we may as well start reporting crazy people who start jumping up and down in an attempt to shake the aeroplane out of the sky..

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bit of a difference

      "Wanting a fag" and "having a panic attack." One is easily controllable, the other not so.

    6. Chris 244


      Atmospheric pressure at 8000ft (approx cabin pressure at altitude): 76.7 kPa or 76700 N/m2

      Atmospheric pressure at 30000ft: 30.7 kPa or 30700 N/m2

      Approx area of cabin door: 2m x 1m, or 2 m2

      Approx force required to open cabin door at altitude: 92000 N

      That is equivalent to trying to lift over 9 tons/tonnes. Don't think it's going to open. In fact, the pressure change going from sea level to just 500 ft altitude would require a force equivalent to lifting 375 kg to open the door.

      I would have used El Reg units but a "register ton" is a unit of volume. Typical.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Cabin doors to manual"

      You hear this and its counterpart "Cabin doors to automatic" on every flight over the tannoy from the flight deck. I've always assumed it was transferring control of any interlocking system to the flight deck, to be released in conjunction with other emergency systems in the appropriate circumstances and to prevent any possibility of release without authority.

      Dumb thing to do, but as someone who has suffered panic attacks on and off for years, I really can sympathise. Actually dying might well be a great deal less scary.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I was told

        by a member of the cabin crew, that the rear and forward doors have explosive bolts in them, that juring take off and landing can be fired from the cockpit. the little side window door on small planes doesn't have this and you will be able to open the door when the cabin pressure is equalized. Flying to india last year there was a little 5 yrld boy playing with one of the doors mid flight.. options.

        1. Smack the little f'ker.

        2. Pull him away from the door and find someone to look after him

        3. return to my seat, fasten the seatbelt and order more whiskey..

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Cabin doors to automatic and cross check

        Close. Automatic on the doors means that they are armed so that the escape slides will be deployed if the door is opened. Setting them to manual when the plane arrives at the airport disarms the slides so the door can be opened without turning the plane into a theme park attraction.

        Cross-check is where each member of the cabin crew checks the work of their partner on the other side of the plane.

        Mine's the one which must not be inflated until after leaving the aircraft.

      3. Neoc

        Re: Cabin door announcement.

        The one I keep hearing down this part of the world (on at least 3 airlines) is "Cabin crew, arm doors and cross-check."

  2. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    "a large stiff one"

    Yes, but whose?

  3. Dan 10

    Not an entirely unbelievable excuse, I think

    Given how I was nearly arrested for standing on the wrong side of the white line while at the front of the queue at the Passport/Immigration desk going into Philadelphia, the idea that someone could be decked for holding the (un-openable) door doesn't surprise me.

    1. George of the Jungle

      Philly Airport

      That is a separate issue. The Philadelphia airport is an avatar of Satan, and many of his minions work there.

      (Escape key for obvious reasons.)

  4. Barrie Shepherd

    Cabin Doors

    I've heard this argument for "banging up" people who try to open cabin doors at altitude and endanger an aircraft.

    I was always under the impression that the doors cannot be opened when there is a pressure difference - they are effectively locked until the plane gets to a low altitude.

    Can anyone confirm?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Banged up?


    Are they deploying Sharks armed with Lasers on Jet Blue flights from now on?

    And was her panic attack due to her realising she is ageing or that her boobs were about to explode?

  6. Goat Jam
    IT Angle

    IT Angle?

    Oh, who the hell cares!

    Panicking Pampered Princess Provokes Police Plus Providing Publicity.

    Now how's that for an alliteration!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    So much noise for nothing

    Airliner doors DO NOT open if you pull the handle in flight. You can yank the handle for all it is worth the door opens inwards and the cabin pressure pushes it out with the force equivalent to a small elephant sitting on top of it.

    The pressure has to be equalised first as a part of the aircraft being damaged on emergency landing or via the environmental controls.

  8. JaitcH

    Why worry, no one can open a passenger aircraft door - not even Arny

    Passenger cabin doors, even if on 'local', cannot be opened as the pressure differential between internal and external air atmospheres makes it absolutely impossible, let alone the fact that even to open them in proper circumstances is difficult.

    The regular exit doors have to be pulled inwards, rotated, then pushed out.

    The only doors that open in flight with any regularity are cargo doors, some of which only need swing out - Boeing aircraft have had several instances where their cargo doors opened because the safety mechanisms were poorly designed and manufactured. In one case a coffin dropped in to Ontario!

    So let the big breasted air-heads try their best, they won't make it.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      I think...

      ... the main reason people get charged with offences when they try this (even though like you've said it is impossible to open the doors), is the panic that it can cause on a flight.

      It is not common knowledge that Airline doors cannot be opened in flight and even for a large number of people who suspect it might be the case, they're still not 100% sure (just check the comments on this article from supposedly technical people).

      So for those people who dont know about the impossibility, what do they see? Someone who they think is trying to cause the aircraft to crash. Whats the likely outcome? Panic and pandemonium on the aircraft, as some of the more action driven people rush to tackle this person and lets face it they're unlikely to be polite about it to either the person trying to open the door or to anyone in their way to getting to that person. This will lead to a great deal of injuries, shouting and screaming in the cabin, people running around and basic chaos. This could quite quickly lead to distractions in the cockpit as the pilots think something is happening in the cabin (terrorist attack maybe?) and you are then walking a very quick path to disaster.

      This is the thinking of the authorities when they look at an event like this, so i have no problem with the person being charged. In this case, she's gotten off because of the Panic attack and whilst i can understand that to some degree, the fact is that she boarded the flight without taking her meds knowing that a Panic attack was a likely event. Really that sort of negligence on her part should see her get some sort of punishment - community service would seem a fitting punishment ot me...

      Anyway just my 2p...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "All the same, the passengers and staff would probably have preferred if she'd simply calmed herself down with a large stiff one"

    Surely that would have got her arrested for outraging public decency or whatever the merkin equivalent happens to be.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Sorry?

      Haha! It's funny because 'a stiff one' can also mean an erection! Ha.

      Well done everyone.

      1. Blake St. Claire

        Glad Ms. Bee is here to explain these things

        Having a blond day?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I was wondering

        just how many comments there would be about this- I was expecting a "don't make jokes about this or you get banned from El Reg" bootnote...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Ms Bee....

          You must just *love* it when the writer of the article sets them up like this. Did you do anything to annoy them at all?

          Must be editing a lot of them out, because I don't see to many above to be honest.. just more pointless people re-stating the mechanics of the pressurised door. Do people not read comments before posting these days?

  10. Dazed and Confused
    Paris Hilton

    a large stiff one

    Airlines normally take a dim view of young ladies trying to calm their nerves by trying a "large stiff one" on flights.

    Sorry, couldn't resist it.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    "A large stiff one ...... ?"

    Fnar fnar !

  12. P.Nutt

    Title goes here

    Lets face it there was no way in hell that door would open in flight due to the air pressure inside holding the door firmly shut. Only thing she has done is make herself look stupid<er>

    Mine is the one with the hidden parachute.

    1. El
      Paris Hilton

      I know!

      It's hard to believe she passed all the intelligence tests necessary to become a centerfold! Oh, wait...

  13. S Larti
    Paris Hilton

    "medicated with treble scotches"

    Fair enough. I'd certainly be happy to calm Miss Livingston down with a stiff one.

  14. Eden

    Don't they also

    Apart from the simple physics of it making a puny human opening the door at alititude impossible, don't they also install and lock huge bolt through a number of key points?

    I fly regularly with BA and see them install/remove number of bolts into the door frame on take off and landing that I presumed were to secure the door until they wanted to let people out?

    1. Neoc

      Re: Don't they also

      No, what they are doing is "arming" the doors - or, to be more specific, arming the emergency chutes located in that bulbous bit at the bottom of the door - and placing a piece of plastic a certain way to show whether the door is "armed" or not.

      An armed door deploys the chute automatically when it is opened. An unarmed door simply opens.

      1. Nigel 11

        No locks (except on DC10s)

        Just think of the consequences of a locked door failing to auto-unlock because of, say, mechanical damage, after a survivable on-the-ground collision that starts a small fire ... actually you do regularly see reports of this disaster having happened in a dodgy nightclub or hotel somewhere or other.

        Thinking about it I'm surprised that same disaster never befell a DC10, which did have doors that bolted shut to stop them blowing open at altitude (mostly ). Or did it?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Should have read,

    "Livingston was in the throes of a panic attack because she did not have her usual "medication" with her."

    More likely.

  16. b1tchell


    You could have at least included a link to this Centrefold's picture gallery.

  17. simon newton


    ts not like you can actually open a pressurized cabin door in flight, regardless of how much you try. It would be more appropriate for other passengers to point and laugh than to get anxious.

  18. Alan Edwards

    Doors won't open

    I always wonder why people care when some berk tries to open an airliner door in flight.

    1) it's locked

    2) You have to pull the door inwards, swing it, then push it back through the hole to open it. The airliner is pressurised, so there's a few tons of air pushing the door against it's frame. Unless you simultaneously de-pressurise the plane, you've no chance (same concept as opening a car door under water).

    Much better to sit there laughing at them while they tire themselves out heaving on the handle. Worst they'll do is bend the handle.

  19. John Tserkezis

    Anxiety attacks aren't about logic.

    Having suffered them myself on and off for years, I can tell you, logic is the last thing on your mind.

    So while I can't blame her entirely for that in particular...

    On the other hand, not travelling with your meds? Stupid.

    Kinda like blaming your actions on your being drunk, when you had to be perfectly sober to start drinking in the first place...

    Cheers. :-)

  20. James 5

    If she placed her fellow passengers..

    .. in a state of fear and terror then she is a terrorist - no excuses.

    If she'd been an Arab male doing the same things he'd have been shot, I guess.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: If she placed her fellow passengers..

      'No excuses'? I guess you've never suffered a panic attack. People don't have them to get attention, you know.

      1. BorkedAgain

        You may want to check the position of James' tongue.

        I thought it might have been in his cheek there...

        By the way, "not very many clothes horse" made me giggle.

        1. James 5

          Yep - you're right -

          I've been found out !

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      I doubt that.

      An Arab male might have been tackled and wrestled to the ground in a very undignified manner - people are less worried about tackling men than they are women - but it seems to me that Aircraft staffs are supposed to be trained to recognise things like panic attacks. A great many people suffer from them, and they are /ENTIRELY/ involuntary. Nobody CHOOSES to have a panic attack. The really lucky sufferers of them can sense them coming and take a pill to try to ward them off, but the very involuntary nature of them makes panic attacks all the more devastating.

      I would never put a good bout of xenophobic racism past our American overlords…but panic attacks really would have to be something that airline staff (like bus drivers and other such mass transit personnel) would have to be trained to recognise. They are simply a fact of life.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Yes, but...

        How does one distinguish a wild-eyed Arab terrorist attacker from a wild-eyed Arab panic attacker? Neither would have a bomb-vest (as a rule), both would likely be screaming, and both would likely be of a Middle Eastern appearance.

        I know! If one kills you, he's a terrorist!

        Mine's the one without the bomb vest.

    3. Paul RND*1000


      People are now so jittery that leaning down to tie your shoelace on an airliner might be enough to induce fear and terror in some of the more paranoid passengers. God help you if you sneeze or fart, biological and chemical attacks are especially fear-inducing.

      Then again, perhaps we can use that criteria to put political advertisement creators and cable news opinion pundits in orange jumpsuits, since they mostly deal in fearmongering to an easily scared audience.

  21. Blubster

    the passengers and staff ....

    ...would probably have preferred if she'd simply calmed herself down with a large stiff one.

    Bloody hell, the Yank prudes aren't in favour of drinking so someone joining the mile-high club in full public view would really piss them off.

    1. Nigel 11

      Panic attack

      I was under the impression that a panic attack referred to an involuntary condition affecting the autonomic nervous system which can be mistaken for a heart attack. The victim starts hyperventilating, sweating, heart races, victim thinks he/she can't breathe, is scared he/she is about to die. I wasn't aware that it had any effect at all on voluntary acts, beyond (understandably) requesting emergency medical attention and/or a priest.

      Or maybe a last beer?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "passengers and staff would probably have preferred if she'd simply calmed herself down with a large stiff one" -- or she could have had a drink!

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Wize

    When she tried to open the door

    Did any panicking passenger try to stop her?

    Can imagine the fight that would ensue

    Especially if it was another centrefold.

    And they had a mud pit handy

    Sorry, what was the question again?

  25. JeeBee

    Snakes on a plane

    Pictures or it didn't happen.

    There was no danger, and no need for charges, especially as it was a panic attack. She must have been thinking about seeing a large snake coming for her or something.

    1. El

      Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

      No, she saw a gremlin on the wing and was just going out to shoo it away!,000_Feet

  26. sabba


    You can't open the doors from the inside!?!?! Damn, does this mean that all of those action movies made their exploits up? You'll be telling me next that it's not possible to fight a bad guy on the wing of a jet plane at 30k ft.

  27. Juan Inamillion


    She was born in Manchester!

    Oh wait... Manchester, New Hampshire, USA...

    Can't believe I bothered to read the biog...


  28. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    open seseame

    So given that it's impossible to open plug doors physically - would I be arrested if I sat in my seat ad said "open sesame" after all it's about as much danger to the aircraft.

    There was an incident in australia where an oxygen bottle blew up and happened to hit the door arm opening it - but the door still didn't open.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    >The New York Post reports that sources said Livingston was in the throes of a panic attack, and did not have her usual medication with her

    Does said medication have a name with "Colombian" in it?

    Flippancy aside, this sounds like a good argument for Soma in the air systems on planes. Maybe it would shut up those damn kids too.

  30. Anonymous Coward


    ....let's make fun of people with mental illness! You know, 'cos it isn't obviously visible, so it isn't a real disease!

    *thumbs up and weak smile*

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Ahhhh.....

      All women are mentally ill though, amirite?

      *elbow in ribs, goofy grin*

      1. J 3


        Just the crazy ones. Obviously.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Panic attack leads to criminal charges

    How absurd. The poor woman needed the gentlest of treatment, and some care afterwards.

    What a ridiculous, inhuman, inhumane world this has become.

    Hay ho... could have been worse: she's lucky she wasn't tazed.

  32. J 3


    5'6" and flying Jet Blue, a supermodel? Hm, something is wrong with that picture.

    Speaking of pictures, after a quick Google I need a lie down now, Photoshop and cosmetic surgeries or not.

  33. Dave Cheetham
    Paris Hilton

    I love the writer of this article!

    "staff would probably have preferred if she'd simply calmed herself down with a large stiff one rather than the handle on a door... "

    my mind wandered at that point!

    Pars because she would know how to pull a handle.

  34. stu 4

    you can open the door quick easily actually...

    Planes depressurize on the ground and on ascent.

    If you have an altimeter on your watch you can confirm this easily enough.

    Up until the aircraft exceeds the altitude where the pressure becomes less than in the aircraft, the pressure differential is, in fact in your favour (as a door opening mentalist)

    As has been mentioned before, the plan is depressurised to around 8000-10000 feet equivalent.

    So, roughly speaking until the plane is higher than 10K, it would be a peice of piss to open the doors.

    And I would suggest that 9000 feet is still 'at altitude'.

    Perhaps one of the more commited El Reg commentards can test this fact out on their next Ryan Air flight ?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Compared to the usual mind numbing flight experience ...

    ... Jet Blue sounds like a fun company.

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