The Copa Airlines flight from Panama City was taxiing to its gate at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday afternoon when the teen "unexpectedly" left via the exit door, the airline company said in a statement.
Airport spokesman Doug Yakel said an airfield construction crew took hold of the teen and he is in custody. The plane continued to move to the designated terminal and all the passengers got to the airport without incident.
No runways or other flights were affected, Yakel said.
"Right as the plane landed, a kid opened the emergency exit, jumped out onto the wing and then slipped off", said Matt Crowder of Atherton, who was on the plane. He was later transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Yakel said.
Some passengers described the teen as "fidgety and anxious" throughout the flight, according to The Mercury News.
"We are cooperating fully with the relevant authorities to support the ongoing investigation", the company said. According to witnesses, the young man quickly and suddenly popped open the emergency door, slid down the plane's wing and hit the ground and started running. "And everyone was just screaming", she added, CBS SFBay Area reported.
There have been other similar incidents before where passengers have tried to jump off planes. The crew detained him until the police arrived.
"They were yelling, 'Tell the flight attendants".
"It was pretty insane", said passenger Matt Crowder.