Below are some shared frightful moments onboard an aircraft:
“The life of everyone on board depends upon just one thing: finding someone back there who can not only fly this plane, but who didn’t have fish for dinner”
By. Oliver Smith, digital travel editor
EasyJet has denied claims that, ahead of a flight from Malaga to Bristol, one of its pilots told passengers there was a “50/50” chance both its engines would work, before asking them for a “show of hands” to decide whether they should take off or stay put.
According to Gloucestershire Live the flight had already been delayed for two days when a technical issue put the departure in jeopardy once more. The pilot’s alleged comments triggered panic on board, with many people demanding to be let off and one being physically sick.
EasyJet confirmed the “technical issue” but strongly denied that the pilot asked fliers for a vote, while one witness said the hysteria may have been a “misunderstanding”.
“We have ice on the wings and we don’t want to die”
It wouldn’t be the first time a cabin crew announcement has put passengers in a panic.
Last year Ryanair issued an apology after one of its flight attendants told passengers over the PA system: “We have ice on the wings and we don’t want to die.”
She was explaining to those on board why their flight had been delayed for eight hours, but her light-hearted tone did not go down especially well. One passenger claimed the “outrageous” remark saw “all hell break loose” in the cabin. A Ryanair spokesman said the “regettable” comment was made “in the heat of the moment”.
“A quick watery grave”
In 2014, holidaymakers were left “traumatised” after a Monarch pilot told them that a technical problem could have led them to “a quick, watery grave”.
The comments were made after a flight from the Caribbean was delayed for 24 hours due to a problem with the reverse thrusters. As passengers boarded the following day, the pilot also reportedly compared the fault to one that caused the Lauda Air crash in 1991 that killed all 213 passengers on board.
“We’re in trouble. We’re going down”
That incident followed a Southwest Airlines flight, during which a pilot, when alerted to a problem, bizarrely declared: “We’re in trouble, we’re going down”. The plane landed safely, despite the warning.
More of the world’s scariest (real) in-flight announcements
In our Travel Truths series Patrick Smith, a pilot, explained that “passengers will be told about any emergency or serious malfunction. And most nonserious ones too.”
He added: “If you’re informed about a landing gear issue, pressurization problem, engine trouble, or the need for a precautionary landing, do not construe this to be a lifeor-death situation. It’s virtually always something minor – though you’ll be kept in the loop anyway. With even an outside chance of an evacuation in mind, you have to be kept in the loop.”
Perhaps more eye-opening, however, were the comments left on the article by readers detailing the most worrying crew announcements they have heard on board a flight. Here are some of the best:
21. “On the way to Paris on an early flight, BA pilot announces: ‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to inform you that this is my first flight… [long pause while passengers look at one another]… of the day’, cue relief all round…”
22. “On a plane flying from Kuala Lumpur to Borneo, a good hour or so into the flight, the pilot announced: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen I’m afraid we are going to have to turn around and return to KL as there seems to be a problem with our navigation system. This is fine when we are over land but the problem is rather serious when we’re over water’. Given that we had been over water for a considerable amount of time it was a fairly harrowing journey back.”
23. “After having to wait for over an hour inside the bus on the runway, without any explanation (we learned later that somebody got sick in the previous flight and had to wait for medical assistance), we entered the plane and took off from Lisbon to Frankfurt. Almost an hour later, the captain says: ‘Today everything is going wrong. We have a technical problem and must turn back’. Unfortunate choice of words that kept everybody terrified for the next hour, until we landed safely.”
24. “Flying in a certain sunny African state a decade or so ago: ‘Ladies and gentlemen if you look over our starboard wing you can see the trail of an obsolete Russian Strela 3 that somebody just fired at us’.”
Watch out for missiles
CREDIT: © 2014 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP/BLOOMBERG
25. “Way back in the Seventies I was on a flight from Heathrow to Glasgow. After take-off there were bumps and the some long, loud grinding and thumping sounds. A little later the captain calmly announced: ‘You may have heard some unusual noises shortly after take-off. It seems that the undercarriage did not fully retract. We therefore recycled it and will now continue our flight to Glasgow when we hope all will go well for our landing there.’ He made no further announcements to the ashen faced passengers. The relief after landing safely was palpable.”
26. “I was sat next to the pilot on a small prop plane coming into land on a dirt strip in Central America. As we hit the ground, a cow decided it would be a good time to wander across the runway. We hit the cow pretty hard and the impact flipped the plane over on to its roof. Amazingly we were both fine, but upside down, still strapped into our seats and with some sort of fluid leaking over us. The pilot turns to me and says: ‘Well that didn’t go so well but at least we get steak for dinner’.”
27. “In the days when every company worth its salt had a ‘mission statement’, I was less than totally reassured on an internal flight in a third world country to read from a card stuck in the seat pocket in front of me that the airline’s mission was ‘to reduce the number of accidents’!”
28. “I was flying to Nairobi sometime in the Seventies. We were somewhere over the Med when the plane seemed to hit a bump. The Captain came on the intercom and said: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, if you would care to take a look at your in-flight magazine and check out our route on the large map in the centre pages, you will see that we have just crossed the fold in the middle…'”
29. “‘Ladies and Gentlemen this is your captain speaking. On our approach to Hong Kong we’ll be touching the tail-end of the typhoon currently in the area. So things might get a touch exciting’. It was pure terror.”
A storm in Hong Kong prompted one particularly scary announcement
30. “Flying into Bathurst, New South Wales, the pilot announced that he was ‘taking a practice run over the runway to scare off the kangaroos’.”
31. “‘Please fasten your safety belts in case we come to a sudden stop – like against the side of a mountain'”
32. “On a delayed flight out of Chicago, when we finally got clearance to take off, the pilot announced: ‘It’s Miller time’ as he hit the throttle.
33. “I imagine a lot of people have heard EasyJet cabin crew’s stock eye-opener (it must be in their manual). ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we would like to inform you that we have on board someone very special today. He’s an 89-year-old gentleman making his very first flight. So on leaving the plane would you please shake hands with your pilot’. There was one particular crew that used this announcement daily.”
34. “I was delayed leaving Hong Kong last month because of a bad storm over China. On arrival at Heathrow, the driver apologised for the delay but reminded us that ‘it is better to arrive late in this world than early in the next’.”
35. “‘Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard this British Airways flight to Denver. If your travel plans do not include visiting Denver, then now would be the perfect time to make yourself known to a member of the cabin crew'”.
36. “Coming into land in Bermuda on a rather stormy night in January, the pilot comes on and says, “‘We’ll attempt this landing but we might not make it so we’ll keep coming back around and try it again until we do, we have plenty of fuel’.”
We’ll attempt this landing but we might not make it
37. “I’m sure I have heard scary announcements, but frankly its the amusing ones that I remember. In a safety briefing on Westjet (Canada) the flight attendant said: ‘In the event of a sudden drop in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. If you are travelling with someone who needs help, put your own mask on first, then help your husband’.”
38. “Not really in the same category, but amusing nonetheless: arriving in London from Hong Kong on a Virgin flight the cabin crew announced: ‘It’s customary after a long-haul flight to ask for volunteers to clean the toilets. If you wish to volunteer, please stand up before the fasten seat-belt sign has been switched off’.”
39.. “When flying into Augusta, Maine, from New York in a 12-seater Beechcraft 99 (after being caught in and tossed about in a big snow storm for 45 minutes), the pilot turned round, pulled the curtain aside and yelled: ‘The runway has 24 inches of snow on it and it’s building fast so they are going to send a snowplough down and hopefully keep the snow off until we land. We’re going to give it a couple of minutes though so that we can hopefully get down and stop before we not catch up with the snowplough!’ We made it and ended up just 30 feet behind the moving snow plough who then led us into the terminal building. The snowstorm grounded all flights for three days after that.”
40. “1979 – Lusaka to London…’Ladies and gentlemen, we are running out of fuel, so we are diverting to Rome to make an emergency landing’.”
41. “RNAC (Royal Nepal Air Corp) flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu. After 15 minutres the plane does a steep left turn and heads back to Dhaka. The captain says: ‘We go back to Dhaka. Plane broke. Badly’.”
42. “Flight from Bristol to Faro waiting on the runway to take off. Pilot: ‘Sorry for the delay. We are just waiting for Brussels to recognize we exist.’ Long pause. #Good news. Brussels have acknowledged our presence so we can now take off’.”