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:
1. “Returning home to Aberdeen on a wet and windy Friday afternoon, the pilot explained, ‘Good afternoon gentlemen. You will have noticed that it’s a bit hairy in the skies and the wind is against us. We require a steep take off out of here and it will be tricky but hold on to your seats, it’s Friday night and I’ve got a wedding reception to go to. Over and out’.”
2. Sitting quietly on a flight to Helsinki with my boss (a terrified flyer at the best of times) the pilot made an announcement in Finnish that made all the Finns sit up and take note. He then repeated in laconic English: ‘Ladies and gentlemen we shall be making an unscheduled landing and steep approach to Tampere airport, the plane is on fire, thank you’. We then make a Stuka-like approach to Tampere and a safe landing. It was only smoke in the cockpit. My boss did try to get me to hire a car and drive him back to the UK though.”
3. “Ten seconds after take off at full thrust we felt a loss of power and then detected the smell of burnt metal. The captain announced: ‘Would the lead steward please come to the flight deck… immediately’. The steward duly attended and then walked towards the back of the plane with her head skewed firmly to the port side. Once past the wing, she stared at the engine, returned to the cockpit and closed the door. There were several more trips back and forth and people started to panic. It turned that a birdstrike had completely fried the engine. We returned to the airport safely, but ‘immediately’ is not a word that you want to hear coming from the cockpit.”
4. “A few years ago on a flight from Paris to Dublin the crew played in English the correct announcement (‘The captain has switched on the seatbelt sign’ or whatever) but in French they mistakenly played the announcement to ‘adopt the brace position in preparation for a crash landing’. All the French passengers immediately went into a panic, while the rest of us wondered what the fuss was about!”
5. “Late flight from Perth to Singapore, about to take-off, but suddenly came to a halt and taxied off the runway. ‘Ladies and gents, captain here. Just had a warning light there, probably a glitch so we’ll just contact engineering’. Fifteen minutes later off we went again only to come to another shuddering halt. The tannoy starts: ‘Errr, captain here, looks like it wasn’t a glitch after all.’ Excellent. Once airborne, he came on to say ‘Trust me, it’s better being down there, wishing you were up here, than being up here, wishing you were down there!’ Love those Aussie pilots.”
6. “Long time ago, as a young teen flying from San Juan to New York. Big bang and the cabin lights went out. I had actually experienced this before, and knew it was a lightning strike, so wasn’t worried – lots of stormy weather in that neck of the woods. Some passengers had a little ripple of concern and then settled down. Lights came back. Then the captain said ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we were just struck by lightning.’ Now THAT sent the passengers into a complete tiz. Some crying, and – for some reason I have never understood – some climbed over the back of their seats. One (presumably green) flight attendant went pale and just kind of dropped, not a faint, more of a prayer. If he hadn’t said anything it would have been a lot better.”
7. “‘Ladies and Gentlemen, you may have noticed that our descent is bumpier than usual. We came too close to another plane and I had to take evasive action.’ Cue white knuckles until we landed.”
8. “Landing in Johannesburg with only three passengers on board, and in a magnificently thick Afrikaans accent: ‘Ach man, we made it again, when will our luck run out? The pilot is drunk and the co-pilot appears to be a baboon’. I THINK it was a private joke with someone on board.”
9. “Flying into Dallas/Fort Worth Airport one evening, many years ago. It was a textbook landing but after a few seconds rolling down the runway, the engines suddenly throttled up, the nose pitched up violently and we were taking off again. There was a lot of nervous chatter in the cabin for about a minute or so while we gained height and levelled off. Then the captain spoke over the tannoy in a thick, comforting Texan drawl: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I do apologise for that unscheduled and sudden departure, but there was another airplane crossing the runway, so we thought it would be a good idea to go around and try again in a few minutes’.”
10. Airbus 320, high summer, Skiathos/Thessaloniki to Gatwick. Pilot: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, there is the largest storm cloud formation I have ever experienced on our route over central Europe and I am going to attempt to fly over it. Please fasten your seat belts. Cabin Crew, stow all loose items and take your seats.’ It would have cost us many English pounds at Alton Towers to experience that next two hours.”
11. “Flying in a very small twin to Amsterdan Schipol from Cambridge Airport, after several pints of excellent free coffee. “Er, where is the loo?” “We don’t have one,” replied the steward. Every minor bump was agony and I nearly got arrested for rushing through the gate to the nearest loo.”
12. “‘Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just discovered that they’ve forgotten to give us any glasses for the drinks on this long-haul flight…’”
13. “Flight from Tel Aviv. Crew came on the intercom before take-off and told us: ‘The in-flight entertainment system isn’t working and the cabin crew will be organising karaoke instead’. I think the cabin crew were even more terrified than the the rest of us about the thought of a plane-load of oiks singing off-key.”
14. “BA flight from Kuala Lumpur on the evening of June 24, 1982, ran into volcanic dust. Captain makes the following statement to the passengers: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”
15. “On approaching Bristol in the pitch dark I think I’d have been happier if the pilot hadn’t informed us that ‘there is rather more snow on the runway than we’d been led to believe’.”
16. “Flying across central India. Some dodgy storm clouds appear and the 737 started to pitch and roll, before suddenly dropping what seemed like hundreds of feet. The pilot came on and made an announcement in Hindi then in English. The English one was: ‘Ladies and gentlemen the storm is very bad. I will do my best to land the plane’. I went white as the proverbial and the Indian gent next to me asked if I was OK. Made a bit of a stab at a stiff upper lip and asked him if he thought we would get down safely. He asked me why I was worried and told me the pilot had forgotten part of the English statement. Those little, but lovely, two words were: ‘on time’.”
17. “On a flight from Cambodia to Singapore, the captain, sounding very serious, says: ‘As soon as we take off, I am going to ask cabin crew to serve any drinks and snacks within 30 minutes. After that, I want all passengers and cabin crew to be belted up and no-one is to walk around for any reason. There is a big storm ahead. Please be prepared’. Not exactly what you want to hear before take off. He was absolutely on the nail. It was like the plane hit a wall.”
18. “About 20 years ago. Flight from Helsinki to JFK, landing in heavy rain. Just before touchdown the pilot put all the throttles up and climbed back to around 2,000 ft. A few minutes later he announced in a deadpan voice, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, there is too much rain to land and the visibility is not good. At the last minute I saw I was landing on the river, so we will stay up here until the rain belt goes through. There is nothing to worry about’.”
19. On a flight from New York to Amsterdam, the pilot comes on and says: ‘I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we have a 200mph tailwind so we should make Amsterdam in record time. The bad news is that it’s going to be a bumpy ride’.”
20. “Schipol to Bergen flight. There was a very vicious wind sheer and the Airbus we were on was on approach and veering with the wind. The runway lights were on and I stared out of the window to see the road alongside the airport. We could see the drivers of the cars peering up. Suddenly, the plane pitched up and the engines were on full tilt. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have decided to go around again and this time we will land on the runway’, in the best laconic Scandinavian accent I have ever heard. People start praying.”
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’.”
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.”
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’.”
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’.”