Passengers aboard an AirAsia flight from Perth to Bali Sunday had a horrific time as the flight crew started panicking after the plane rapidly descended 20,000 feet, following an apparent pressurization issue in the cabin.
Flight QZ535 returned safely on Sunday to the airport at Perth, only 78 minutes after departing for Bali, with 145 passengers onboard.
“The panic was escalated because of the behaviour of the staff, who were screaming and looked tearful and shocked,” passenger Clare Askew told the reporters.
“We looked to them for reassurance and we didn’t get any,” added Askew. “We were more worried because of how panicked they were.”
According to data from Flightaware.com, the cabin of flight somehow became depressurized at 34,000 feet and the air crew was then forced to bring the plane down to a safer altitude of only 10,000 feet in a matter of minutes. It’s standard practice for pilots to descend to that altitude in the event of cabin depressurization.
The pressurization issue in the cabin prompted oxygen masks to drop from the ceiling amid emergency announcements from the crew, which were apparently far from calm.
Video posted on Twitter by Nine News Australia shows the chaos onboard:
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) October 16, 2017
“Hostesses started screaming: ‘Emergency, emergency.’ They just went hysterical,” said another passenger named Mark Bailey. “There was no real panic before that, then everyone panicked,” he added.
“We were all pretty much saying goodbye to each other,” said Leah, another passenger. “It was really upsetting.”
Captain Ling Liong Tien, the AirAsia Group’s head of safety, said the pilot turned back “following a technical issue to ensure the safety of passengers.”
“We commend our pilots for landing the aircraft safely and complying with standard operating procedure,” Tien added.
AirAsia further stated that affected passengers were placed on the next flight to Bali. “The safety of passengers and crew is our priority,” they also stated. “AirAsia apologizes to passengers for any inconvenience caused.”