Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Almost an Emergency

I have been in the airline business for more than thirty three (33) years and I traveled extensively. Throughout this period  I had one inflight emergency, a bird strike that took out an engine on take off from Toulouse in 1987 in a Lear 35.

All my flights have been uneventful not even an unruly passenger, until my flight on the 29th of March, on the first leg of my flight to Detroit. I had my second inflight emergency, well almost an EMERGENCY. On BA0107 a B747-400 out of Dubai at 01:55 lt to London Heathrow. About 3 hours into the flight I opened my eyes to see the Oxygen Masks deploy and the deep prerecorded Boeing voice instructing us to use the oxygen masks. As I grabbed mine and pulled it towards me, the captain came on the PA system to tell us not to use the masks. Everything is OK and nothing is wrong with the aircraft and this was the result of a "SPURIOUS" technical error. The aircraft was quite, no panic. I suppose it helps when almost everyone was asleep and just woke up.

It was surreal to watch these oxygen masks deploy. I was not panicking or heart racing and pounding. I suppose years of listening to safety briefings pays off. Most of the passengers went back to sleep. This"spurious"technical error took down the entertainment system and the passenger service modules (no reading lights).

The cabin crew was flustered, I could here lots of nervous giggling. The remainder of the flight was uneventful.
The BA Customer Relations staff were at the bottom of the stairs handing out apology forms for us to fill.

A couple of things I like to share:
1. The passengers were calm, probably sleepy as most woke up due to prerecorded announcement
2. I was wide awake and I did not panic.
3. The cabin crew became subdued and lucky for us this was not a real emergency.
4. We were not told what really happened. I don't accept this "spurious"technical error theory. I subscribe to
    the "finger problem" theory.

So much for my second emergency. However, looking at BA vs UNITE and the cabin crew saga that has been going on for the last two years, my personal feeling is I really did not want to be with this particular crew in a real emergency.

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