Passengers on BA Flight Warned to Brace for Crash


Scary gaffe adds to week of airline mishaps

By Liz Goodwin

In the middle of an otherwise-peaceful British Airways flight from London to Hong Kong on Tuesday, a terrifying announcement blasted over the speakers.

The automated message warned the 275 passengers to brace themselves, because the plane was about to crash into the sea.

“We all thought we were going to die,” one passenger said.

Flight attendants quickly reassured the traumatized passengers that the message was a mistake, and British Airways say they are investigating how the incident could have happened. (A similar incident happened in 1999, when a “mischievous passenger” pushed the automated crash message as a joke on a flight from San Francisco to London.)

This is just the latest mishap to come to light in a wild week for airlines.

On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a record $24.2 million penalty for American Airlines, saying the company put passengers in danger by flying 14,000 flights with planes that didn’t meet safety standards. In 2008, the airline canceled more than 3,000 flights to try to fix the electrical wiring on its jets. American plans to appeal the fine.

Meanwhile, in one of the more ill-considered marketing moves in recent memory, Henan Airlines plastered a photo of a crashed, charred plane on its homepage this week, after 42 of its passengers died in the crash in China. The company has fired its president over the crash.

At least one of the week’s airline gaffes added a measure of adorability to the cavalcade of fear, safety fines and crash photos. A Thai woman was arrested at Bangkok’s airport after she hid a drugged baby tiger in her suitcase, next to a stuffed toy tiger. Thai officials subsequently placed the cub at a wildlife refuge.


I wonder if the recording in question actually used the word “crash.” I doubt it. Perhaps a euphemism, like “land” (unlikely, since landing in the ocean sounds a bit oxymoronic ), “ditch” (bit too old school?) or “do an Air France.”


I play that briefing for my pax every time I turn off the autopilot. :wink: :wink:


Happened again!

British Airways Errs in Crash Warning to Passengers

By Katie Kindelan

British Airways apologized today for an error that left passengers on board a flight from Miami to London in a state of panic and shock.

Passengers traveling on British Airways Flight 206 were about three hours into their flight early Friday morning when an announcement warned them to brace themselves for an emergency water landing because the plane was about to go down.

“This is an emergency. We will shortly be making an emergency landing on water,” the taped message said, played at around 3 a.m. on the overnight flight.

The cabin erupted in panic as startled passengers woke to the announcement and feared for their lives.

“My wife was crying and passengers were screaming,” a passenger from Scotland told The Telegraph. “I thought we were going to die.”

The crew played a second announcement a minute later, however, telling passengers to ignore the warning.

In reality, the plane was cruising safely at an altitude of 35,000 feet and halfway from Miami to London’s Heathrow Airport at the time.

The flight continued safely to London, where the disembarking passengers were met by British Airways representatives handing out letters apologizing for the error.

The airline blamed the scare on a pre-recorded emergency announcement that was activated in error, according to the Daily Mail. It was unclear whether the announcement resulted from human error, or a computer malfunction.

“The cabin crew canceled the announcement immediately and sought to reassure customers that the flight was operating normally. We apologize to customers for causing them undue concern,” the company said in a statement.

The incident is the second time in two years that an emergency warning has mistakenly gone off on a British Airways flight.

In August 2010, 275 passengers onboard a British Airways flight from London to Hong Kong were jarred by a similar message announcing, “We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water.”

In that case, again, crew members quickly issued another message saying the warning was in error, and the airline later issued a statement of apology.

The flight had been safely passing over the North Sea at the time of the announcement.


The crew played a second announcement a minute later, however, telling passengers to ignore the warning.

Hope they meant the crew did a live recording.