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.