Flight secrets: Cabin crew reveal how they deal with emergencies on board flights

Sharing secrets and travel advice on Reddit, various flight attendants, pilots and cabin crew members revealed their near death experiences and how they handled these frightening incidences. One Reddit user, who works as a flight attendant, opened up about a harrowing ordeal while flying from Dallas, Texas to Honolulu, Hawaii.

During the journey, an engine unexpectedly shut down due to overheating, resulting in a tense two and a half hours that put her faith to the test. “We were flying DFW-HNL (Dallas – Honolulu) and were about 30 minutes past the point of no return and the captain informs us (flight attendants) that he had to shut one engine down because it was overheating,” she said.

“We had about two and a half hours until we could reach any kind of land. We had a new hire working the flight that got very emotional and started saying things like ‘I don’t want to die’ in a panicked voice. 

“We had to shush her so passengers wouldn’t start freaking out.”

“We sent a message about the sick passenger. I know most passengers had no idea about any of this. I was standing there in the back sweating from helping this guy back to his seat, stressing about the poor new hire who we locked in the bathroom and just trying to gather myself. All I could do was laugh at myself for getting so worked up. We landed with no incident.”

In the revealing Reddit thread, a pilot also shared his close calls while flying a Boeing 737. “I was flying a 737 on final approach five miles behind a 787 when we got into their wake turbulence. The aircraft banked left sharply then immediately went into a very steep nose down right bank. 

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“I immediately corrected this but for a quick second I thought it might go over a 90° bank angle. I have never fought that hard in an airliner to recover, but I recovered, and had the smoothest landing of my career.”

In-flight emergencies can occur more often than travellers may think. In 2017, there were nearly 2,000 declared emergencies to the Civil Aviation Authority, which range from ‘distress’ which represents imminent danger or immediate assistance and ‘urgency’ which indicates concern for the safety of an aircraft.

In addition, a 2013 study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, found one in every 604 flights involves a reported medical emergency, which is often divided into two categories – injury related or health related.

This can range from injuries as a result of turbulence to a single passenger health issue, from an allergic reaction to a stroke.


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