Passengers criticize AirAsia crew reaction during rapid descent

By Ray Downs  |  Oct. 16, 2017 at 8:35 PM
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Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Passengers aboard an AirAsia flight from Perth, Australia, to Bali, Indonesia, were angry at the flight crew for showing fear when the plane rapidly descended nearly 24,000 feet Monday.

About an hour after the plane left Pert, the Australian Transit Safety Bureau said the plane depressurized at about 34,000 feet and the "crew conducted an emergency descent to 10,000 feet," which is a standard practice, CNN reported.

But passengers said they were more startled by the reaction of the flight crew than the sudden plunge.

"The panic was escalated, because of the behavior of staff, who were screaming and looked tearful," passenger Clare Askew told reporters, according to USA Today. "We look to them for reassurance and we didn't get any."

Video of the incident shows oxygen masks being deployed and a member of the flight crew telling passengers to "buckle your seatbelts" in English and other commands in another language. But passengers said the English commands weren't clear and they didn't understand the non-English orders, adding to the confusion.

Passenger Mark Bailey said the only English instruction he heard was to "brace" for impact.

"They started screaming 'Emergency, emergency!'" Bailey said. "They just went hysterical, there was no real panic before that, but everyone panicked after that."

After the rapid descent, the plane returned to Perth and passengers were given new flights. Malaysia-based AirAsia Group blamed the incident on a technical failure and apologized for the inconvenience.

"We commend our pilots for landing the aircraft safely and complying with standard operating procedure," said Ling Liong Tien, the head of safety for AirAsia. "We are fully committed to the safety of our guests and crew and we will continue to ensure that we adhere to the highest safety standards."

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