The British Airways cabin crew of a flight from Miami to London mistakenly announced the plane was going down and they should brace themselves for an emergency water landing.
The panic began to spread among the passengers – with many fearing they were about to die – and flight attendant came on over the intercom to apologize, saying the message was played in error.
Duncan and Tracey Farquharson, from London, were on Saturday’s flight and have accused the airline of trivializing passengers’ concerns.
The couple told the Daily Telegraph that staff issued a “blasé” apology and did not explain exactly what the error was until hours later, when they were landing at Heathrow
Duncan Farquharson, 58, an engineer, said: “We were about three hours into the flight when an automated message came over the tannoy saying: <<This is an emergency, we will shortly be making an emergency landing on water>>.
“We looked at each other and figured we were both about to die. Families with children were distraught and people were in tears. It was very distressing.
“About 30 seconds later one of the cabin crew told us to ignore the announcement and accept their apologies but the tone of suggested they had not grasped how seriously we had taken it.
“Imagining yourself plunging towards a cold, watery grave in the middle of the Atlantic is a pretty horrific thought but they seemed very blasé about it.”
Tracey Farquharson, 51, an administrator, added: “The captain didn’t even say anything about it until when we were coming in to land and even that did not explain what had happened.
“It still makes me very emotional thinking about it now – it was very traumatic.”
A British Airways spokesman said that the cabin crew immediately apologized and spoke to passengers individually to reassure them.
They confirmed that the pre-recorded emergency announcement was activated in error.
British Airways spokesman said: “The cabin crew cancelled the announcement immediately and sought to reassure customers that the flight was operating normally.
“We would like to apologize to passengers on the flight for causing them undue concern.”