After my scary flight on American Airlines last week, the friendly skies do not look so, ah, friendly. Turns out passengers on another commercial jetliner, a Southwest Airlines flight from Tampa, Florida to Raleigh, North Carolina, got an even worse fright from their pilot.
Last Tuesday evening, the Southwest pilot announced over the PA system: “We’re going down.” And the plane reportedly dropped about 20,000 feet in 11 minutes. Later, the 737 made a safe emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Many of the passengers were freaked out by the incident. Southwest officials claimed the pilot’s warning was for the crew only. The aircraft was reportedly having some pressurization problem.
On the same day, October 12, I was on a flight from Maui, Hawaii to LAX in Los Angeles, when the pilot made this announcement: “Flight attendants prepared for landing.” Hey, that had my head spinning. We were out over the Pacific Ocean! The pilot came back on the PA a short time later and explained to the passengers we would be landing shortly in Honolulu because of an air condition problem. We did make a bumpy landing at Honolulu International Airport where a similar issue with the plane’s pressurization was fixed.
Apparently the pressurization issues on these two flights were major problems, but not reasons for the passengers to start texting their good-byes to relatives or friends. The blunt announcements by the pilots made put the passengers through some unnecessary drama. Perhaps, what is needed is more passenger sensitivity training for airline pilots or maybe a refresher course on how to use the PA system.