Relief flight with passengers, crew of SQ321 arrives in Singapore

Relief flight with passengers, crew of SQ321 arrives in Singapore

/ 11:55 AM May 22, 2024

SIA relief flight with passengers and crew members of SQ321 arrives in Singapore

Passengers from SQ321 arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 2 at around 5am on May 22, 2024. The Straits Times/Asia News Network

SINGAPORE – Passengers who were on flight SQ321 arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 2 at about 5 am on May 22, with almost all briskly escorted out of the baggage collection area by SIA staff.

There were hugs and some tears as they reunited with worried family members and loved ones. Airport staff or personnel wearing Singapore Airlines (SIA) vests ushered them in an efficient and controlled manner to the arrival pick-up point, bus bay or T2 carpark.

ADVERTISEMENT

Their uneventful departure from the airport was a stark contrast to the ordeal that the passengers had faced the day before, when SQ321 experienced sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin about 10 hours after departing from London.

FEATURED STORIES

READ: 1 killed, 30 hurt after London-SG flight hit by severe turbulence

The turbulence caused one death and injured dozens of passengers, and the pilot made an emergency landing in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

SIA said in a Facebook post on May 22 that 131 passengers and 12 crew members who were on board SQ321 arrived in Singapore via a relief flight at 5.05am. They were received by SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong.

Another 79 passengers and six crew members from SQ321 remain in Bangkok, said SIA. They include those receiving medical care, as well as their family members and loved ones who were on the flight.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to data from flight tracker FlightRadar24, the relief flight that brought the passengers from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Changi Airport – SQ9071 – left Bangkok at about 3:10 am, Singapore time.

Earlier on May 21, the same Airbus A350 had taken off from Singapore’s Changi Airport at about 9pm, Singapore time. Flights between the two cities take about 2½ hours on average.

READ: What is flight turbulence and why does it happen?

At about 1 am, Changi Airport staff set up barricades in the T2 arrival hall to guide arriving passengers from the baggage collection area’s exit either to the private-hire car pick up point, or bus bay and carpark.

The barricades occupied about half the hall’s area, with next of kin and those who knew the passengers allowed past the cordon while the media and other members of the public were kept out.

After SQ9071 arrived, the first passenger was spotted leaving the arrival hall at about 5:15 am.

As passengers entered the arrival hall from the baggage collection area, each individual or group was accompanied by an SIA staff member, while care officers from Changi Airport were also on the ground to help them and their family members.

Some passengers were ushered towards two buses that bore Terminal 4 shuttle bus livery, while others went to the pick-up point where a row of taxis was lined up. SIA escorts also accompanied passengers to their vehicles in the carpark.

READ: Passenger who died on Singapore Airlines flight likely had heart attack

The first bus – which was not fully filled – left at close to 5.30am, with subsequent buses coming and leaving as and when a handful of passengers and SIA escorts boarded. It is not known where the buses were headed to.

SIA relief flight with passengers and crew members of SQ321 arrives in Singapore

There were hugs and some tears as they reunited with worried family members and loved ones. The Straits Times/Asia News Network

SIA said it has arranged transportation to bring passengers to their homes or hotels in Singapore. For passengers with onward connections, the airline has rebooked alternative flights for them and arranged hotel accommodation or lounge access for them until their next flight.

In a video message posted on Facebook, Mr Goh said SIA was very sorry for the traumatic experience that everyone on board SQ321 went through. The airline dispatched a team to Bangkok on the night of May 21, and they have been helping on the ground, he added.

“Our priority is to render all possible assistance to our passengers and crew members,” Mr Goh said.

“Once again, our deepest apologies to everyone affected by this incident.”

Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said on May 22 that officers from his ministry’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau arrived in Bangkok on the night of May 21.

“As this incident involves a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board is sending an accredited representative and four technical advisers to support the investigation,” he wrote on Facebook.

As SQ321 passengers filtered into T2’s arrival hall from the baggage collection area, one hugged her loved one for at least two minutes upon seeing him.

Another passenger, who was asked by the media if she was injured as she walked to the pick-up point, replied: “No, we were very lucky.”

One man was spotted with a cut on his left elbow, while a woman was pushed out of the arrival hall in a wheelchair.

SIA relief flight with passengers and crew members of SQ321 arrives in Singapore

There was a man with a cut on his left elbow, while a woman was pushed out of the arrival hall in a wheelchair. The Straits Times/Asia News Network

A family member of a passenger, who declined to be named, said her 23-year-old son who is studying in London had taken SQ321 back alone.

She first heard from her son, whom she said suffered a minor cut, at about 4:20 pm on May 21. She added that she was unable to reach SIA for more information, and had only received updates from her son.

Another passenger’s parents, Mr Chew and his wife, were among those seen streaming into the arrival hall minutes before the relief flight landed at T2. They were waiting for their son, a 22-year-old full-time national serviceman returning from London with his girlfriend who had just completed a student exchange program.

Mr Chew said his son had been communicating with him and his wife via text messages on WhatsApp ever since SQ321 arrived in Bangkok. His son said he was “thrown all over the place” during the turbulence but was all right, save for a few knocks.

SIA relief flight with passengers and crew members of SQ321 arrives in Singapore

More family members welcoming flight SQ321 passengers at Terminal 2 on May 22. The Straits Times/Asia News Network

The 57-year-old, who works in the logistics industry and declined to give his full name, said he had mixed feelings.

“We’re blessed that they are well, but until I look at him physically, I won’t know that for sure,” he said. “I told him to seek medical attention while in Bangkok, and perhaps get his head checked.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Mr Chew, his wife, his son, as well as the younger Mr Chew’s girlfriend and her loved ones were later seen embracing one another in the arrival hall, before leaving together.

Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said on May 22 that he was relieved to hear that 143 passengers and crew aboard SQ321 have returned safely to Singapore.

“On behalf of the government and people of Singapore, I thank the authorities in Thailand for their support in providing medical assistance and looking after the affected passengers and crew,” he wrote on Facebook.

“My deepest condolences once again to the family and loved ones of the deceased. I also hope and pray that those who are injured will recover and return home soon.”

TAGS: Singapore Airlines, turbulence

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.