SQ321 passengers describe chaos on turbulence-hit flight
‘Thrown to the roof and then to the floor’

Singapore Airlines passengers describe chaos on turbulence-hit flight

/ 06:00 PM May 22, 2024

Singapore Airlines passengers describe chaos on turbulence-hit flight

Members of a rescue team discuss after a London-Singapore flight was diverted to Bangkok due to severe turbulence, in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The plane apparently plummeted for a number of minutes before it was diverted to Bangkok, where emergency crews rushed to help injured passengers amid stormy weather, Singapore Airlines said Tuesday. Associated Press

SINGAPORE – A passenger onboard Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 on May 21 had just taken off his seatbelt to use the restroom when the plane plunged without warning.

The 30-year-old was sent slamming into the ceiling of the cabin, before falling back near his seat.


“I hit my neck and my back,” said the passenger, recounting the moment that SQ321 was hit by severe turbulence on its way to Singapore from London.


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

The incident, which occurred about 10 hours into the flight, took place during a routine breakfast service, throwing things in the cabin, even people, everywhere.

The passenger, who requested anonymity, said his fiancee was in the restroom, and saw the seatbelt sign flash for a “split second” before the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft was hit by a severe bout of turbulence.

The couple suffered head and back injuries.

He commended crew members for tending to passengers even though most of them were bleeding or limping.

One stewardess was “holding her neck with blood oozing out, but she was still going around and helping people get medication”, he said.


READ: 5 Filipinos on turbulence-hit flight admitted in Bangkok hospital

“They need some medals, because they were the heroes. 100 per cent,” he added.

It left a scene of chaos in the plane, with dents in the overhead cabin panels, oxygen masks and panels hanging from the ceiling and luggage strewn about.

Passengers told reporters they saw heads slamming into the overhead lights – in some cases the impact was forceful enough to dent the panels.

“I saw people from across the aisle going completely horizontal, hitting the ceiling and landing back down in really awkward positions. People, like, getting massive gashes in the head, concussions,” passenger Dzafran Azmir, 28, told Reuters after arriving in Singapore.

The incident, which left one passenger dead and many others injured, caused the flight to be diverted to Bangkok, Thailand.

There were 211 passengers on the flight, which included 41 Singaporeans. The others were from countries such as Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Britain. There were also 18 crew members on board.

Passenger Drew Kessler shared on Facebook a photograph of his water bottle lodged in the ceiling of the plane.

“The picture shows my water bottle stuck in the ceiling of the airplane, next to where I hit,” he wrote in a post on May 22.

Mr Kessler, who had been travelling with his family, said he suffered a broken neck, while his wife “got the worst of it and has a broken back”.

Despite both being in “a lot of pain” and awaiting test results at a hospital in Bangkok, he said the family is in “good spirits” and that his children were unharmed.

“Clearly things could have been worse and we feel blessed,” he said.

Also among those on board was Singaporean Bobby Chin, a former member of the Council of Presidential Advisers. He told The Straits Times that he and his wife were both injured during the incident.

Australian Teandra Tukhunen said she was abruptly woken up when she was “thrown to the roof and then to the floor”.

Speaking to British news outlet Sky News at Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, she said that the ordeal happened “pretty much immediately” after the seatbelt sign came on, leaving her with little time to fasten her seatbelt.

The 30-year-old, who had her arm in a sling, said: “It was just so quick, over in a couple of seconds and then you’re just shocked. Everyone’s pretty freaked out…The pilots saved our lives.”

‘Thrown to the roof and then to the floor’: SQ321 passengers describe chaos on turbulence-hit flight

Uninjured passengers returned to Changi Airport via a special flight SQ9071 from Bangkok, which landed at around 5am on May 22. The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Another passenger, who was lying in a trolley in the same hospital, said: “I don’t think I’ll be flying again for a while,” adding that the ordeal was “quite scary”.

Recounting the incident, he described hearing a loud noise before things came crashing through the ceiling, water began spilling everywhere and people started crying.

“It wasn’t a fun end to the journey,” he said. He added that he was in “a lot of pain”, and felt even worse after word of the dead passenger sank in.

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SIA has since brought 131 passengers and 12 crew members to Singapore through a relief flight early in the morning of May 22.

‘Thrown to the roof and then to the floor’: SQ321 passengers describe chaos on turbulence-hit flight

The arrival of passengers who were on board SQ321 at Changi Airport on May 22. The Straits Times/Asia News Network

The father of a Singaporean passenger told ST on May 22 at Singapore Changi Airport that his 22-year-old son had been on the aircraft with his girlfriend when the turbulence hit.

His son had said he was “thrown all over the place”, but was all right save for a few knocks, said the 57-year-old, who works in the logistics industry and wanted to be known only as Mr Chew.

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.

TAGS: Singapore Airlines, turbulence

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