Misinterpreted conversation panics Southwest Airlines passenger

Published on : Friday, November 15, 2013

Southwest AirlinesApparently, a minor mistake snowballed into a major controversy. A private conversation between the pilot and a flight attendant was overheard because the PA system was switched on by mistake. As his plane made a rapid descent to normalize cabin pressure, a Southwest Airlines pilot went on the plane’s loudspeaker and seemingly told passengers the aircraft was going down.

 
“At first it sounded like someone was coming over the PA to talk. Then it sounded like shots through the cabin, twice, back to back,” passenger Grace Stroud told CNN. “Seconds later, the panicked captain said, ‘We’re in trouble; we’re going down.'”The flight attendants then began securing the bins, she told “CNN Newsroom” in a separate interview. One told the captain to deploy the oxygen masks.

 
“I’m sure everybody went through their private moments,” Stroud said. “My moment was, ‘OK, so this is how I’m going to die,’ and ‘At least it will be quick.'”Another passenger, Shelley Wills, told CNN affiliate WTVD that the pilot made the remarks as the plane went into a nosedive when it neared the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.”He said, ‘We’re going down.’ And everyone is looking around like, ‘Is this a joke? Is he serious?’ And then you felt the nosedive.”

 
Soon after, the Boeing 737 leveled out and made an emergency landing at the Raleigh airport.Asked about the WTVD report, a Southwest spokeswoman said it was inaccurate.
“Our pilot said he was descending to 10,000 feet. The report was not accurate from this customer. We landed safely,” spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger told CNN.But in an e-mail the airline sent Stroud, it acknowledged what Stroud suspected may have happened.

 
“As the captain was communicating his plan with the flight attendants, he inadvertently activated the PA system in the cabin,” the e-mail said. “We sincerely regret any confusion caused by the relay of the information.”Southwest Airlines Flight 3426 had taken off from Tampa, Florida, and was headed to Raleigh. As it approached its destination, the pilot noticed a loss of cabin pressure — prompting him to make a earlier-than-usual descent.

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