“Fasten your seat belts now! Put your seats upright”. These were the words shouted by the cabin crew as they made their way down the aisle. Sounded stressed, these exact words woke many of the passengers up, including Hayley and myself, on the JetStar flight 3K 395 from Singapore to Hong Kong.
Feeling confused, I looked at my watch and it was 18.00. I thought this was just about halfway of our journey surely they normally don’t wake people up just for a bit of turbulent.
Still half asleep, an crackly announcement from the pilot, who was also sounding a bit stressed started to say, “apology to everyone, we are making an emergency landing at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam in 20 minutes because of a technical problem of the aircraft”. Adrenaline started pumping around my body and I became fully alert. The pilot reassured us that it was a precautionary measure to ensure our safety. All of us were left wondering what was going on.
The cabin crew went up to the passengers who were seating at the emergency exit rows and taught them how to open the emergency doors. We we’re seating at the row behind and saw all the actions. The crew also said, “just in case you see fire outside the emergency door, don’t use it! Just use the ones at the front and the back. Does anyone want to swap seats now? If not you’d need to help opening the doors”.
So, okay shit was happening to the plane and we had no clue what was going on. The facts started to sink in and I just grasped the gravity of the situation (haha, no puns intended!) All we knew was the plane was making a rapid descent from 30,000 fts to a much lower altitude way faster than it would normally be, gliding towards the orange sunset above the sky of Vietnam.
There was no commotions on the plane, people were certainly seated very quietly. I didn’t feel nervous or anything like that, just a bit concerned. Hayley and I were looking out of the window and admired the beauty of the sunset. As the plane descended closer to the clouds, bolts of lightning were crashing all around us and some of which were very close to the plane. Someone told us afterwards lightning bolts struck the wings. Well at least we were inside a Faraday’s cage (if you still remember your physics in the school days) so nothing really happened.
The Emergency Landing
After we emerged from the clouds, we saw the wet and rainy city of Ho Chi Minh from above. Houses were all lit up and the head lamps of the cars and scooters were lining up on the main roads just like some fairy lights at Christmas time.
At this very low altitude, the flaps on the wing weren’t risen up. So Hayley and I were expecting a very fast landing. We quickly looked at the safety cards at the back of the seat to refresh our memories on how to do a brace position.
Not long after the runway came into our sights. Then “bang” it touched down onto the ground. We saw fire engines with flashing red lights standing by close to the runway as we were speeding along it; and they were chasing behind us like Bruce Willies in the Die Hard film. The plane eventually came to a halt on the runway and the engines powered down. We now knew we were safely on the ground but not entirely out of danger as we knew fully well there may still be a risk of fire.
The fire engines finally caught up with the plane and the crew came out of the fire truck and shone their torches on to the engines to inspect if there was any problem with. I’m sure they were looking for fuel leaks or something that they may cause a fire.
For what it felt like years, the engines were allowed to be turned off. After which a tow truck came alone and towed the plane to a separate area of the airport. All along the way, the plane was escorted by many fire trucks.
Of course the pilot and the air hostesses reassured us that despite this was a “non-standard” landing, everything was “normal”. Finally, we were allowed to get off the plane with all our personal belongings. As we got off the plane, we saw there were many firemen and a lot of grumpy Vietnamese airport security personnel, who directed us onto the a bus.
The bus dropped us off in a separate area in the terminal, where we were panned in and being watched at by even more security guards dressed in the communist green uniforms.
This was how our long night in the airport began.
Have you experienced an emergency diversion when you were in the air? Comment below!