Passengers of Singapore Airlines describe horrifying turbulence: 'Very dramatic drop'

The flight was cruising at 37,000 ft when it plunged over 6000 ft in 5 minutes

Untitled design - 1 The Singapore Airline flight SG321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport. (Right) The mangled interiors of the flight | Reuters

A day after a Singapore Airlines flight from London to Singapore encountered severe turbulence causing the death of a 71-year-old man, passengers of the airplane opened up about the harrowing experience which saw the aircraft drop over 6,000 ft in 5 minutes.

The flight Boeing 777-300ER was cruising at 37,000 feet over Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin when it hit turbulence. The meal service was underway in the flight when it rapidly plunged before climbing several hundred feet, then repeated the dip and ascent, for about 90 seconds.

According to passengers, it was a very normal flight until "all hell broke loose". Andrew Davies, a passenger, told CNN that it had been a perfectly normal flight when the seatbelt sign came on. "The plane just felt like it dropped. It probably only lasted a few seconds but I remember vividly seeing shoes and iPads and iPhones and cushions and blankets and cutlery and plates and cups flying through the air and crashing to the ceiling. The gentleman next to me had a cup of coffee, which went straight all over me and up to the ceiling," Davies said.

Another passenger described how the plane started tilting up and shaking and those who were not wearing their seatbelts were launched to the ceiling. "Suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing a seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling, some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it, they hit the places where lights and masks are, and broke straight through it," 28-year-old student Dzafran Azmir told Reuters.

He added that people from across the aisle hit the ceiling and landed back down in "really awkward positions". "People, like, getting massive gashes in the head, concussions," he added. 

Azmir added that the whole thing was really quick, which was why nobody could respond to it. "People didn’t have time to react and there were passengers in the plane bathrooms and aircrew still standing when the turbulence hit," he added.

Many elderly passengers were severely hurt, with one woman ending up with a gash on her head covered in blood. One woman was screaming in agony as another man, who was badly injured, had to lie on the floor for the remainder of the flight.

Images from the plane show the mangled ceiling panel and piping while floors were littered with cups and utensils.

There were 211 passengers including many Australians, British and Singaporeans, and 18 crew onboard the flight. The injured 31 people were taken to a hospital in Bangkok, where the flight made an emergency landing, for treatment. Singapore Airlines said it was working with Thai authorities to provide medical assistance to passengers.

The deceased is 73-year-old Geoff Kitchen, from Britain. He was described as “always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity” by the Thornbury Musical Theatre Group (TMTG), an establishment where he worked for over 35 years.

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong posted a video message. "On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased. We also deeply apologize for the trauma experienced by all passengers and crew members on this flight,” he said.

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport said in a statement that it was investigating the situation involving flight SQ321 and the US National Transportation Safety Board is sending personnel to Singapore to help support the investigation.

Meanwhile, more than 140 passengers and crew from the flight finally reached Singapore on a relief flight Wednesday morning.


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp