What Happens When Pilots Don’t Pressurize Airplane Cabins?
By DeAnna Taylor
A common flying nightmare for many involves those yellow oxygen masks dropping down during your flight.
This nightmare came true on Thursday morning for 165 passengers and 5 crew members aboard a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Jaipur, India. Just 10 minutes into the flight, the masks fell and no one knew why. Passengers were left in the dark as to what was going on and what they should do for nearly 45 minutes. The cabin started to heat up and passengers complained of difficulty breathing. After this, the plane turned around to go back to Mumbai.
The pilots forgot to flip a switch that pressurized the plane’s cabin. As a result, nearly 30 passengers suffered headaches, ear pain, and nosebleeds. At least five people had to be taken to the hospital upon landing to be treated for barotrauma (an injury from differences in pressure) of the nose and ear. One doctor explained “most of them will have mild conductive deafness for some period of time” and shouldn’t fly for a week or so.
“My ears were ringing, I was extremely uncomfortable and I thought this is it,” Joel D’Souza, a passenger on the flight, told the Mumbai Mirror. “People started bleeding from the nose and people felt headaches and pain in their ears. And then the situation started easing as the time to land got closer, even though the cabin was still destabilised.”
“Nobody would have known what was happening if that lady hadn’t gotten up to confront the crew,” he continued. “It would have been worse if there were children. The least that the crew could have done is kept flyers calm by announcing what was happening.”
It wasn’t until the plane landed that passengers were told what happened. Most passengers were put on a new flight to Jaipur.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is investigating the incident and the cockpit crew has been suspended until the investigation is complete.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.