A plane full of passengers shared a harrowing experience when their oxygen masks dropped during a false emergency. At least two passengers suffered panic attacks and many were shaken by the event which confused even the flight crew.
Passengers on Air New Zealand Flight NZ5 were left shaken after an in-flight incident created several moments of panic. During the Auckland-bound flight from Las Angeles, the oxygen masks suddenly deployed midflight and a warning blared over the intercom informing passengers saying, “This is an emergency. This is an emergency. Put on your mask,” according to Morgan Kelly who shared her story with the New Zealand Herald.
The flight was in the middle of a descending about 7,000 feet to avoid some mild turbulence when the event occurred, shocking even the flight crew.
Kelly noted that the flight had mostly an uneventful flight with minimal turbulence and indicated that at least two passengers experienced panic attacks, with one person collapsing in the plane’s aisle.
According to the Herald, the masks should not have deployed as no apparent loss of pressurization occurred and while the masks can deploy during sudden drops in elevation, this drop was not pronounced.
After a few minutes of silence, the captain shared that they’d performed their checks and that nothing was wrong. Since they were 3 hours away from Auckland still there was no airport to divert to and they had to continue on to their final destination.
The Herald notes in a statement from Captain David Morgan, the chief operational integrity and safety officer for Air New Zealand, that masks were automatically deployed as the plane descended from 34,000 feet to 27,000 feet. He went on to say, “We are sorry for the alarming wakeup call on this flight. This was not an emergency situation and the oxygen masks were not required. While our cabin crew and pilots worked quickly to reassure everyone on board, we know it was distressing for our customers.”
The plane landed without further incident and cause of the fault remains under investigation.