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Passenger tells of scary emergency landing


iol travel jan 5 CT Emirates_9482A

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Currently, Emirates flies to Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. Picture: CINDY WAXA

Passengers on Emirates flight EK773 to Dubai heard two bangs, and then a third, as the plane levelled out in the air and its landing gear failed to retract minutes out of Cape Town on Wednesday.

“We thought we were goners, to be quite honest. We didn’t know what was happening. There were terrible crunching noises,” British tourist Carol Ann Maxwell told the Cape Times.

Maxwell said she had wept and held her daughter, Kaley Ann’s hand.

The flight left Cape Town for Dubai at 1.55pm and returned to Cape Town at 3.20pm after a technical problem developed with the aircraft’s landing gear, Emirates regional manager Fouad Caunhye said. “At no point was the safety of the 243 passengers or crew at risk.”

Passengers said airline staff had told them after the third “bang” that the plane would turn back, but many passengers complained that they were left in the dark after this.

“When the wheels were supposed to go in we heard a loud thump, and we all knew something was wrong. Everyone just looked at each other nervously,” said Harriet Lowe, who was travelling alone to London via Dubai.

For the next hour and a half the plane circled over the Indian Ocean, apparently to jettison fuel before landing, but at the time many passengers did not know what was happening.

“I thought: ‘What if it’s an emergency landing over the sea?’” Maxwell said.

“We had to fly at an altitude of 6 000 feet so the fuel would evaporate,” passenger Melanie Sheldon said.

Passengers would be put on a replacement flight today, Caunhye said. An investigation was under way.

The city’s Disaster Risk Management spokesman, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, said the pilot had noticed an undercarriage mechanical failure at 2.37pm, and the city had launched a disaster relief plan and emergency services were dispatched to the scene.

“While the plane was experiencing the difficulties in the air, an emergency landing area was being prepared.”

Solomons-Johannes said the aircraft had circled in the air until the emergency runway was ready. “We offered everyone on board trauma counselling once they landed,” he said.

Fire and Rescue spokesperson Theo Layne said 11 fire engines had been deployed, along with six rescue cars.

Sheldon said her four-year-old son had not eaten since 10am. “I’m actually disgusted by Emirates. I’m exhausted and hungry. Nobody’s been given any information,” she said.

Emirates had booked hotel accommodation for all passengers by the time they left the terminal building, but Sheldon said nothing had been communicated to the passengers of EK773.

Anna Erlank, travelling with three children, said she had not been worried but “irritated about not being able to fly”.

“My children are hungry, hungry, hungry. There’s no consideration for children or mothers travelling with children – it’s a free-for-all,” Erlank said.

“It’s not about the flight turning around. It’s about the service after (the flight was grounded).” - Cape Times

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david, wrote

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03:01pm on 5 January 2012
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perhaps feed your own kids!!

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naz, wrote

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02:53pm on 5 January 2012
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Kevin, how can you and your 'friends' comment and say it seems like an 'Arab thing'(no ways that i cover up for them) but if you do some research you'll find that the West have a almost 50% share in all major airlines around the world. Friendly suggestion is that you don't say things if you not sure of what you know. Thank God for the mercy shown on all the passengers and crew.

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Debbi, wrote

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02:34pm on 5 January 2012
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Seriously; I don't see why this is news! The crew followed all procedures and made all the right decisions. No one was put at risk, yet the reporter tries so hard to exaggerate the situation. These malfunctions happen do happen, as with all other electronic equipment. People must learn to give credit where its due. As for hunger esp for moms like me, try carrying some finger foods and snacks. You can't always rely on someone to feed your kids!

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DougieB, wrote

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02:29pm on 5 January 2012
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"the plane circled in the air until the emergency runway was ready"???? Lucky they weren't in a rush then.

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Kenny, wrote

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02:16pm on 5 January 2012
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Folks.No doubting Emirates or any other airlines service.But it is the service that is demonstrated in a bad situation that shows your true character and not the service when all is fine.This is the criteria you need to use when distinguishing good service from bad service.Applies to any business out there.

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Shakes, wrote

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02:10pm on 5 January 2012
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People will always complain no matter what. In this instance thier lives were saved and they are offered accomodation for the inconvinience but they are still disgusted. Maybe next time they should opt for a crash rather than to be safe. People like this disgust me. You should just be greatful you got a chance to feed your hungry child again.

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Anonymous, wrote

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01:53pm on 5 January 2012
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When are you people going to understand that airlines do not care who is sitting in their seat, they only care about the money that was payed for that seat. The reason something went wrong with that aircraft is because as soon as it arrives at its home base the turn around time is plus minus 6 hours. Now that is no where near enough time to complete an entire health check on said vehicle. So I state again the airlines are to blame, and for those that recieved poor service, are you really supprised? The powers that be are more worried about how much money they will loose over this whole debarkle, rather than buying you and your kids a happy meal! People are no longer people in the corporate eye's, they are merely dollar signs!

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Mona, wrote

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01:33pm on 5 January 2012
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Aren't things like that supposed to be checked before flying?? Just asking.

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Ashley, wrote

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01:29pm on 5 January 2012
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Safety is by far the top priority. I think the media may have also exaggerated the "hunger" issue, simply by asking passengers if there was anything they felt needed to be done better. Also people in a state of shock tend to say things they don't really mean (post traumatic shock disorder). Just out of interest, one Australian who saved a number of co-passengers in a plane crash into the ocean off the Barrier Reef a few years ago, used very harsh language (which he regrets) to get the passengers not to give up swimming to shore, then ended up punching the ambulance guys who tried to get him to hospital. It was all totally out of character, but a result of the post traumatic stress. He even promised his girlfriend that if she didn't give up on swimming to land he would marry her, which he stuck to, but sadly ended in divorce. He also lost all his hair (from a full head of hair). A TV documentary has been done on this, may be available as a podcast, if you google it.....

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Anonymous, wrote

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01:29pm on 5 January 2012
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im a gold skywards member with emirates and flying with them tonight. no worries at all actually cant wait to experience flying with them once again

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Warren, wrote

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01:29pm on 5 January 2012
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Good god, but these people sound like Americans. We want we want, lets sue!!! Get a life woman, at least your kids can eat another meal and weren't scraped off the ground.

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Anonymous, wrote

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01:12pm on 5 January 2012
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yes, we had bad experience with Qatar airways as well! but it is the airlines responsibility to look after the passengers for the duration..even post landing when they (the airline) have defaulted!

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:57pm on 5 January 2012
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Have to agree with Erlank @11:37

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:47pm on 5 January 2012
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well done to the pilot for landing the aircraft safely. can u really expect 5 star service just after uve had an emergency landing?? being thankful that u have survived is enough. i think that you are wrong kevin, i have flewn with emirates,ithihad,saudi air, have never experienced bad service. i know egypt air is known for not having the best of service but its not a "arab airline" thing.

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:41pm on 5 January 2012
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Just be thankful you landed safely, food would be the last thing on my mind....

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:32pm on 5 January 2012
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Be thankful that you landed safely. Food should be the last thing to be complaining about. Can't believe that a passenger was irritated about not being able to fly! Your safety was taken into consideration! You can fly on another date because you're still alive!!!

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:24pm on 5 January 2012
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be glad u alive .....ai some ppl dont think ...

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Rabbit, wrote

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12:15pm on 5 January 2012
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Yes I agree, you at the airport, surely you can afford to buy your kids a snack? Youmust be travelling with a VISA card so that cant be the reason you not buying them food. Unfortunately malfunctions do happen, you just lucky to be alive. Sure they also all got put up at a hotel if they had to stay the night?

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Kirsten, wrote

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12:07pm on 5 January 2012
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@ @Erlank, its the (obviously foreign to you) notion, that companies that inconvenience their customers, need to make up for it. For example, if a flight is delayed, and a connecting flight missed, the airline puts you up in a hotel, and provides meal vouchers. Perhaps you prefer the shoddy service most South Africans accept?

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:07pm on 5 January 2012
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Wow - I'd be saying thank God we got back down safely!!! Silly people!!

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