Emergency landing on BA in Houston

Aug 27th, 2004, 04:57 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,798
Emergency landing on BA in Houston

If you are from the Houston area, you might have heard that British Airways made an emergency landing on Aug. 11 at IAH. I would like to share with you that experience, as the article in the Houston Chronicle did not give a very accurate account. At the same time I must commend BA and the Houston Fire Department for their great work.

On Aug. 11, I was to fly IAH/LGW/GVA. Our plane took off from Houston and immediately we heard an awful sound coming from the left engine. Later I learned that witnsses on the ground saw smoke coming out of the engine right as we took off. About 2 minutes into the flight the captain calmly announced that we had engine trouble and we were going back to Houston. About a minute later I began to smell smoke. Within the next several minutes the plane filled up with a white, hazy smoke that made me feel sick at my stomach. It was very hard to breathe, as I am asthmatic. The captain continued talking to us in calming tones and assuring us we will be landing immediately. He went on to apologize for the smoke and said if we can't breathe, put a hanky over your face or put your head down between your knees. I chose the latter, although I still felt sick.

I did not think of this at the time, but we had no time for a fuel dump, so the captain had the very challenging job of landing this plane safely with a full load of fuel. I remained curled up in a ball with my head between my knees until I felt the plane touch down. I then raised my head and the Fire Dept. was already spraying the engine with foam as we were still rolling to a stop. Once the plane stopped, 3 things happened at once: 1. The pilot announced, "This is an emergency situation, EVACUATE, EVACUATE, EVACUATE!!!!" 2. An alarm bell sounded 3. By the time the captain finished the order to evacuate, the flight attendants had opened the exit doors and the slides popped out. Then everyone ran to the doors and jumped on the slides. In the meantime, the Fire Dept. was still dousing the engine with foam, but some firemen were at the bottom of the slides helping to catch people. The slide was very steep and scary, and you go down it really fast, and of course, you land on the concrete runway. Thankfully a fireman caught me and I wasn't injured. In the end, some people had bumps and bruises from the slide, but nobody was badly hurt.

I must commend BA for their efforts. The flight attendants remianed calm and professional throughout. Once we were on the ground, several of us were crying (myself included) but they came around and hugged us and reminded us we are safe now. They took us into the airport lounge and made arrangements for either hotels or rebooking on a later flight. I went around to all of the flight attendants to personally commend them. One flight attendant said to me, "Well, I might have seemed calm, but I almost sh*t in my pants!!" I got a good laugh from that, and I was very impressed that although they must have been as afraid as we were, they still remained so cool and took charge.

Once we were safely on the ground,my first thought was to cancel my trip and drive back to Austin. But after I had some time to think about it, I decided to take the next plane and carry on. It was hard to get on another plane after this ordeal, but I was afraid that if I didn't fly again right away, I would never again. Once on the next plane, I was very afraid during take-off, but after that I was OK. And I did pretty well on the flight home.

Friends, the next time you fly, I beg of you to please listen to the safety instructions. Although this occurrence is rare, you never know when you will use this info. If you know a Houston firefighter, please give him/her a hug and them that all of us on BA 2024 say thanks. And if you know a BA employee who was on that plane, tell them it was a job very well done.

I will post a trip report soon, but I thought this deserves it's own thread. Happy and safe travels to all.
P_M is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 05:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,114
How frightening that must have been, PM! I'm so glad that everything turned out so well, however, and that you still took your trip.

I'm from Houston and agree that we have an awesome Fire Department. I will be sure to give one of them a hug the next time I'm in town.

Thanks for posting your experience for any of us who might find ourselves in a similar situation one day. Looking forward to your trip report.
Statia is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 07:01 AM
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WOW! What a story and thanks so much for sharing.

Good luck to you PM.
Aug 27th, 2004, 07:12 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 20,113
Glad everything worked out well for you and good to know that Houston has such a professional and efficient fire department (DH flies in and out of Houston on a regular basis).
seetheworld is offline  
Aug 29th, 2004, 04:45 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 211
What an interesting post! And frightening. Thought it'd be good to top for others to read...and keep in mind.
arjay is offline  
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