Are you a nervous flyer?
It may be a common anxiety for many of us, but thankfully, the vast majority of flights take off and land without a hitch.
Hong Kong singer-actor William Chan is one of the unlucky few who was involved in an aviation incident, which he revealed in a recent episode of Chinese reality show Camping Life 2.
The topic for discussion was "sharing the happiness or bad luck in life", and the 37-year-old discussed the latter — when a flight he was on back in 2018 had to return to the airport following a bomb threat.
William said he was on the flight from Paris for two to three hours when he heard the captain repeating a number codeword over the intercom.
"When I saw the flight attendants run to the cockpit and run back, I was scared at that moment," he continued.
William was seated next to his manager, but recalled that nobody dared to say a word or ask what was happening. Things got worse when his friends pointed outside his window and screamed, but William lowered his head, not daring to look.
A flight attendant allegedly reassured them: "It's okay, it's the oil discharge." He later explained that it was a measure to lose weight before the flight landed.
According to SimpleFlying.com, flights commonly dump fuel to reach below their maximum permitted landing weight when they need to return to an airport shortly after departure.
William recounted that the flight then made a sharp turn and banked suddenly.
"When it was descending, everyone was afraid. The centrifugal force [was strong], and it was the first time I felt that I was going to die," he continued. "At that moment, everyone suddenly quieted down — they were quiet after shouting."
After landing, the plane did not go to the airport terminal, according to William.
"I saw fire engines down there, over 10 of them," he said. "I saw Swat (special weapons and tactics, formerly special weapons assault team) cars, at least 20 or 30 cars. All Swat [personnel] with dogs, standing next to our plane, dozens of people in a row."
Despite asking what was happening, William and the other passengers did not get a response and were allegedly stuck in the plane for another two hours or so, feeling panicked and isolated.
Only after they were allowed to disembark did William find out why the plane had to return to the airport.
"When the plane took off, someone called the police to say there were bombs on the plane," he explained.
While he did not mention which airline and flight he was on, it is suspected that he was on Air China flight 876 which took off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for Beijing on July 26, 2018 and returned after 30 minutes — despite William claiming it took two to three hours — due to "suspected terrorist information".
The incident with Flight 876 turned out to be a false alarm caused by a misunderstanding between a passenger who arrived late for his flight and Air China, France's state service for airport security explained.
"A passenger who was delayed due to an abandoned suitcase telephoned the company saying there had been a bomb at the terminal," they said. "The person he talked to thought he said that there was a bomb on the plane."
The passengers were given a replacement flight to Paris at 9pm that evening, eight-and-a-half hours after their original flight was scheduled to take off.
William concluded about the incident: "I felt very unlucky at the time, but when I look back, I think I was very lucky."
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