SilkAir plane aborts landing following stand-off

The man (in striped shirt) is believed to have incited the commotion on a SilkAir flight that led to an aborted landing at Koh Samui airport in Thailand on June 2013.

KOH SAMUI - A stand-off between a male passenger and the cabin crew of a SilkAir flight led to an aborted landing at Koh Samui airport in Thailand last month.

Another passenger, Ms Faith Teo, 38, said that shortly before the plane was due to land, the man went forward and pulled the curtain leading to the cockpit open. A stewardess immediately stood between him and the door and told him firmly to return to his seat.

As a result of the commotion, the plane ascended instead of landing. The pilot later announced that he had to make a second attempt at landing. The plane finally landed 30 minutes later.

Madam Teo, a housewife, was on board the June 5 SilkAir flight to the island with a friend when she noticed a group of men talking to two stewardesses, who appeared to be explaining something to them calmly.

When the plane was about to land, the group raised their voices and gesticulated wildly.

Suddenly, a man in the group stood up and walked towards the cockpit.

Madam Teo said: "I was alarmed when I saw this. The plane ascended very steeply and there was a lot of tension. Children started crying and everyone else became very quiet."

Her travelling companion, housewife Lynn Chia, 31, also noticed the man who was causing the commotion.

She said: "The stewardess who was attending to him looked harassed."

After the plane landed, the passengers broke out in applause, relieved that they had landed safely, Madam Teo said.

She didn't think any action was taken against the man as he left the plane with the other passengers.

Criminal lawyer Rajan Supramaniam said that it would be up to the police to act if a complaint had been filed, but the case would not be in our jurisdiction since the plane landed in Thailand.

He said: "It could be a serious incident if the disorderly behaviour caused distress to other passengers and if their safety was in question."

Dispute

When contacted, a SilkAir spokesman said that the dispute between the man and cabin crew was regarding his child's seating arrangement.

Said the spokesman: "The parents of a child, who is over two years of age, expressed their request for the child to share a seat with them. In the interest of the child's safety, the request was not acceded to.

"As we place the highest priority on our passengers' safety, the landing was aborted to allow sufficient time for the child, the parents and crew to be seated for a safe landing.

"The passengers eventually complied to have the child securely fastened."

When told of SilkAir's response, Madam Teo felt the airline could have done more. She said: "I think more should have been done to send a clear signal to the man that his actions were unacceptable."

Previous incidents

April 22, 2013

A Russian man was accused of threatening to "blow up" a Singapore Airlines flight from Moscow to Singapore. In his defence, he said that the Russian word for "vomit" sounds like "blow up", and that this may have created a misunderstanding. He was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal.

May 2010

A drunk New Zealander was flying to Beijing, China, from Auckland, via Singapore, when he kicked up a big fuss after the cabin crew stopped serving him alcohol. He abused the flight attendants and smoked in the plane's toilet. When the plane landed in Singapore, he hurled expletives and injured the police officers who came for him. He was later jailed four weeks and fined $2,000.

December 2009

An Estonian passenger was fined $15,000 after his drunken behaviour forced a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Singapore to make an emergency stop in Dubai. He tried to kiss a passenger next to him as well as punched, kicked and bit others on board. He was fined for behaving in a drunk manner and putting the safety for an aircraft in danger.