Ethiopian Airlines Hijacking First Person Account: ‘It Was Hell’

Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Lake Geneva, Switzerland

By Paul Riegler on 19 February 2014
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A passenger on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 posted an account of his experience.  The flier, a 25-year-old male sitting in economy, posted the story on the reddit website the following day and verified his identity with his baggage tag showing the flight and date.

Unlike what has been portrayed in the news media, the flight, he wrote, “was hell.”  While hijackings have been portrayed in movies in various forms, it’s nonetheless difficult to imagine what it is like to go through such an experience.

He woke up close to midnight when he heard oxygen masks deploying.  There was some degree of confusion in the cabin because apparently the masks were not needed.  All of a sudden “an angry voice” over the public address system ordered passengers to “sit down, put your masks on” because the air supply was being cut off.

It was at that point that the passenger realized that the plane had been hijacked.  Here is what he wrote:

“I felt very lightheaded and quickly decided to put on the oxygen mask…. Quickly after that, the plane suddenly started dropping down for about eight seconds then went fast back up, then finally stabilized.  People were crying, yelling, praying.  I was in complete panic.”

The flight continued for six more hours without any word from the hijacker.  This gave passengers ample time to ponder their fate.  “Who was he [the hijacker], what were his intentions?” He let his thoughts run away with him.  He pessimistically assumed the worst, that there was no possibility of a safe landing.

“For the next six hours, I was imagining every possible outcome… from suddenly crashing into the ocean, to hitting a building, to crashing into another plane.”    He sent a goodbye text message to his family and girlfriend.  He held hands with his neighbor, an older Italian woman.

“Every single second of those six hours of uncertainty and soon-to-be death was a psychological torture. I broke down.”

While the flight had been scheduled to land at 4:40 a.m. in Rome, it was still airborne at 5:30 a.m.  Eventually, the plane landed.  “Is this true? Is it a miracle?”

He was crying as the plane landed, and many of the passengers applauded.  The Swiss treated the passengers kindly, offering sandwiches, hot chocolate, and counseling.   “I’m still in a state of shock,” he concluded. “I hope none of you have to experience that.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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