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SIA zooms in on noisy plane door, offers refunds

EVENTFUL FLIGHT: Student Chris Milbourn was seated just a few metres from the problematic door, which appeared to be leaking.


    Jan 08, 2014

    SIA zooms in on noisy plane door, offers refunds

    THE sound of air rushing into the plane cabin through a problematic door was so loud on the harrowing flight from London to Singapore that two strangers had to text each other for comfort.

    Mr Chris Milbourn, 18, and the man seated beside him kept each other calm throughout the ordeal on Singapore Airlines (SIA) Flight 317 by typing messages on their phone to show the other.

    That was how they communicated, even as oxygen masks dropped from the cabin ceiling and the plane dipped to 10,000 feet (3,000m) due to cabin depressurisation.

    "We couldn't even hear each other, or the pilot," said Mr Milbourn, a student, who was seated a few metres from the door. It appeared to be leaking, causing a loud noise that filled the lower deck of the A380 plane.

    The door was the reason the plane had to be diverted in the early hours of Monday to Baku airport in Azerbaijan, where passengers were left stranded for over 13 hours. It will be removed and examined thoroughly by SIA and a team of specialists flown to Baku airport.

    "The door will either be repaired or replaced before the plane returns to Singapore, where it will undergo further inspection," said an SIA spokesman.

    As passengers arrived bleary-eyed at Changi Airport yesterday afternoon, after a gruelling 24-hour journey from London, they were told that they would be given a refund for the flight from London to Singapore.

    Customers with missed connecting flights were rebooked on other flights and put up at hotels for the night.

    Mr Chan Jun Chong and his wife had specifically taken the flight from London as Mr Chan, 30, wanted to take the Airbus. The newlyweds ended up arriving 32 hours later than they would have on another flight. "It was extended, but not happily," quipped Mrs Ashley Chan, 28.

    Passengers were not the only ones left in a tizzy.

    Teacher Debra Lim, 42, had wanted to receive her parents at the airport yesterday. When she did not get a call from them an hour after their scheduled landing time, she got worried. She was also unable to speak to an operator on SIA's hotline.

    "It's terrible to have to talk to an automated system at a time like that," she said.

    Housewife Annetta Muller, 58, who was at the airport to receive two friends, was disappointed that she was unable to get updated information at the airport.

    "It seems that SIA's Facebook page is more updated than their staff," she said.