Explosions on the airplane – Did we get hijacked?

Hey everyone, it’s story time! I´m a flight attendant with over 8 years of experience in a couple of airlines from the Gulf, and I´m a pretty chill guy, I always maintain control of my emotions, so I never freaked out onboard, even when I had to restrain an intoxicated customer or that time I had to deal with a stroke onboard. The only time that I got really scared was on this occasion when I heard two distinct explosions on the airplane. So, picture this: I was on an A380 out of Los Angeles, just an ordinary day in the life of a flight attendant. The plane was on the runway, ready to take off when, suddenly, BOOM, BOOM! Not one, but two explosions rocked the entire plane!

Believe me when I say, the panic happened really fast. My heart pounded in my chest as I looked at my colleagues, and we all tried to keep our composure but felt the emotional tension building. I mean, in-flight explosions on a double-decker A380? Nothing can prepare you for that.

My mind raced to worst-case scenarios

I immediately thought that we had been hijacked! The aircraft came to a complete stop. I could sense that the pilots too freaked out at that loud noise and pulled the brakes for an instant. But after less than a minute, the aircraft continued taxing.

To compose myself, I thought: “Maybe it was a tire that exploded!” But the noise was too loud, and there were two distinct explosions. So I thought that the chances of two tires exploding in an interval of a few seconds were almost nonexistent.

As flight attendants, we are trained to deal with emergencies, but this was unlike anything we had seen before. Plus, not knowing the reason for these noises, made everything more difficult.
At the time, the passengers were as surprised as we were.
I kept up as brave a face as I could and reassured myself that everything was under control… But let me tell you, it wasn’t easy holding on a confident face when my heart was pounding in my ears.

I started to see the really worried faces of the customers in front of me, and a couple of kids started to cry. A woman close to the window seat two rows in front of me, started to shout: “What happened?” “What were that noises?” “Stop the plane!” and the passengers in that area started to look at each other and started to stand up during taxi.

I turned over to my colleagues who were as shocked as I was, and I could see a huge question mark on top of their heads. I had to do something so I looked straight at the customers who were about to stand up and shout: ” Please sit down and fasten your seatbelt! There is nothing to worry about!” “Seat down and listen to the public announcement! The Captain is about to make an announcement updating us on the situation!” “The aircraft is still moving so the is nothing to worry about!” ” Seat down and fasten your seatbelt!”

Thankfully, the A380 continued to taxi smoothly and took off. Every second of the climb tho, seemed to last an eternity. The customers kept looking at us with their inquisitive, hungry, and worried faces. They kept looking at me in particular because I was the one shouting at them! Finally, after what seemed like an infinity, the pilot’s voice finally came on speakers, in a mixture of anger and concern. He said: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I’m sure you all felt that unexpected jolt during takeoff, and I want to take a moment to explain what just happened.

As we were preparing to take off from Los Angeles, two military jets were conducting a training exercise in the vicinity. Unfortunately, their flight path overlapped with ours, and that’s when the explosive sounds occurred. There were no explosions on the airplane!

I can assure you that there was no damage to our aircraft, and we were never in any immediate threat. The military jets were simply performing maneuvers with afterburners engaged, which resulted in loud noises and vibrations.

I must admit, it was quite an unusual sight for us as well, and we immediately communicated with the air traffic control to clarify the situation. Rest assured, our air traffic controllers are highly trained professionals who handle such situations with precision.

While it may have been a scaring experience, I want to assure you that our flight crew is well-prepared for any unexpected events. The cabin crew members are trained extensively to handle various situations, ensuring your safety and comfort throughout the journey.

Safety is our top priority, and we have already taken all necessary steps to ensure a smooth and secure flight. Our aircraft is in excellent condition, and we have been cleared for a safe ascent to our cruising altitude”.

So it turned out that there were two military planes flying on the same runway as us. Can you believe it? These planes had used afterburners to create those heart-stopping explosions on the airplane we just heard.

As the A380 took off into a high-flying altitude, the captain decided to lighten the mood a bit. we hear the PA (Public Announcement): ” Ladies and Gentlemen, we understand that it might not have been the typical start to your flight, so I’ll give you all a few moments to grab a pen and paper. If you feel the need to file a complaint about the unexpected air show, we’ll be happy to collect them later! In a 30-year career, this is the first time that that happened to me too”. And he goes ahead making a funny nervous laugh.

“Thank you for your understanding, and I want to personally express my gratitude for the cooperation of our exceptional cabin crew members during this unusual event. They’ve been trained to handle these situations calmly and efficiently, and their expertise ensures that you are in safe hands.

I want to extend my apologies for any inconvenience caused by the unexpected event earlier.” then he went on talking about safety and how it was one of the top priorities, and that we were doing our best to ensure the rest of the flight was pleasant and safe and blah, blah, blah…

And he closed with:
Thank you for choosing to fly with us today. We’ll be working hard to make it an unforgettable flight – for all the right reasons, of course!” Ahahaha great ending!

In the cabin…

Then we started walking through the building with pen and paper ready to write down our “complaints” about the unexpected airshow. In a way that was a great move, and a great Captain! We turned that into a fun activity! While in the cabin we started to hear comments of the passengers and some were still a bit concerned. Some others were really fun!

I remember handing the paper to an old couple. I approached them, and as soon as I handed the paper to the older man, he asked: “Do you have underwear size L?”

And I answered: “What? Are you asking me if I wear underwear size L?

Him: “No, if you sell them onboard, or have large diapers because I just s*it myself!” ahah

Me: “Sorry, finished! I just used the last one for me!”

His wife playfully punched the man on his shoulder and appeared embarrassed, covering her eyes with one hand as she tried to avoid making eye contact with me. That was cute!????

We cracked up like everyone else around! That helped to smooth the situation and release the tension that built up.

I remember going through it with pen and paper, still trying to make up my mind about what just happened.

When I wrote my “complaint” I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation’s absurdity. Who would have thought that explosions on an airplane could be so exciting? Only in the world of aviation!

My crew’s reaction…

You know, being a flight attendant isn’t just about serving snacks and drinks. It’s about staying calm under pressure, even when things get weird or scary. Even the camaraderie among the crew was crucial in this unusual event. We leaned on each other and laughed to release the tension, reminding ourselves that we were in this together. In the beginning, some crew thought that we were hijacked. Another crew thought that the two explosions on the airplane were caused by someone who made himself explode onboard, and she was scared to go in the cabin and look at pieces of body spread all around (ok, that would have been traumatic). Others thought about a wheel popping like I thought too. And another crew was ready to open a slide and already screening in the cabin who could have helped her with the evacuation.

It’s moments like these that make our work special and unforgettable. Sure, we didn’t sign up for explosions on the airplane, but we did sign up for the thrill of flying and the thrill of travel. And boy, have we seen it that day!

I had another passenger coming in the galley after the service and started to heavily flirt with us. It was crazy to see how people handled the stress that the situation provoked. We collected the comments of passengers in the cabin and among the papers there were kids’ drawings and among them, there was one drawing of a little boy seated not far from my jumpseat. The kid drew me as a hero, with the cape and mask too! I still hold that drawing and is one of my most precious possessions.

Flight Attendant drawing in uniform with a cape and hero mask and an airplane in the background, drawn by a kid after hearing two explosions on the airplane
In the end…

As a flight attendant, I’ve been on a fair amount of flights. From tough passengers to chaotic weather, every day brings new surprises. But this will stuck in my memory forever.

After that flight, we landed safely, and at disembarkation, I could not see an angry face. By the end of the flight, we received prices from passengers, seniors, and the flight deck. It was a team success, and we showed how we managed to keep it together and work as a team. And, once at the hotel, we showed how to celebrate together too! The crew gathered in the hotel lobby, ready for a great celebration. We shared stories, laughed, and relived the whole experience.

It was our way of releasing the stress of the experience, and a few beers helped make the conversation more enjoyable. And for some of the crew, it was more than just a few beers ahah.

To me, flying is not just a job; It’s fun, exciting, and a way of life.
And despite the twists and turns and unpredictability, I wouldn’t trade this job for anything in the world. Not even if the explosions on the airplane were real! Maybe I´m exaggerating now. But you know what I mean!:)
The point is that you never know what adventure you’ll be a part of up there in the sky, and that´s exciting!

Flight Attendant Nation

Contributor: James A.

Jump to ···· ✈