What was meant to be one of Sharmla Chetty’s regular business trips to the US turned into a hair-raising experience for her on Sunday night.
Chetty, who is from Johannesburg, was on board SAA flight (SA209), from OR Tambo International Airport to Washington DC via Accra, Ghana when things went awry. The flight was stopped in Ghana for refueling when a catering truck operated by SAA’s service provider hit the aircraft door, damaging it.
Flight SA209 was then delayed for several hours.
Throughout this period, Chetty said the plane’s captain kept passengers updated on what was happening.
She said the captain notified passengers that he would use his discretion before deciding whether they should disembark or continue with the journey.
They were eventually informed that the door had been fixed and would be making their way to Washington.
Fifteen minutes after take off, however, there was a technical problem in the cockpit and the crew decided to do an emergency landing rather then continue with their journey, according to Traveller24.
“We were about 15 minutes in the air but before this, I could smell [something], I thought it must be the air conditioner… I also thought we were not flying up enough (sic).
“I then heard the announcement [about an emergency landing] and there was smoke in the cockpit by the captain (sic). We saw a lot of the crew running down the passage. They were giving us instructions to brace and put our heads down,” Chetty said.