Passenger describes 'traumatic' flight to Cork during lightning strikes

Passenger describes 'traumatic' flight to Cork during lightning strikes
File photo.

A passenger who was on board a flight which landed in Cork Airport amid a lightning storm said it was "the most traumatic" flight she has ever experienced.

However, Mary Ryan praised the professionalism and expertise of the pilot and crew of the Aer Lingus flight from Birmingham, which was operated by Stobart Air.

The flight, which was due to depart at 9pm last Thursday, left Birmingham Airport at 12.20am amid challenging weather conditions.

"It was pretty awful [in Birmingham]. The rain was lashing down, the winds were quite high. It was not a pretty evening and obviously, it was pitch black as we all huddled on," Ms Ryan told C103's Cork Today show.

"We were told it would be a bit of a bumpy ride. As a seasoned traveller, because I travel most weekends on flights, this one will probably go down as the most traumatic."

Ms Ryan described the panic and confusion on board after the plane, an ATR turboprop aircraft, seemed to drop due to a loss of pressure midway through their journey.

File photo.
File photo.

"Halfway into the flight we lost some pressure or something and we took a bit of a dive. There was a streak of lightning we could see outside the window of the plane. At that point, you could hear people screaming."

She said passengers were vomiting and some flyers experienced panic attacks.

There was a poor woman across from me and she was just hurling into the sick bag. They were passing sick bags back.

"Although it was quite scary it became almost comical. A woman at the front got up to put her jacket on because she was going home at this point and had completely lost the plot. The staff had to run down to try and calm her down.

"I think some of the sick had splattered on different parts of the plane, it was on the crew while they were trying to calm her down. She wasn't for it. They were just so professional.

"Somebody else needed a bit of assistance before we got off the plane when we hit Cork and they had to bring on somebody to help somebody else off the plane as well because they'd taken a real full-blown panic attack as well."

File photo.
File photo.

Ms Ryan praised the staff of the flight for their patience and professionalism

"It really was the most memorable flight. It was quite shocking but again, the pilot was incredible. He was reassuring everybody when we were coming in to land that it was going to be less turbulent as we head into Cork.

"The staff were constantly up and down the plane seeing were we alright, they were taking the sick bags back. Thank God for their professionalism. Their training had kicked in trying to calm the masses and the woman at the front who was ready to jump out of the plane with a parachute, they calmed her down. It was pretty peaceful as we were getting off the plane, thank God."

Ms Ryan said their landing at Cork Airport was, unsurprisingly, "a bit rocky" but much smoother than their journey had been.

The landing was not too bad. It was a bit rocky, you're not expecting a fantastic, smooth descent when you do have such ferocious weather but the pilots know exactly what they're doing.

A Stobart Air spokesperson confirmed the flight experienced turbulence en route to Cork as a result of the weather conditions.

"We can confirm that flight EI3709 from Birmingham to Cork experienced turbulence when landing in Cork Airport due to adverse weather conditions. We apologise for any inconvenience or discomfort caused to our passengers."

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