AS IF I didn’t need something else to heighten my fear of flying, I stumbled upon an AMA (Ask Me Anything) post on Reddit, from a man around my age who, you know, was casually on his way from Ethiopia to Italy, when HIS PLANE WAS HIJACKED BY THE COPILOT.
Reddit user OK3n was enroute to Geneva, Switzerland, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, via Rome, when masks dropped from their compartments as the plane’s hijacker announced he was cutting off the oxygen. Within 10 hours of the hijacking, OK3n posted his story on Reddit and opened the forum up for others to ask about his experience. While the plane was able to land safely, his story still made me feel anxious:
IamA passenger on yesterday’s Hijacked plane from Ethiopian Airlines to Geneva. Contrary to news coverage, it was hell. AMA!
The plane was hijacked one hour after take-off. This is how it went down.
After entering the plane, I went to my seat: economy class, window-side and next to the right wing. As it was around midnight, I quickly fell asleep during take-off. I was waken up an hour later due to the sound of all the oxygen mask going down. I immediatly thought « what the… » I looked at my neighbor, she seemed as confused at me: the plane was not behaving oddly so I thought it was a simple technical glitch or somebody pressed the wrong button. Everybody looked at each other, thinking what’s going on. Suddenly, a deep and angry voice talked through the cabin radio: “SIT DOWN, PUT YOUR MASKS ON, I’M CUTTING THE OXYGEN”, three times. At this point, I realized that the situation is serious: someone is in the pilot cabin and has hijacked the plane.
Damn, yo. But then, comes this:
Quickly after that, the plane suddenly started dropping down for about 8 seconds then went fast back up, then finally stablized. People were crying, yelling, praying. I was in complete panic. Cold…I quickly took away the possibilty of landing safely. As I was looking throught the window, all I could see was dark. Dark up, dark down.
For the next 6 hours, I was imagining every possible outcome of this story: from suddenly crashing into the ocean, to hitting a building, to crashing into another plane, to landing and being killed as a martyr.
This was the part that REALLY tore me up:
At this point, I remember trying to send a SMS to my family and girlfriend « There is a problem with the plane. I love you, you are the best » on a 5% battery and stressing that another terrorist would see me and shoot me. There was no network, so I decided to shut down my phone and thought of restarting it just before we crashed, so the messages would eventually come through. I held hands the whole way with my seat neighboor, a very nice, simple older italian woman. Every single second of those 6 hours of uncertainty and soon-to-be death was a psychological torture. I broke down, let everything go, said goodbye, though of my family, of moments in the past, of who will inherit my stuff and much more.
It would be really ironic if the in-flight movie happened to be Captain Phillips. Too soon?
The psychological impact is not negligible, I’m still in a state of shock. I’m a lucky bastard, I hope none of you have to experience that.