The plane, which flew from Sturup airport outside of Malmö in southern Sweden on Friday evening, was ten minutes from its destination of Mallorca in Spain when smoke emerged from the cockpit.
“An airhostess on the verge of tears came and said that they had a technical problem,” said passenger Mattias Sonngård, to the Sydsvenskan newspaper.
“All we got to know was that the plane had been given permission for an emergency landing and that we should get into the emergency position with our heads between our knees.”
While it turned out that it was a broken television that caused the smoke, 23-year-old Sonngård explained that this information was never given to the passengers and that chaos ensued.
“It was total panic. People sat and screamed out that they didn’t want to die. The man in the seat behind me fainted and got help with the oxygen from another passenger. I asked an air hostess if we would crash on water or land. All I could think was that I didn’t want to drown – I wanted to die right away.”
When the plane eventually landed safely in Mallorca, flight staff still did not explain to the passengers what had happened, but rather, “sat on a bench and cried” according to Sonngård.
Johan Westin, head of Malmö Aviation, has since claimed that such a fault would never have caused a serious problem with the plane and the aircraft would easily have made the flight even if the screen had broken at takeoff.
He told the paper that the pilots were right to focus on landing the plane rather than informing the passengers, adding that he has “full respect to the fact that passengers became scared.”
Officials from Fritidsresor, Sweden’s largest tour operator criticized Malmö Aviation’s lack of information for the passengers affected.
“We understand that some of the passengers have experienced this as extremely unpleasant. Therefore, we want to ring around and check how everyone feels and how they experienced the onboard service,” a spokesman from the company told the paper.
“Sometimes it happens that people don’t receive sufficient information about what has happened. If you’re the least bit afraid of flying, it’s obviously an extremely unpleasant and distressing situation.”