"It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced," one passenger said

By Char Adams
September 09, 2019 11:37 AM
Passengers run from Cayman Airways plane after emergency landing on Sunday
Jenn Chirico/Photography by Jennifer Lynn

Passengers on a Cayman Airways flight were evacuated from a plane on slides after the aircraft made an emergency landing over suspected smoke on board on Sunday, the airline announced in a statement.

After taking off from Grand Cayman, the New York-bound plane had been in the air for about an hour and a half that evening when a warning light indicated smoke in one of the plane’s cargo holds, according to the statement. Pilots made an emergency landing in Orlando, Florida, and the passengers’ flights were rescheduled for Monday.

“People in exit rows were to help, slides were deployed, we were instructed when on the ground to run as fast as we could from the plane,” one passenger, Jennifer Lynn, wrote in a Facebook post. “It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced.”

There were 103 passengers on the plane along with five crew members, according to the airline’s statement. No one was injured and officials said “there is no evidence at this time of any actual smoke being present in the cargo hold.”

Video footage after the landing showed passengers running from the plane. Another video showed them in a waiting area at the airport after the incident. Despite the panic, Lynn says two flight attendants, whom she identified as Sophia and Arianna, jumped into action and worked to calm the passengers.

“The flight crew was amazing … Arianna and Sophia did a great job keeping everyone on task,” Lynn says, noting that the captain told the passengers of the smoke warning about 12 minutes before the landing. “They were just starting dinner service when it happened, so [Arianna and Sophia] had to literally grab all trash in seven minutes and get everyone seated. They were amazing.”

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Cayman Airways plane after an emergency landing on Sunday

She adds: “They were compassionate and very understanding, but very focused on making sure we all were safe, quickly. I would love to thank the crew of Cayman Airways flight KX793. I would like to extend a very special thank you to Arianna and Sophia. Because of your quick thinking [and] clear and stern instructions, we are all safe today.”

No one was injured and airline officials said the aircraft has been removed from service.

“We are extremely mindful that this emergency landing and evacuation was a very distressing event,” said Cayman Airways president and CEO Fabian Whorms. “On behalf of Cayman Airways, I offer a most sincere apology to our passengers for having to experience this emergency landing and evacuation, which was necessary in the interest of the safety of our passengers and crew.”