A woman has claimed she and other passengers onboard a flight to Belfast “thought they were going to die” due to the high winds.
Loganair flight LM085 set off from Aberdeen yesterday with 20 passengers onboard, but hit turbulence as it prepared to land at Belfast City.
With Storm Barra battering Ireland particularly badly, the pilot decided to turn around and return to the Granite City.
But one woman, who is three months pregnant, slammed the airline’s handling of the incident and claimed passengers were left in “huge distress” for about 35 minutes as the plane was rocked by the winds.
She was also unhappy that the one cabin crew member remained seated, instead of checking on the passengers.
However, Loganair insisted they had acted properly, and said the cabin crew had been told to remain securely seated by the captain.
‘Thrown around like a washing machine’
The woman said: “There was turbulence as we were approaching Belfast, and it was getting pretty bad and everyone was getting shook-up about it.
“The plane felt like it was dropping downwards and I was off my seat at one point.”
“It was only after the pilot announced that we were going back that the crew member asked if everyone was OK after sitting at the back.
“We were just flying about for 15-20 minutes, nobody told us what was happening but of course when you are in turbulence that feels like a lot longer.”
She claimed that once the plane landed safely in Aberdeen, the pilot make a joke along the lines of “”oh sorry for throwing you about like a washing machine back there”, which she felt was inappropriate.
She added: “When we finally landed back in Aberdeen I overheard passengers say they thought we were all going to die. Everyone was in disbelief as to how we managed to get out of the high winds.”
‘The flight was properly and safely conducted’
A spokeswoman for Loganair refuted the passenger’s version of events, and insisted when the flight left for Belfast the weather was well within operational limits.
“The aircraft left Aberdeen on time for the flight to Belfast City, with turbulence expected due to Storm Barra but weather well within normal operational limitations for the safe completion of the flight,” she said.
“An approach to Belfast City airport was made after a short period of holding to await a window in the weather, but the captain properly elected to discontinue that approach as windspeeds rose once again.
“As conditions at Belfast International and City of Derry Airports were also similar – and deteriorating – the crew made the appropriate decision to return to Aberdeen. In view of the turbulence experienced, the cabin crew member remained seated at their crew station at the captain’s command, to avoid any risk of injury to them or others.
“All customers remained seated and the aircraft landed safely and normally at Aberdeen.”
Passengers were offered alternative flights over the next 24 hours.
The Loganair spokeswoman added: “Whilst we’re sorry that Storm Barra today has precluded the completion of the flight as planned, the flight was properly and safely conducted – which is always our priority.
“We’re heartened to have received a number of comments commending the crew on their airmanship and calm handling of the situation.”