Air NZ passenger describes panic after ’emergency’ on Los Angeles flight

An Air New Zealand flight from Los Angeles to Auckland on Friday morning descended into chaos as a faulty cabin monitoring system saw lights go out, oxygen masks deploy and an emergency warning sound in the plane.

Fashion designer Jakob Carter was returning to New Zealand on the flight after a business trip to Los Angeles, and said all was well until they encountered turbulence over Rarotonga in the early morning hours.

“We encountered some turbulence, it wasn’t that bad, but all of a sudden the lights went out, the oxygen masks came off…people started panicking, it was pretty scary,” Carter told 1News.

One woman started having a panic attack, Carter said, while the flight attendants were also “really scared”.

“They said they had never experienced anything like this in their career.”

The confused and worried passengers kept their oxygen masks on for about 20 to 25 minutes, Carter said, before the captain said over the loudspeaker that there was nothing wrong with the plane and that people could remove their masks.

Passengers on a flight to Auckland from Los Angeles were left confused and panicked as cabin lights went out and oxygen masks were deployed.

Air New Zealand’s operational integrity and safety chief, Captain David Morgan, said it was not an emergency on the Boeing 777-300 and that there is had a problem with the cabin monitoring system when the plane descended to avoid turbulence.

“Our engineers are inspecting the aircraft’s cabin monitoring system to determine the cause of the fault. This will be corrected before the next flight,” Morgan said.

Carter said it was something he had never experienced and that he and his fellow travelers were “really happy” to get off the plane once it landed just after 5 a.m.

He praised flight attendants for their efforts to calm passengers following the incident and received an apology from the airline following the incident.

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