Three hours into British Airways Flight 206, passengers on the overnight flight were awakened by a prerecorded message saying, This is an emergency. We will shortly be making an emergency landing on water.
People began panicking.
My wife was crying and passengers were screaming, a passenger from Scotland told The Telegraph. I thought we were going to die. Except it was a mistake.
The flight, which was halfway between Miami and London at the time, was actually cruising at 35,000 feet when the message went off. The crew immediately played another message stating everything was OK. When the passengers made it to London, they were met by British Airways representatives who handed out apology letters.
The airline blamed the 3 a.m. wakeup call on an error, though whether that error was by a human or a computer was not clear. The cabin crew canceled the announcement immediately and sought to reassure customers that the flight was operating normally. We apologize to customers for causing them undue concern, the company said in a statement.
This wasn't the first time British Airways has had this problem. In August 2010, 275 passengers on a flight from London to Hong Kong heard a similar message, which said We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water. The airline later issued an apology. No word on what caused the error in that case.