A security guard rides a bicycle past an AirAsia plane at the Garuda Maintenance Facility AeroAsia, the aircraft maintenance and repair unit of Indonesian flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia Tbk, in Tangerang, Indonesia, Sept. 20, 2017. Reuters

Passengers aboard an AirAsia flight from Australia to Indonesia on Sunday have alleged that flight staff panicked and screamed when the plane rapidly plummeted 20,000 feet after losing cabin air pressure, reports said.

Despite the chaos, flight QZ535 returned safely to Perth Airport just 25 minutes into its flight.

AirAsia has also apologized after the mid-air emergency forced the pilot to turn back a flight from Perth to Bali, according to SBS, a national public television network in Australia.

However, for the passengers, the experience was no less than a nightmare as the staff members of the plane themselves were visibly terrified of the situation.

Oxygen masks fell from the cabin and passengers were instructed to get into the brace position, reported.

“I actually picked up my phone and sent a text message to my family, just hoping that they would get it,” said Leah, a passenger from Perth. "We were all pretty much saying goodbye to each other. It was really upsetting."

"One of the stewardesses started running down the aisle and we thought, why is she running," Leah said. "And then the masks fell down and everybody started panicking," she added.

Another woman from Perth named Tracy was on the flight with her young son, Jayden. "My son said he didn't’t want to get on another flight but I’ve assured him it can’t happen twice in a row," she said.

"It’s really put me off flying, I fly every year on Air Asia," Tracy added, according to

"The panic was escalated because of the behavior of staff who were screaming and looked tearful," passenger Clare Askew said, according to CNN.

"We look to them for reassurance and we didn't get any. We were more worried because of how panicked they were," she added.

Another passenger said that the panic started only after the staff began creating chaos. "They went hysterical. There was no real panic before that. Then everyone panicked," said Mark Bailey.

The concerned plane, which was an Airbus A320, plunged from above 34,000 feet to 10,000 feet in just a few minutes, reports said citing data from But, this was not a standalone incident as it's a standard practice for pilots to descent to that altitude when a cabin depressurization takes place, CNN reported.

In an emailed statement to CNN, AirAsia said that the flight was diverted after a "technical issue."

"We commend our pilots for landing the aircraft safely and complying with standard operating procedure," Capt. Ling Liong Tien, AirAsia Group's head of safety, said in the statement.

"We are fully committed to the safety of our guests and crew and we will continue to ensure that we adhere to the highest safety standards," he added.

The aircraft was examined for cause of the problem Sunday. However, AirAsia did not comment on allegations made by passengers against the flight staff.

In June, a Malaysia-based AirAsia X flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur turned back following the failure of its engines. One of the staff members had apparently asked the passengers to pray; this behavior of the staff was criticized, CNBC reported.