Siberia Airlines
Passengers on a Siberian Airlines complained that they were forced to sit in a sauna-like cabin when the air-conditioning system malfunctioned. In this photo, children look at an airplane of S7 company at the airfield of Moscow's Domodedovo airport, July, 9, 2006. Getty Images/ Dmitry Kostyukov

Passengers on a Siberia Airlines flight, also known as S7, from Novosibirsk to Yekaterinburg in Russia, on Sunday, complained that they were forced to sit in a sauna-like cabin when the air-conditioning system malfunctioned.

Vladimir Shakhrin, a Russian singer, who was one of the passengers who had to go through the discomfort, told local news outlet Ren TV that even before the people stepped on the flight, the airline had begun disregarding their requests.

The bus that drove the passengers to their plane on the tarmac at Tolmachevo airport in Novosibirsk, had its doors open, which meant the people inside the vehicle felt full effects of the freezing temperature outside, minus 25 degree Celsius (minus 13 degree Fahrenheit). The driver refused to heed their requests of shutting the door.

Things got worse when they boarded the plane. They found the plane had transformed into a sauna, with the air cooler dispensing hot air instead of the cold.

“I even put my hand to (where the air conditioning was coming from) and it felt like boiling. It was 45C or 50C [113 to 122 degree Fahrenheit],” Shakhrin said.

He added that he and a few others sitting near the cockpit couldn’t help but raise the issue with the flight attendants.

“Because it is clear that they somehow fell like chickens in the soup. But they said that everything is fine, we will drive off for take-off and everything will be fine,” he said.

When conditions did not improve, the passengers demanded to see the captain of the plane. However, when the pilot did pay them a visit, he too tried to pacify them without giving them a proper explanation. A video recorded by one of the passengers showed the pilot announcing, “Now the systems are warmed up, we will start the pushback and the temperature onboard will be normal.”

Though the cooler did start blowing out cool air for a brief time, after takeoff the temperature shot back up again when the system went back to dispensing hot air.

“The worst thing that began to smell like burning wiring, when the temperature starts to smell insulation of wires. We say, ‘Girls, well, you smell. Let the pilot come out and smell it,’” Shakhrin said.

Eventually, the passengers on board started fearing for their lives.

“People were outraged because it felt dangerous. Passengers started demanding: 'We are getting off now', 'Stop the plane', 'I don't want to fly, your plane is not okay,’” Shakhrin said.

The singer added that two women felt sick as the temperature continued to rise and had to be moved to the cabin crew area, where it was comparatively cooler.

“In any case, it is scary, because you understand that this is some kind of system error, you are in the air, it is short-circuited, closed there, which sensor does not work, and what consequences this has is completely incomprehensible,” he added.

According to Mirror Online, S7 spokeswoman Anna Bazhina said regarding the incident: “Specialists are now working with [the aircraft] to find out the reason. I can only confirm that there was high [air] temperature in the cabin throughout the flight.”