Living in Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa, my family and I decided to take a small holiday to Kariba Lake in Zimbabwe. Having arrived early at the airport to maximize our margin, we saw that the flight was delayed by an hour. This was already hard to handle as it was midsummer with scorching heat; the terminal we were in did not have any air conditioning.
Asking one of the Air Zimbabwe representatives what was the reasoning behind the delay, she just said it was a minor technical problem that should be fixed in a short hour. My family and I were not very reassured by what was going on, but decided to just sit through it.
Finally the time came when the plane was ready for service and passengers could board the BAe 146. Flight time was only about 45 minutes. After boarding and having seated down we could finally take off! About 15 minutes after take off is where it all began. All of a sudden the air conditioning vents started blowing out thick black smoke. Everyone started screaming and panicking, children started crying, for a good minute it was chaos in the cabin. At this point my family and I thought this was it, so we held hands.
The FA, who to me looked shocked at was happening, nevertheless tried to calm us down. When the pilot saw what was happening (yes saw, because the door to the cockpit was missing), he shut the vents down. Although the pilot was nervous and frightened, he was still able to say in a calm voice over the loudspeaker that it was just a small problem with the air conditioning, and just to make sure he would turn back to Harare to make sure everything was fine. I knew that he tried to minimize the situation, but my heart didn’t stop beating so fast until we safely touched down back in Harare.
Everyone was told to get off the plane, the flight was delayed a further 2 hours, but thankfully Air Zimbabwe had the decency to use a different plane for the connection. After having waited, we boarded the plane and finally got to our destination, but were still in shock. What a start to our holiday. Never again flying Air Zimbabwe!