Chaos in the Cabin

April 23, 2012

in Airplane Stories

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!

– epeek

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

madachode April 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Hey Einstein that's what happens when you try and fly on a third world airline that is banned from flying anywhere else due to the lack of maintenance and safety records for the aircraft. Lets not even get into the brian capacity of the so called pilots and mechanics. Hopefully this is a lessoned learned and that you and your family get out of that beat off place.


epeek April 30, 2012 at 1:31 am

Actually this incident happened in the mid/late 90's, back then the airline was considered one of the best airline's in Africa, as the airline has had no fatal accidents since it was formed in 1980 up until now.

Obviously, now I wouldnt fly on it even if that incident would not have occured. Needles to say, Air Zimabwe's fleet is now grounded.


flossiesdoll May 3, 2012 at 10:53 am

I'm pretty sure the pilots and mechanics know the difference between brains and brians.


Fred Flintstone July 11, 2012 at 2:50 am

Who knew Brian Griffin flew Air Zimbabwe?


@LROD319 November 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Wasn't brian the robot thing in Igor? The brain in a gumball machine?


Panchali June 8, 2012 at 12:08 am

While browsing the net, I came across this post. We were in Bulawayo for five years as expats from India. And the last trip that we made to Victoria was with the overnite cruise over Kariba. And around midnight, the ship started rocking n the engine stopped….it was full of foreigners and people were throwing like hell n by morning quite a few were sick..
Later in the morning, we heard that the diesel oil had finished as it had made a slight de-tour to a closeby island to drop off some ration or something!
Of course, the Zim authorities were kind enough to offer us a free ride to compensate all the unpleasantness….but, we din't have the guts to take that offer once again. Life is precious 🙂


mick November 10, 2012 at 4:06 am

Zimbabwe = Robert Mugabe. Need I say more?


NomdeVoyage March 18, 2016 at 12:50 am

Oui. Plenty. Let's hear it.


MatthewC April 11, 2016 at 8:22 am

If you were living in Zimbabwe, surely you must have been aware of the heat, and that no African airline ever operates on time or using particularly serviceable aircraft, not to mention that air conditioning in the terminal is unlikely to work (if installed!). Don't go abroad again until you have a good idea of how the rest of the world operates!


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