Ryanair passengers flying from the Romanian capital, Bucharest to the United Kingdom on January 21 had a traumatic flight experience. The delayed flight started filling up with smoke soon after it took off. The pilots had to declare "Mayday" before returning to Bucharest Otopeni Airport. Some passengers were too traumatised to take the replacement Ryanair flight back to London.
Passengers were supposed to depart from Otopeni Airport by 6:40 am local time on Tuesday morning. Due to a mechanical problem, the aircraft remained grounded. Ryanair managed to get a replacement aircraft to take the 169 passengers to London's Stansted airport.
Instead of an early morning flight, the passengers had to wait until 10:57 am for the replacement Boeing 737-800 to take-off. Soon after take-off, the cabin started filling up with thick smoke when the flight was at 5,000 ft altitude. The passengers started to panic. Pilots contacted the Air Traffic Control at Bucharest to request for permission to return. The ATC heeded the Mayday call and allowed the flight to head back to Otopeni Airport.
After landing, the flight was evacuated. Passengers returned to the airport. Ryanair arranged for a third aircraft to fly the passengers to London. The flight finally departed at around 3 pm. However, 29 passengers were so traumatised by the experience they refused to take the Ryanair flight. It is unknown if Ryanair made alternative travel arrangements for those passengers.
Daily Mail reported that the passengers took to social media to share their horrific experiences. Some passengers shared that the cabin crew was silent during the emergency. They did not do anything to calm the passengers down. Some passengers claimed that the oxygen masks for their seats did not come down. In a video taken by a passenger, it can be seen that some masks have descended while others have not. Passengers covered their faces with clothing.
Ryanair revealed that the aircraft had been de-iced prior to the flight. The smoke was suspected to have been caused by the de-icing fluid entering the air-conditioning system. The exact reason behind the smoke remains unknown as the investigation is ongoing.