London – British Airways apologized on Friday after a crew member mistakenly played an emergency message warning Hong Kong-bound passengers that the plane they were on was about to plunge into the sea.
About 275 passengers on a Tuesday flight out of London’s Heathrow Airport heard the message: “This is an emergency. We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water,” NBC News reported.
“People were terrified, we all thought we were going to die,” passenger Michelle Lord, 32, told Britain’s The Sun newspaper, which first reported the incident. “They said the pilot hit the wrong button because they were so close together.”
“I can’t think of anything worse than being told your plane’s about to crash,” the Sun quoted another passenger as saying.
The plane was flying over the North Sea at the time.
Cabin crew on the Boeing 747 quickly reassured passengers that the message was a mistake and there was no emergency, NBC News reported.
“We would like to apologize to passengers on board the flight for causing them undue distress,” British Airways said in a statement.
“Our cabin crew immediately made an announcement following the message advising customers that it was played in error and that the flight would continue as normal,” the airline said.
The airline is investigating the incident to determine whether it was human error or a computer glitch, British Airways told Reuters.