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British Airways

British Airways Pax Scream in Pain as Cabin Pressurizes on the Ground

British Airways Pax Scream in Pain as Cabin Pressurizes on the Ground
Ryan Boyd

On Sunday, an aircraft software issue aboard an aircraft operated by British Airways led to the cabin accidentally becoming pressurized while the flight was waiting to take off on the tarmac at Heathrow Airport (LHR), causing passengers to scream in pain and hold their hands over their ears.

“Everyone was in agony and one man passed out … There was a noise and all of a sudden the air pressure went through the roof,” said one passenger about the incident.

Responding to the malfunction, a British Airways spokesperson said, “There was a minor technical fault.”

“The aircraft returned to stand and our engineers fixed the fault before the plane departed.”

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[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (10)


  1. JackE

    June 18, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Why didn’t a FA open an emergency door?

  2. swm61230

    June 18, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    The same reason why you can’t open a plane door at altitude….. The cabin is pressurized.

  3. htb

    June 18, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    One person even passed or, yet there was no medical assistance?

  4. Calchas

    June 18, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    The cabin pressure would hold the door closed. The doors act as a plug against the cabin.

  5. mickeyjaw

    June 19, 2018 at 12:17 am

    @JackE because the doors open inwards against the pressure. You would have to be stronger than the incredible Hulk to open them…

  6. Boggie Dog

    June 19, 2018 at 6:01 am

    Once an aircraft has just a small amount of internal pressure that is higher that outside opening any door or hatch is very difficult. Same concept applies to people who attempt to open a hatch or door in flight. They can try all they want but unless they have super human strength they will not be able to succeed. That being said it was probably the rapid pressure change that caused the pain issues not the amount of pressure. Aircraft have a valve that limits the pressure differential between outside and internal pressure to prevent damage to the aircraft structure.

  7. daniel949

    June 19, 2018 at 7:08 am

    @JackE I doubt that would have been possible, for the same reason you can’t just pop open those doors at altitude – the plane being pressurized holds them closed, by design.

  8. Bishop84

    June 19, 2018 at 8:16 am

    I don’t think the doors can be opened when the plane is pressurised.

  9. mvoight

    June 19, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    But, at altitude, the air outside is thinner than the air inside.
    On the ground, if the plane is pressurized, the air inside the cabin is thinner.

  10. Throw Down Your Leavy Screens

    June 20, 2018 at 5:17 am

    Following up on everyone’s response about the plane being pressurized:

    The next time you board a plane and are stuck in the line by the front galley waiting on everyone to load their stuff into the overhead bins, look at the door and doorframe that you walked in through. The door is larger than the doorframe. The door is essentially countersunk into the doorframe, so that the flanges catch on the doorframe. That’s where the pressure seal is, and when the plane is pressurized, the air pressure pushes on the door, which then pushes onto (into) the doorframe. To open the door requires a tremendous amount of effort to overcome the air pressure.

    The reverse is true when your car is underwater. There, the *outside* of the door is countersunk into the frame of the car. The hydrostatic pressure of the water pushes on the door, which is why you can’t open it underwater while there is still air inside the cabin. (Once water completely fills the cabin, the hydrostatic pressure is equal both inside and outside the car, and the pressure gradient disappears.)

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