A former British Airways cabin crew member claims that a terrifying midair engine fire left her “mentally scarred” and unable to work. Now, she is seeking nearly a million dollars in restitution from her former employer.
A routine British Airways flight from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (OSL) quickly became anything but routine after one of the Airbus A319’s engines burst into flames during takeoff, but one cabin crew member says the terrifying incident changed her life forever. Former flight attendant Lucy Sargeant told a judge that the midair ordeal left her with “disturbed sleep, extreme anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares and fear of flying.” More importantly, the 29-year-old says the lingering trauma eventually forced her to walk away from her dream job.
Now, the onetime crew member is asking a court to award her £750,000 in damages. According to The Telegraph, British Airways has agreed to compensate Sargeant for a portion of her lost wages and mental health expenditures that occurred in the wake of the emergency landing and subsequent evacuation, but the airline has balked at the rather substantial price of the restitution package the former employee is seeking. Among other things, Sargeant is reportedly seeking compensation for lost travel perks associated with working for an airline.
“There was complete panic on the plane,” lawyer Nicholas Yell explained at a hearing this week. “Seasoned flyers such as Miss Sargeant were completely terrified but tried to keep up a brave face for the benefit of the passengers.” He told the court that at points during the inflight emergency, his client “genuinely thought she was going to die.”
Sargeant says she didn’t finally decide to quit what she called “the most wonderful job” until she was on duty during a second inflight emergency in 2016. In this case, fumes started to fill the cabin of the aircraft she was working aboard, necessitating an emergency landing. For Sergeant, the latest incident was the final straw.
“I had never been back to myself since the 2013 incident,” she told the judge this week. “I was struggling all the time since I went back to flying. I just didn’t feel safe where I was working.”