Old Oct 8, 09, 11:31 am
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 6
Eye-witness account

Before you ask, I WAS on that flight and, yes, the temperature on the plane at 11PM in October in Paris WAS in the high 80's and very humid - it genuinely felt like the feeling I get when I step outside the terminal at Changi into the tropical heat. There was a late boarder, whcih held things up, the crew told us the AC pumps were not working because there was a fault with the standby generator, but after several attempts, I believe, the engines were fired up and we left.

The guy who collapsed was in the rear of the plane and had just come out of the restrooms, an on-board doctor attended and we diverted to Bucharest, much as the AF details confirm.

What these details do not confirm is what happened next. While the medical emergency was being attended to, the captain refuelled, perhaps with a view to continuing shortly to SIN, but, guess what, there was no adequate facility on the ground to start the engines. The sun rose a couple of hours after our arrival but we remained on the plane for a total of 6 hours on the ground, by which time, many of the 300+ passengers were showing signs of severe heat stress, including blotchy rashes, profuse sweating and, in the case of the few infants on board, some emotional distress. Although the scheduled time for serving breakfast was not particularly relevent, no attempt was made by the cabin crew to feed anyone substantially. I asked for an ice-cream, and was told that would not be possible, as everyone would want one. It was getting increasingly uncomfortable.

At around 9AM, the local AF manager and the crew agreed to disembark everyone, after a considerable delay for the authorities to complete the paperwork re the deceased. We were bussed to the terminal building and 300+ passengers queued with their hand luggage to be security screened - by 2 machines. We were then taken through to the 'Business Lounge', which was capable of seating around 100 people, where the only food on offer was crisps, pretzels, nuts and chocolate wafer biscuits. Drinks were also available.

Another long delay with little information coming from the AF agents, although they arranged for local hotel accommodation so that people could shower/rest/change. Some took this offer up, as there was supposed to be a full meal service being offered, but feedback later revealed that too few rooms were available and the food was appalling. In order to use this facility, we were all required to recover our checked baggage an pass through immigration. Only, the plane was on the perimeter fence and the ground handlers were hell-bent on servicing the scheduled services, so this process took a couple of hours to complete. Tempers by now were fraying and more was to come.

Nearing the end of this process, AF managed to schedule the arrival from CDG of 2 smaller planes to ferry everyone back to Paris to re-start the journey - at this point, no further hotel-options were offered and instead, having spent all this time waiting to pick up our luggage, we had to move around to the check in facility, and queue again, this time for nearly 2 hours, to complete a check in process which involved hand-writing the majority of the boarding cards, 2 per passenger, one back to CDG and one on to SIN. During the whole of this process, collecting and re-checking bags, AF made no effort to feed or water anyone, including a young pregnant woman travelling with her infant child on her own. AF claimed they were no allowed to do anything, the airport said it was AF's responsibility. What AF did say was that, on completing check-in we would each be given a voucher for food in the departure lounge, which turned out to be a rather stale sandwich and a bottle of water.

The return flight to CDG was crewed by full-on PR team, who, among other offerings of apologies, hoped that we would soon forget our experience.

AF told us that food and drink would be waiting for us at the gate for our 2nd attempt from CDG - again, stale sandwiches and canned pop. No senior company representative available.

The CDG-SIN trip was about half an hour later than the normal scheduled flight. Dinner was served shortly after take-off - identical menu to the previous evening and the first 'proper' meal anyone had had since then. Shortly after, and announcment was made on the tannoy, asking if there was a doctor aboard.... a crew member had fallen ill. No need to say what effect that had.

Arrival at SIN was on schedule and many staff on hand to assist with transit passengers who had missed their links.

I am now out of the system and guess what?

tango302 is offline