A Vueling A320neo was forced to make an emergency landing on Friday 13th September when the cabin filled with smoke. Passengers were reportedly told to cover their noses and mouths and to keep their heads low. The aircraft landed safely at Barcelona El Prat Airport, whereupon the passengers were evacuated using the emergency slides, a task made even more difficult due to the windy conditions at the airport.
According to the Aviation Herald, the Vueling A320neo, registered EC-NCU, was on route from Malaga to Barcelona on September 13th when crew reported the cabin was filling with smoke. As Barcelona was the closest and most convenient airport, the aircraft continued its journey, radioing ahead for an emergency landing.
The aircraft landed safely on runway 25L, where it taxied to a remote stand and evacuated using the slides. By then, the cabin had been filling with smoke for around 20 minutes, and the Daily Mail says some passengers were having panic attacks. According to one witness, cabin crew had told passengers to cover their nose and mouth with their hands and to keep their heads as low as possible.
The video below shows the last moments of the flight as the cabin was filling with smoke. It’s rather poor quality, but you get the idea.
Así se vivieron los últimos 25 minutos del vuelo de #vueling entre Málaga y Barcelona, correspondiente al pasado Sábado.
La cabina llena de humo provocó la necesaria evacuación de todos los pasajeros por las rampas de emergencia.#turama @controladores @LaVanguardia @elmundoes pic.twitter.com/1Y6F8ZE2Rn
— Turama (@turama_es) September 16, 2019
Not over yet…
Despite the aircraft making a safe landing, for the concerned passengers, the ordeal was not over yet.
On arrival at the airport, the emergency slides were deployed in order to evacuate the aircraft as soon as possible. However, the weather had other ideas. A fierce wind blew the front slide up in the air, making it impossible to use. With the crew busy getting everyone off the aircraft and nobody on the ground to help, the entire plane was forced to evacuate through the rear.
Rampa delantera inutilizada en la evacuación del avión de @vueling en el Prat.
Si se solicita prioridad, y no se declara emergencia, pasan estas cosas: no había personal para ayudar a mantener la estabilidad de la rampa delantera y todo el pasaje es obligado a utilizar la trasera pic.twitter.com/5QhkWQ1drd
— Turama (@turama_es) September 15, 2019
One a few people hit terra firma, however, they approached the slide and held it down, enabling passengers at the front of the plane to make a speedy exit.
Evacuación de emergencia la noche de ayer en el aeropuerto de El Prat, de el avión de @vueling que cubría la ruta entre Málaga y Barcelona. Estamos pendientes de las explicaciones de la aerolínea. #vueling #turama @controladores pic.twitter.com/tFEk3cQIFM
— Turama (@turama_es) September 14, 2019
You can see a more comprehensive video of the evac below:
According to Flight Radar, the aircraft has not been used again since the incident. It is still showing as being on the ground in Barcelona, although it is scheduled on a service tomorrow to Madrid.
Simple Flying talked to Vueling who gave us this statement in regards to the event,
“In the early hours of Saturday September 14th , flight VY2118 from Malaga landed in Barcelona following standard procedures after requesting priority to do so.
“Upon landing, after detecting smoke in the cabin and in accordance with safety procedures, the crew ordered the evacuation of the aircraft via slides, whereby all customers and crew were safely evacuated.
“Vueling is working with the relevant authorities to determine the cause. At Vueling, the safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority.”
Cabin bags an issue again
While it’s clear to see that passengers are not evacuating the aircraft with their luggage, inside the plane is another story. Cabin Crew Club on Instagram praised the efforts of the crew in not allowing passengers to leave with their luggage, however, it appears this still didn’t stop them from taking them from the overhead lockers.
View this post on Instagram
VUELING EVACUATION That’s how the aft galley and the cabin area around was left after A320 Vueling Evacuation yesterday in Barcelona. Crew was doing an EXCELLENT job not allowing passengers evacuate with their luggage risking others safety and delaying the flow of the evacuation. There were no casualties or injured. We can only congratulate the crew for a JOB WELL DONE, here is our honest appreciation. To All Passengers: PLEASE BE RESPONSIBLE! LEAVE YOUR LUGGAGE BEHIND! ❌👜❌💼❌🎒❌👜❌💼❌🎒❌👜❌💼❌🎒❌👜❌💼❌🎒❌👜❌💼❌🎒 EVACUACIÓN VUELING Así es como quedó el galley trasero y la zona alrededor después de la evacuación del A320 de Vueling ayer en BCN. La tripulación hizo un trabajo estupendo no permitiendo a los pasajeros salir del avión con su equipaje, evitando así que pusieran en riesgo a otras personas retrasando el ritmo de la evacuación. No hubo que lamentar ningún herido. Queremos desde aquí dar la ENHORABUENA a la tripulación por su EXCELENTE actuación. A todos los pasajeros: SEA RESPONSABLE DEJE SU MALETA #cabincrew #cabincrewclub #cabincrewlife #cabincrewlifestyle #vueling #vuelingcrew #vuelingcabincrew #vuelingevacuation #safetybriefing #safetyfirst #tcp #flightattendant #flightattendants #flightattendantlifestyle #briefing #flightattendantlife #azafata #azafatas #aeromoza #sobrecargo #hotessedelair #auxiliardevuelo #tripulante #notebook #sep #leftyourluggage #evacuation #aircraftevacuation #barcelonaairport #elprat @confessionsofatrolleydolly @internationalflyguy
Judging by the number of bags left strewn around the aft cabin area, it looks like many passengers retrieved their bags from the storage bins, carried them down the aisle and then abandoned them at the end of the plane when told they couldn’t take them on the slide.
While the crew did a great job of stopping the bags traveling on the slides, therefore saving the slides from damage, it seems the message to leave luggage behind is still not getting through to people. By the time you’ve stopped to lift your bag down from overhead and have shuffled down the aircraft with a heavy case, it’s too late, the damage has been done.
Not only this, but having piles of abandoned bags strewn around the cabin is almost worse than people taking them off with them. Should someone with reduced mobility or perhaps a small child be in the queue behind, it’s possible they could not exit the plane. In this case, there was no danger to life from the smoke, but these passengers did not know that. As we’ve seen before, anything which slows down an evacuation could have fatal consequences.
Were you on board flight VY2118? Have you been evacuated down a slide in the past? Tell us about it in the comments!