On May 26, a flight from Singapore to London hit severe turbulence, resulting in aisles that ended up looking more of what you'd expect to see at the end of a wild party or a major food-fight and not in a reputed and multi-award winning airline like Singapore Airline.
As the flight attendants on Singapore Airline flight SQ308 were preparing to serve breakfast, the pilot turned on the fasten seatbelt sign and requested that everyone be seated. The plane then suddenlyplunged 65 feet, throwing breakfast foods, hot drinks and everything else (including people who did not fasten their seatbelts on time) into the air.
Pictures taken by Canadian radio broadcaster Alan Cross show items strewn about the cabin and coffee on the ceiling of the plane. Cross told ABC News that passengers were told to expect some turbulence, but they weren't prepared for feeling like "being in an elevator with a cut cable or free-falling from some amusement park ride."
Cross said the crew was "amazing" following the drop in altitude, as were his fellow passengers. After checking to ensure that no one was seriously injured, the flight attendants, with help from the passengers, quickly cleaned up the mess and went back to business as usual.
Singapore Airlines said in a statement to Australia News that "eleven passengers and one crew member sustained minor injuries when the aircraft experienced a sudden loss of altitude." (Cross was unharmed, save for a piece of sausage down his shirt). The plane continued its 10 hour flight as planned, but was met by medical personnel when it landed in London.
Scientists have claimed that global warming will affect the amount of turbulence flights encounter. British researchers from East Anglia and Reading universities estimate that the likelihood of hitting significant turbulence will rise 40 to 170 percent by the year 2050. They also predict that the strength of in-air disturbances will increase by 10 to 40 percent.
"We'll be seeing the ‘fasten seatbelts' sign turned on more often in the decades ahead," Dr. Paul Williams from the University of Reading said in an interview with The Daily Mail.
If this is the case, we can only hope that airlines will learn to respond to disruptive turbulence in a similar fashion to Singapore Airlines. Passengers received a complimentary box of chocolates when they arrived at Heathrow Airport.