Airline crew praised for expert handling of mid-air scare

MH1281SEPANG: Passengers on board Kuala Lumpur-bound Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH128 that was forced to turn back to Melbourne, Australia on Wednesday due to a disruptive passenger, have praised the crew for their handling of the mid-air ordeal.

MH128, which was rescheduled to operate as MH128D with over 100 mostly tired and exhausted passengers following the high drama in the sky, finally reached its base at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 1.43am today (Friday).

More than 50 journalists and photographers were at the KLIA arrival hall to meet the passengers and hear their accounts of the fiasco while Malaysia Airlines personnel ushered the latter to waiting buses to send them to a nearby hotel.

Student Oliver Speed, 25, applauded Malaysia Airlines crew members for acting “really fast” in the incident which happened minutes after the plane took off.

“I was sitting in the front row… I was very nervous when I saw the chaos. But I knew everything would be all right. The crew members acted excellently,” he told reporters when met at KLIA.

MH128, which departed from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, Australia at 11.11pm local time on Wednesday, was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur on June 1 at 5.28am (Malaysian time).

It was reported that the man, a Sri Lankan, who tried to enter the cockpit claiming he was carrying a bomb, was released from a psychiatric facility merely hours before the flight.

MAS’ cabin crew with the help of several passengers managed to stop the man, who was immediately tied and subdued.

Emerson Tan, 41, from London who flies frequently with MAS, said the airline did a reasonably good job under the circumstances.

“I don’t think they can do much more. It is not really the airline’s responsibility nor the Australian authority’s fault,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ang Teck Huat said the drama happened “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

The 56-year-old passenger who was in Melbourne to visit his children said he was not deceived by the bomb threat claim.

“The security at Melbourne’s airport is very tight. No way can you bring in a bomb; you cannot even bring in a small knife,” he said.