Our flight MCT-DXB was scheduled at around 7pm. We would land in Dubai 50 minutes later and it would give us about 3 hours time for some dinner and check-in for the next two flights. We had flights from Dubai to Manila, with an 11 hours layover in Manila and onwards from Manila to Sydney. A long travel day. But we were majorly excited.
We got to the Airport a bit early and headed off for some coffee. The Muscat- Dubai routing is very popular and therefore there are many flights a day. We strolled around the gates and when they called out for a Final Boarding Call for the Muscat-Dubai flight on Oman Air, we were confused for a second and headed to the gate and realized it was still the earlier flight and they were waiting on two passengers.
Eventually we boarded. And it took forever. 20 minutes after our supposed starting time we were still at the gate waiting for departure. I started to count how much time we still could lose to make our connection. It was all fine, if we took off within an hour. So all good. All scheduled. We might have a quicker dinner, than planned, but that’s nothing to worry about.
Shortly after departure the stewardess started with service. Usually on such short-haul flights you get a drink and a cookie. But Oman Air is a very nice airline and they had a selection of drinks and sandwiches available.
It all happened very fast. We were seated in 12E and 12F. That’s exactly before the wings on the right hand side. All of a sudden, there was this immense loud BANG! Take the worst sound you can imagine, combine it with a nail scratching noise on a table board and the fact you’re on an airplane. Terrifying!
Immediately everyone looked to the left and looked around. After that BOOM-sound, there was a noise. It just sounded not right. It sounded like something is broken and not okay. It was very loud and very concerning. I’ve flown quite a bit and can tell if a noise on an airplane is fine or should not be there. And this sound definitely shouldn’t have been there.
Our stewardess has been around row 8 or 9 with her service. She said “No worries. It’s fine”. She handed out any sort of drinks and sandwiches, without even asking anymore, quickly moving on. She is supposed to stay calm and to not worry. But you saw in her face, that she wasn’t calm.
The noise got louder and eventually first passengers from a couple rows behind screamed “What’s that?”, “What’s happening?”. Again she replied “It’s fine. Will be fine”. Well, it was an obscure moment. Everyone looked around. Looked at their neighbours. Sharing anxious looks.
It got worse, when the steward came out of the cockpit, walking up to the stewardess and telling her “Stop the service! Stop now!”. That was the official moment everyone knew, it’s not okay. We’re not alright!
Victoria next to me, pretty much lost it. I was juggling between being extremely nervous myself and trying to calm her. I saw that the plane made a slight reverse to the left. I knew we were going back.
The steward went through and told a few people with completely white faces we will be landing shortly, we are having technical issues. When we found out later, that the left turbine failed, that “having technical issues”, is a cute phrase for that incident.
Everybody now knew we are going down. Muscat was about 15 minutes away. We didn’t know if we’d make it back. We had really terrifying minutes. It’s the most terrified I felt in my life. The thing that adds up, is that you’re completely helpless. So you’re just sitting there, not knowing what to do. Just hearing that really awful noise.
I hated seeing the fear in the faces of my fellow passengers. It stopped me from being calm myself and got me anxious all over.
We got instructions for the emergency landing and upon landing we could see all the fire brigades and emergency cars waiting for us. We landed safe. The relief was insane. I don’t wish these minutes to anyone, not even my worst enemy (If I had one).
We were escorted to a gate and everyone got relaxed. I guess we were about 120 people. I knew we would never make our connection in Dubai and that sucked, because it was kinda big deal. Three ground staff members of Oman Air were on duty for us and at first they were all busy to keep us in the gate. A lot of us had connection flights and they knew it. Especially when flying to Dubai Airport, where 80 percent of any incoming passengers have connecting flights.
The staff member in charge took notes from everyone, who had a connection and tried to sort out, what’s best for everyone. Some passengers were offered a hotel for the night in Muscat and another flight to Dubai the following day.
But there was a lack of information. At first we were told, we’d fly within the next hour to Dubai, but that quickly turned out to be not happening. At some point, they told some passengers there is free food with our boarding pass at some place in the Food Court. But they never addressed the whole group of us, they just told individuals. So it was never clear what is happening, or where we should go. Eventually we were told our flight is due to depart around 11pm. The Oman Air staff did a brilliant job with staying calm, when a lot of people got angry with them, especially some of the Arabian passengers, who were shouting at them. I couldn’t understand them, but it sounded horrible. They probably just asked for water. Who knows.
Anyway, we were told they couldn’t do anything for Victoria and me, since nobody reaches Dubai and we should contact Oman Air via Email at a later stage to talk about this incident. Go figure!
We flew to Dubai in what was maybe the same airplane from before. We didn’t know exactly. But the airplane we boarded, was standing quite near the spot we were leaving the airplane earlier tonight.
Fast-forward, we arrived at DXB, waited forever for Victoria’s Backpack and then moved on to the Departures Hall. We tried to find some staff from our Philippine Airline. But since it was already 2.30 am in the morning and they only come when there is a flight departing, no one was to be found. Argh!
So the hard facts for you; we just had an emergency landing, spend 3 hours waiting at a gate, spend another hour on board, arrived in the middle of the night, with our flight to the Philippines already gone, nobody to talk to and no tickets out of Dubai. We were stuck. Hungry and tired as well!
There was a small Starbucks shop at Terminal 1, where we were. We bought drinks and sat down for a minute. Literally after sitting down, construction work began. Again, very loud! What else.. in the middle of the night! Argh!
I went online and was able to put us on to flights to Sydney the following evening with Singapore Airlines. I had not had many other options. We went to an airport hotel and passed out immediately.
The next day we had two smooth flights to Sydney via Singapore and finally arrived Down Under. I will sort out this incident with Oman Air once I get home. But for now, we are just happy to be okay and to keep on travelling!
In no way has our trip been affected or influenced in a negative way by this emergency landing in Oman. This is travelling. You can’t plan it all. There are unexpected things, things you just gotta cope with. That’s the beauty about it. You never know what you are lined up for.
This hasn’t been a experience I wish to repeat, but it’s the unknown, the surprises and the moments, you think back at, that are beautiful and I want to experience.
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