United Airways Flight 811- A Cabin Crew Perspective

United Airways Flight 811- A Cabin Crew Perspective
United Airways Flight 811- A Cabin Crew Perspective

It was February twenty fourth, 1989, when this unimaginable occasion occurred. United Airways flight 811 was flying from Los Angeles to Sydney through Honolulu and Auckland. There have been 337 passengers onboard the Boeing 747 and 18 crew, together with 15 flight attendants. Captain David Cronin was assisted by first officer Gregory Slader and flight engineer Randal Thomas within the flight deck.

The crew members

The chief purser that day was Laura Brentlinger, who was working on the entrance of the plane with flight attendants Ricky Umehira, Edward Lythgoe, Sharol Preston, Richard Lam, Ilona Benoit and Mae Sapolu. Assigned to the rear of the plane had been purser Sarah Shanahan and flight attendants Curtis Christensen, Tina Blundy, Linda Shirley, Darrell Blankenship, Robyn Nakamato, Jean Nakayama and John Horita. Curtis had been referred to as from standby that day.


Within the cabin

There have been thunderstorms round as they took off from Honolulu, so the Captain had left the seatbelt indicators on. Laura, Edward and Ricky had been getting ready for service close to the 747s spiral staircase to the higher deck. Richard was working within the ahead decrease galley, getting ready the meals for firstclass. Tina, Curtis, Jean and Darrell had been organising the drinks carts within the rear galley. Ilona and Mae had already began serving drinks in enterprise class. It was simply 17 minutes into their flight.



There was an enormous explosion that shook the plane, main a lot of the crew members to suppose it was a bomb as a result of Lockerbie had occurred fairly just lately. A cargo door that was improperly latched had blown out of the plane, taking a big sector of the fuselage with it. This resulted in an explosive decompression that eliminated seats 8H, 9FGH, 10GH, 11GH and 12H. The passengers from these seats had been ejected from the plane.

“There was gray swirling smoke and particles flying in every single place. As I used to be being thrown down, I watched ceiling panels fall; door panels and aspect panels blew off. Massive panels fell on individuals’s heads. It was like an implosion. Every part got here down from the ceiling and the partitions inward to us.”

– Curtis, flight attendant, United Airways flight 811

The aftermath

Laura was clinging onto the staircase rails, blowing like a flag within the wind, till she was pulled right down to security by her crew and a few passengers. She was severely injured however managed to get to Ilona, who was bleeding and coated in particles. Laura helped her to a bounce seat and strapped her in.

Edward was dazed and coated in espresso – he, too, had been holding onto the staircase. Mae was nearly blown out of the plane. Curtis was thrown into the aisle. He managed to stand up and begin eradicating particles that landed on the passengers. Richard had fallen backward however climbed as much as the cabin seeing garbage, particles and mud in every single place.

The flight crew began an emergency descent again into Honolulu. The flight engineer couldn’t talk with the cabin crew to inform them to organize for an emergency touchdown. Thus, he went into the cabin to satisfy the scene of the lacking fuselage. A few of the flight attendants tried to get onto oxygen however, within the chaos, struggled to suit on the separate masks. They had been making an attempt to take care of injured passengers, calm them and clear particles from the aisles and exits. Some storage compartments had fallen into areas blocking the exits, in order that they closed them.

Put together for ditching

The flight attendants began getting ready the passengers for an emergency touchdown and ditching on water. It was tough to speak due to the noise, in order that they used megaphones to shout instructions. On the higher deck, the crew members used the protection card and life jacket to transient the passengers, however with the noise and particles, it was unattainable. As such, the passengers briefed the row behind them. Sarah had assigned ABPs (able-bodied passengers) on the rear to help with door operation, slide deployment, and serving to passengers off the slide on the finish.


A few of the crew and passengers had issues becoming the life vests. Laura was helped by a deadheading flight attendant who strapped them each right into a bounce seat for touchdown. Edward discovered himself strapped in his bounce seat, staring into the gaping gap within the fuselage. He ready himself for the emergency touchdown – presumably on the ocean.

What occurred after

The plane landed safely at Honolulu Worldwide Airport 14 minutes after the emergency. The flight attendants evacuated all remaining passengers in 45 seconds. The entire flight attendants had accidents, starting from damaged bones, dislocations, cuts and bruises, and strains. 9 passengers died after being ejected from the plane in the course of the decompression. Their our bodies had been by no means discovered, though some components had been found within the engine.

Solely three of the 15 flight attendants went again to their flying duties. Most of them had been affected by their bodily accidents or had post-traumatic stress dysfunction and by no means flew once more. A few of the crew reported issues in regards to the airline’s cutbacks in coaching and security tools. Sarah refused to return to her duties based mostly on these misgivings. Sharol stated there weren’t sufficient megaphones or oxygen bottles. Darrell and Edward described the life vests as being badly designed. The entire crew obtained the Heroism Award for his or her braveness and perseverance on that unbelievable day.