Fear by plane.

Funk in an airplane

  Cambodia and Thailand - February 2011

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

This trip to Cambodia and Thailand will have me take six planes and three airlines (Malaysia Airlines, Bangkok Airways, AirAsia). Usually, I'm not too scared, I'm not not too much trouble flying. But there, I had a big fright at the return, on the section Phuket - Kuala Lumpur ...

Six planes

I had fun to recompose my trip video (a nice feature ofiMovie: one can trace one's itinerary on a globe).

Our project, with the friend who accompanied me: arrive in Cambodia and leave Thailand. An "open jaw" flight in airline jargon, with different entry and exit points. We opted for Malaysia Airlines, hence the stopover in Kuala Lumpur. Four planes, for the return journey between Asia and France.

Then, to go from Cambodia to Thailand, two additional flights were added:
→ Siem Reap - Bangkok (on Bangkok Airways)
→ Bangkok - Krabi (on AirAsia)

My friend returned to France a week before me. Me, I was lucky to be able to extend these small holidays ... And I took the opportunity to dive, of course! (I'll come back to tell you that in future posts.)

Big scared

So Friday, after spending ten days in the south of Thailand, I embark on flight MH791 of Malaysia Airlines. Takeoff from Phuket scheduled for 18:10, arriving in Kuala Lumpur about an hour and a half later.

We take off and I'm ready with the camera. The overflight of Phang Nga Bay, bristling with small islands and rocky peaks, is always spectacular.

I have no particular apprehension about the moment. I'm near a porthole, behind the wing. The plane is no longer young, it shows, the wing has large gray traces and several riveted pieces visibly added reinforcement or repair. But hey, nothing suspicious.

And then, as I start to photograph the bay, a little disappointed that it is already too dark, the device tilts to the side to initiate a turn. The feeling is always a bit odd, but the maneuver is classic after a takeoff, when the plane must change direction to follow his flight plan.

That leans, then. Normal.

I have twitches in my right ear. I drag a little otitis, usual bobo dive. I have been making nonstop bubbles in the Andaman Sea these days. With the altitude and pressurization of the cabin, the pain wakes up. Normal.

Except that ... except that ...

The plane leans too much, too much, there. It's not normal. In principle, they do not do acrobatics, pilots of commercial companies, huh? There's the comfort of the passengers, the security, all that ...

It turns the balloons thoroughly, the acceleration is brutal. I find myself squarely plated at the bottom of the seat. Ooh there ... Oh, no! It's not normal at all!

I take a look at my neighbor on the right. She has a funny face. She too, she feels that something is not normal.

Funk in an airplane ...

Technical problem

This atrocious turn lasted a few seconds, no more. The heart misses a beat, the stomach turns, the funk nestles deep in the guts.

And then the plane recovered, stabilized.

We are no longer clad in our seats. We dare to breathe again. My neighbor sketches a pale smile, her hands clenched on the armrest.

The speaker sputters. "This is your captain speaking ... We have a technical problem, so we are flying to Phuket, to solve this problem. Please keep your seatbelt fasten. I repeat: we are going back to Phuket. Be ready for landing. "

Nervous laughter rises in the ranks before me. My neighbor is pale.

Technical problem ? He wants to bring the plane back to Phuket? And he will still be able to land? Besides, what is the problem? It's serious, or not? For him to decide to come back, it must not be a small problem. Rather a big problem, even.

There, the funk starts to grow serious.

The minutes that follow are long, very long. We lose altitude, not too much turbulence, the aircraft descends to the sea, gets back in the axis of the track, it vibrates a little. Full silence in the plane.

And everything is going well. We land normally.

Of course, everyone lets go and applauds frantically once we are posed. Not me. Neither my neighbor. We are not at the show, no, but.

After, we stayed an hour locked in the plane, the time they repair ... Come and go of mechanics and types equipped with walkie-talkies, between the back door and the cockpit. I do not know what the technical problem was. We did not have precise explanations.

Then the captain simply told us that the problem was resolved, that we left. We took off again in the same aircraft. My neighbor and I did not laugh at all. We would have preferred to change aircraft.

Flight without history. But I was more than tense, all along. Big big relief, when we finally landed in Kuala Lumpur ...

Fear has its reasons that reason does not know

I was not (too) afraid in the next plane, between Kuala Lumpur and Paris. I remained on the alert during the entire take-off phase. I pretended to sleep during the turbulence. And a little sleepy when it became calm again. There was not even a movie to look at for more than 13 hours of flight: their entertainment system was down ... (As long as the reactors and everything else works, we're not going to complain!)

I know. It's not rational, fear flying. On the Indonesian company Lion Air, they understood it well: there is a prayer booklet adapted, for all faiths.

Come on, no flipper: the year 2010 would have been the safest of the entire history of aviation, according to theiata, the International Air Transport Association. North America has a ratio of 0.10 accidents per 1 million flights, Europe a rate of 0.45, North Asia 0.34, Asia Pacific of 0.80, South America of 1.87 and Africa of 7.41.

Otherwise, there are a lot of nice sites to heal (or not) his fear of the plane:

(Last site above added on the advice of the other girl, the one who took the same flight, uneventfully, a week before me.I quote: "The best website on airlines. In addition, they do not talk about crash. " : roll:)

Curiously, the more I take the plane, the less reassured I am. It's the body that speaks, the instinct for survival, I do not know ... There is something not very natural to steal, in fact.

I leave you with Anne Roumanoff, who explains it very well!


  Cambodia and Thailand - February 2011

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  1. Cette grosse frayeur aura au moins eu le mérite de te donner matière à un billet sympa. 😛

    Puis, tu as pu vérifier que les pilotes étaient bien réactifs et alertes. C’est rassurant, en fait. 😉

    For me, the hardest blow is probably the 13 hours of flight without entertainment system. Farewell nerdy films, exotic music and interactive parts of Who wants to earn millions!
    Le trajet, même s’il a le mérite d’être sur un vol de nuit, doit sembler bien long. Surtout lorsqu’on a pour seules lectures le magazine de la compagnie (dévoré à l’aller) et un roman de Marc Lévy (cadeau d’une amie qui veut vous faire découvrir cet auteur de génie 👿 ) !

  2. Je te comprends, il m’est arrivé récemment à ma plus grande surprise de ressentir un frisson déplaisant en avion… surprise, car cela a toujours été mon mode de transport favori, synonyme d’évasion… c’est l’âge? 😮
    However, I remain sure that I run a lot more risk every day in a car.

  3. Oula!
    I have only flown twice for the moment, and I admit that this moment of turning I hate, I imagine very well the stop of breathing the time that everything returns in the order ... there really what to be afraid of ...
    Fortunately nothing else happened!

  4. @The other girl: Bah… ça ne pouvait pas être aussi long que ces horribles et interminables minutes où tu avais de l’eau dans ton masque… 😀 (Quant au ratage de films pour meubler les 13h de vol, c’est pô grave, y’avait ni Open Waternor Abyssnor Jaws in their program ...)

    @Manta: Mince, toi aussi… 😯 Qu’est-ce qui nous arrive ?

    @Martinoo: Mai pen rai… 😆

    @ Mamzell'Dree: Oui, j’ai eu une sacrée frousse sur le moment. J’ai eu le temps de penser : « Oh non, cette fois ça y est, je suis dans le mauvais avion, au mauvais moment, sur le vol qui va faire causer aux infos… » 😡

  5. I sympathize. I lived this once in my life, with Lan Chile, take off from Easter Island, direction Papeete. Sparks at the wings, me next ... We go back to the airport, we repair, and we leave ...
    When you say: "I was more than tense, all the way" ... as you say ... especially that we, we were going to fly over the sea, and in the middle only one island, Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty ... awesome ...!
    I have already flown to Malaysia, like many other travelers. Whew, it went well.
    In any case your story is well told and well taken, it throbs.

  6. J’espère sincèrement que ça ne m’arrivera jamais. Depuis que je suis mère, je suis une vraie trouillarde! P.S.: Merci de m’avoir rappelé de faire la mise à jour d’iMovie! 😉

  7. Very funny experience that this flight Phuket - Kuala Lumpur. We laugh after the fact but in the moment we do not play heroes.

    If not talking about flights, I made a trip report of the new connection Paris Orly - Kuala Lumpur available here:


    New photos of Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai and Koh Rok are available on my site including photos of dives.

    @ Soon.

  8. @Joce: Ouh, là là… Pas rassurant, ton vol, non plus. Jusque-là, je n’avais jamais rien eu à reprocher à la Malaysian Airlines… 😯

    @ Marie-Julie: Forcément, quand on a charge d’une petite âme, ça démultiplie l’angoisse. En attendant, y’a iMovie pour voler virtuellement et sans peur ! 😀

    @Fabrice: With all the planes that you will take for your journey, I hope you will never find yourself in a similar scary situation! Good trip. 8)

    @SAFE: Many thanks for your link and your detailed report, very interesting (and I went back with happiness in these beautiful Thai pictures). I'll add it here, on my other blog:
    For my part, I will test Air Asia X eco class A / R in July. I managed to cover a correct price with the launch promo (267 € A / R). I still added a hundred euros by pre-ordering a large weight extra luggage, comfort-kit, meals ... (total A / R = 390, it remains valid). I am rather "small size", I should survive despite the narrowness of the seats.
    Otherwise, not stupid the compromise you suggest: go eco, return in premium. I'll think about it next time.
    Enfin, j’ai bien ri quand tu rappelles le coup des taxis AVANT la douane au LCCT. Je me suis fait avoir une fois, moi aussi. Mais le gentil monsieur en uniforme à qui j’ai fait un grand sourire en expliquant ma requête m’a autorisée à re-rentrer… 🙄

  9. "Curiously, the more I fly, the less reassured I am. "

    Marrant, ça me fait pareil 🙂
    And even retrospective fears, when a company taken qques time ago is found on blacklist! (One Two Go airways in thailand)

  10. @Paradise: En Indonésie, c’est pire : pas le choix, dès que tu voles avec une compagnie locale, tu te retrouves sur cette fameuse liste noire… 😕

  11. In fact, Indonesia is gradually improving.
    For example, Garuda is now sure. Lion Air, relatively.
    And in low cost, Air Asia allows to travel well on the archipelago (but not to go everywhere, unfortunately ...)

  12. @A World Elsewhere: Je dois dire que le récit de ton atterrissage presque catastrophe m’a bien fait frémir… 😯

    As for Air Asia, compared to Lemérou's remark, above, yes, there are more and more international flights (I will soon be testing the Paris-KL). The thing is that Air Asia flights, even if they cover a lot of destinations in Asia, still do not allow to go really everywhere ... It is then necessary for certain places, resign themselves to take companies considered less sure, especially in Indonesia.

    As for the company Malaysia Airlines, which I took for this flight Pukhet-KL, it is a good company however, in which I usually trust.

  13. Thank you Corinne, I'm waiting to read what you think of Paris / Kuala Lumpur. In Indonesia actually we do not have much choice, I remember my surprise when recording for my very first flight on LionAir I was asked to get on the scale with my cabin luggage on the back!

  14. Bjr pbda, the site is tip top, all my congratulations and congratulations for this time spent to share with us. Question: what software / website do you use for animating videos with the animated globe showing the route with the indicated cities? As can be seen in Cambodia and Thailand? A big thank you for the info and the time spent for the answer. Cdt, Eric, Padi / Cmas monitor.