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 (You can plot your route on a globe).

Our project, with the friend who accompanied me: arriving in Cambodia and leaving 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. That's four planes, for the outward and return trip 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 went back to France a week before me. I was lucky enough to be able to extend this little holiday... And I took advantage of it to dive, of course! (I'll come back to tell you about it in the next 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's tilting too much, way too much right now. It's not normal. Commercial airline pilots don't normally do acrobatics, do they? There's passenger comfort, security, all that...

The balloons are going full throttle, the acceleration is brutal. I find myself right at the bottom of the seat. Oh, my God... Oh, no! This is 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 now flying back to Phuket, to solve this problem. Please keep your seatbelt fastened. 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 take the plane back to Phuket? And he's still going to be able to land? What's the problem anyway? Is it serious or not? For him to decide to come back, it can't be a small problem. More like 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 wasn't (too) scared on the next plane from Kuala Lumpur to Paris. I was on the alert during the whole take-off phase. I pretended to sleep during the turbulence. And a little sleepy when it became calm again. Not even a movie to watch to think about something else during the more than 13 hours of flight: their entertainment system was down... (Bah! As long as the engines and everything else is working, we're not going to complain!).

I know, I know, I know, I know, I know. It's not rational, fear of flying. On the Indonesian airline Lion Air, they've realized that there's a... prayer booklet adapted, for all faiths.

Come on, there's nothing to freak out about: 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 cure (or not) your fear of flying:

(Last site above added on the advice of the other girl, the one who took the same flight, without incident, a week before me. I quote her: "The best airline website. Besides, they don't talk about crashes. » 🙄 )

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. This big scare will at least have given you something to write about in a cool post. 😛

    Then you got to check out the responsive and alert drivers. That's reassuring, actually 😉

    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!
    The trip, even if it has the merit of being on a night flight, must seem quite long. Especially when the only reading material is the company's magazine (devoured on the outbound flight) and a Marc Lévy novel (a gift from a friend who wants you to discover this genius author 👿 )!

  2. I understand you, it happened recently to my greatest surprise that I felt an unpleasant chill on a plane... surprise, because it has always been my favorite mode of transportation, synonymous with escape... is it age? 😮
    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: Well... it couldn't have been as long as those horrible and endless minutes when you had water in your mask... 😀 (As for missing movies to fill the 13 hours of flight, it's not a big deal, there was no Open Waternor Abyssnor Jaws in their program ...)

    @Manta: Gee, you too... 😯 What's happening to us?

    @Martinoo: Mai pen rai... 😆

    @ Mamzell'Dree: Yes, I had quite a scare at the time. I had time to think: "Oh no, this time it's it, I'm on the wrong plane, at the wrong time, on the flight that's going to be on the news..." 😡

  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. I sincerely hope it never happens to me. Ever since I became a mom, I've been a total chicken! P.S.: Thanks for reminding me to update 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: Ooh, there... Not reassuring, your flight, either. Until then, I had never had anything to complain about with Malaysian Airlines... 😯

    @ Marie-Julie: Obviously, when you're in charge of a little soul, it multiplies the anxiety. In the meantime, there's iMovie to fly virtually and without fear! 😀

    @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.
    Anyway, I laughed out loud when you recalled the cab trick BEFORE customs at LCCT. I got screwed once, too. But the nice man in uniform I gave a big smile to when explaining my request allowed me to re-enter... 🙄

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

    Funny, I feel the same way 🙂
    And even retrospective fears, when a company taken qques time ago is found on blacklist! (One Two Go airways in thailand)

  10. @Paradise: In Indonesia, it's worse: no choice, as soon as you fly with a local company, you end up on this famous blacklist... 😕

  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: I have to say that the story of your near disaster landing did make me cringe... 😯

    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.