Flight from hell: 21 injured on turbulent Air Canada flight
Thursday, December 31, 2015, 7:34 AM - Violent turbulence aboard a flight over Canadian skies resulted in 21 people being hospitalized Wednesday evening, leaving passengers to refer to the experience as the 'flight from hell'.
Air Canada Flight 88 was en route from Shanghai to Toronto when it encountered the turbulence, forcing it to divert to Calgary so the injured, who included three children, could be treated.
The shaken passengers were deplaned there, greeted by 15 ambulance after local EMS enacted its "mass casualty protocol."
Images provided to 660News reporter Ian Campbell and uploaded to Twitter showed the interior of the plane strewn with pillows, personal items and other debris, while oxygen masks dangled overhead.
"It was the flight from hell," passenger Connie Gelber told the Canadian Press. "The girl beside me was thrown right out of her seat down the aisle. Everyone was injured. We thought we were dying. Even the stewards (said that) never in any of their years had (they) seen anything like it."
Other passengers described their fellow travellers bring thrown out of their seats. One, identified by 660News as Gord, said it was the worst turbulence he'd ever encountered.
"There was a pop can that actually landed on top of the overhead compartment and stayed up there, so we dropped quite a bit," he said.
Emergency officials told media in Calgary that the injuries ranged from minor, to neck and chest trauma, but no one suffered life-threatening injuries.
Periodontist Dr. Suzanne Caudry, who checked several travellers for injuries, told CBC News the flight crew had warned passengers to put their seatbelts on "numerous times," and she saw two who hadn't heeded the warning go flying to the cabin ceiling.
"Their heads had literally hit the ceiling and actually gone through the plastic ... The fact that nobody was seriously injured is a miracle," Caudry said.
The aircraft, a Boeing 777-300ER, had 332 passengers and 19 crew aboard. A statement from Air Canada said of the injured who were hospitalized, 13 were under observation. Passengers were rebooked on another flight to Toronto.
"Our focus today has been on those passengers who have been injured in this incident and those other passengers on the aircraft for whom this has been a very unsettling experience," Klaus Goersch, the airline's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "Safety is always our first priority and so any incident involving the safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost concern."
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.
This is Air Canada's second major incident of 2015 that resulted in hospitalizations. In March, Air Canada Flight 624 crash landed in Halifax in snowy weather with 133 passengers and five crew. No one was killed, but 25 people were sent to hospital.