Payal Jain Agarwal, a 35-year-old jewellery designer from Surat who was on the Silchar-Guwahati flight, relives the ordeal for The Telegraph…
The worst is over but all is yet to sink in. I was all along thinking of my family ' my two minor sons and my mother were with me on the flight ' when the crew announced that we might have to make an emergency landing.
I am glad that it is over and thankful to God that we are all safe.
The ordeal will, however, continue to haunt us for some time to come. We had no inkling about the actual problem till we landed safely.
I can't recall the actual time, given the anxiety, but we were in the air for around two hours and 10 minutes after the as usual delayed departure around 9am.
The flight was scheduled to leave at 7.20am but we were told that it would leave at 7.50am because of a technical snag.
Eventually it took off at 9am. I was flying to Guwahati to attend a family function.
The first half-an-hour was absolutely normal with the cabin crew going about their chores as usual. We even had our breakfast.
Around 9.40am, the airhostess started issuing safety instructions and stressed the correct sitting posture especially during landing, leaving us wondering about something being amiss.
When prodded, she revealed there was some problem with the landing systems.
Then they started moving our luggage from the front to the rear.
When asked, they said they were ensuring everything was in order.
All along they were very calm and composed, attending to each and every passenger just like in normal times.
Then came the bolt from the blue when the airhostess announced we would have to make an emergency landing.
We came to know they were burning the extra fuel to minimise chances of mishaps during landing.
Then they issued a slew of dos and don'ts ' remain seated unless told to do otherwise, sit as advised, don't panic, tighten your seat belt, don't get up, follow the instructions of the airhostess, move to the closest exit on landing, don't carry your belongings and don't carry any sharp objects.
They showed us the exit routes for an emergency and told us that if required, we may have to run or jump.
I found all of these horrifying and scary, as I was with my kids and my mum.
Most of the passengers panicked, a few almost fainted but, by and large, all remained positive.
It must be said that the crew acted very professionally, attending to the fainting and the panic-stricken by offering them water and helping them relax.
They assured us that all necessary arrangements for an emergency landing have been made, with ambulances and fire brigades and doctors.
All kinds of thoughts were going through my mind like what was going to happen next; how to tackle the fire; what would happen if we have to jump.
For a moment, it appeared like I was watching a movie on disaster.
Never thought I would find myself in such a hopeless and scary situation.
Fortunately, the impact of the landing was slightly more than normal but not shocking.
Everybody was praying but relaxed when we touched base.
There was no requirement of any emergency medical help.
Everybody cheered for the pilots and crew and shook hands with the pilots for a job well done.
We were looked after very well inside the flight and had they kept silent, we would not have known that were in a dire situation.
Wish the others outside had taken as much care!
But all is well that ends well.
As told to Umanand Jaiswal