- Posted May 11, 2014 by
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United flight 1296 to Hawaii returned back to LAX because of smoke in the cabin
On May 10, 2014, I and my wife were on the United flight 1296 to Kona, HI from LAX when about 1 hour 20 minutes a fire alarm went off near the front galley and the cabin started to fill up with smoke. After a few minutes they made a PA announcement that the plane was turning back to LAX. The oxygen masks dropped down and everyone was told to put them on. Many people complained that the masks wouldn't stay on and after they tightened the cord, it would become loose again and the masks would fall off. I had the same problem with mine and had to use a hand to hold the mask against my face. I wonder when was the last time the masks were inspected. A woman sitting in the back of the plain screamed that there was more smoke coming in the back of the plane, and the flight attendants rushed there with fire extinguishers. Luckily, there was no fire, just smoke, which looked like a light haze with a chemical smell. A little girl was crying as her parents tried to hold the oxygen mask against her face. After the AC system was turned off, that seemed to help stop the smoke from coming out.
They made an announcement that we'll be making an emergency landing on San Nicolas island and we were told to put on the life vests. Many people struggled to tear the plastic bags to remove the vests, as it was not clear how to do that and the plastic was really thick. The flight attendants showed everyone how to brace for landing and we practiced that. We were also told that we would be escorted by two fighter jets. People were really scared. Eventually we were told that we would be landing at LAX instead and there would be fire trucks waiting for us. When the plane touched down, it was probably the softest landing I ever experienced and you could hear a huge sigh of relief. The passengers applauded the crew for the great job.
At the United customer service counter they told us that everyone will put on a new flight 2053 departing at 5:30 PM on the same day and each passenger was given two $7 food vouchers to use at the airport. They also sent an email offering a choice of 17,500 miles, $300 e-certificate, or 20% off e-certificate on a future flight. I think it's highly inadequate for what we had to go through. I know several people who decided to cancel their vacations after this incidents and didn't go on the next flight.