A domestic Jet Airways flight in India turned into a harrowing experience for several passengers who suffered nosebleeds, resulting in an emergency landing on Thursday. The incident was due to an oversight on behalf of the flight crew when it turned out the cabin wasn't pressurized before the plane departed from Mumbai to Jaipur.
The incident prompted the crew to drop oxygen masks after several people suffered nosebleeds, headaches and severe ear pain while trying to withstand some 45 minutes of depressurization. After the pilots made an emergency landing back in Mumbai, it was determined that all 166 of the passengers onboard the Boeing 737 were declared to be safe.
First aid officials on the ground reported that 30 of the passengers suffered from nosebleeds and were given proper treatment before being released. Five of those passengers had to be further examined in a nearby Mumbai hospital for any injuries affecting the ears, nose, and throat. Most of them reportedly suffered barotrauma in the ears when cabin pressure dropped, but were deemed to be in stable condition and told to avoid flying for at least a week.
While Jet Airways hinted it was on top of the issue, passengers who posted on Twitter said that it was a panic situation on board the plane. One video showed passengers understandably nervous while breathing through the oxygen masks, but despite some excited chatter, there were no indications that things were out of control.
Another passenger complained that there was no information being provided to passengers about what was going on, even after the plane landed. Even when the masks were deployed, the passenger said that none of the flight attendants was on hand to provide instructions on how to use them.
According to a civil aviation regulator official, the incident took place shortly after takeoff. A tracking site documenting the incident reported that the Jet Airways flight was at 11,000 feet before circling back to Mumbai. Besides the cabin pressure not being turned on, another report has said that the air conditioning on board had also malfunctioned.
Under normal conditions and at a cruising altitude of 36,000 feet above sea level, pressurization is activated to make conditions comparable to air quality at 8,000 feet.