In-flight emergencies – what are the odds?

51134297_efeb571479Standing at row 33 behind the beverage cart, I handed a passenger a Diet Coke with extra lime. That’s when another passenger came racing up behind me and yelled, “There’s a fire in the bathroom!”

A fire on the airplane is one of my biggest fears as a flight attendant. Only because I’m quite familiar with how quickly a fire can get out of control. Once, years ago, I lit an Aveda travel candle and placed it on a shelf in the bathroom of my crash pad. As luck would have it, the Aveda candle was housed in a silver tin that got so hot it melted the plastic shelf. The candle dropped into a wicker basket full of tissue. Within seconds the flames climbed the walls and jumped onto the fluffy toilet seat cover. To make a long story short, I frantically fought the fire and eventually was able to put it out. I was lucky that day.

I looked up the aisle at the lavatory the passenger was now pointing at, and though I couldn’t see any smoke, I turned to my colleague and said, “Call the Captain. I’ll be right back.”

Did I happen to mention that FAA was on board scrutinizing our every move?

My heart raced as I walked up the aisle. I had barely cracked the accordion door open when I heard passengers coughing loudly throughout the cabin. Smoke began billowing out of the trash receptacle. A cigarette, I guessed.

“I can’t breath!” I heard several passengers scream.

Quickly I shut the door, opened an overhead bin, grabbed a bottle of halon, pulled out the pin, and pushed the lavatory door back open. Pointing the hose at the fire, I pressed the lever and sprayed. I also prayed. Two seconds later a colleague handed me another bottle of halon. When that was empty, another tank was placed in my hands. The smoke grew thicker and thicker as the coughing got louder and louder. A giant hazmat-looking-hood that covers the entire head and provides oxygen while fighting fires was thrust upon me.

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Heather Poole View All →

Yeah, that's me, the one standing in the aisle wearing flammable polyester...

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