• Oxygen masks deployed on a United flight from San Francisco to Maui last week.
  • A passenger said people on the plane were terrified, and he was planning what to do if it went down.
  • Another recent United flight, which was also a Boeing 777, had oxygen masks "inadvertently" deployed.

Ryan Scott, a chef based in Marin County, California, was heading to a Hawaii vacation with his family of four when he suddenly found himself in a scene out of a nightmare.

Scott, his wife, and their two young daughters were flying United from San Francisco to Maui on June 18 when, about two and a half hours in, the flight experienced minor turbulence — nothing out of the ordinary, he said — and oxygen masks deployed from the ceiling.

"You could literally stop traffic with just the gasp of air in the plane," Scott told Business Insider, adding, "There was a lot of WTF and dead silence."

Scott said his first thought was that they were not over land and wouldn't be near an airport to make an emergency landing.

"When you are halfway over the Pacific Ocean, the worst goes through your head," he said.

Scott quickly started planning with his wife. "People are going to be very pushy if we go down. Here's the deal," he said to her. He told her to grab their licenses and put them in her pocket, noted where the closest door was and how to grab the seat cushions, and said he'd grab the girls when it was time to go.

He said some passengers quickly started to panic, with at least one person near him hyperventilating.

"People were crying, people were very, very scared," he said.

Scott's wife, Lesley Scott, said the flight attendants urgently asked passengers to put the oxygen masks on, which they thought meant this was not a mistake and that something was actually wrong.

Scott said that his daughters had little headphones on and were on their iPads, so in order to prevent them from freaking out, his wife framed it as a game that they would now watch with the masks on too.

He also said that he took a cue from the flight attendants, who remained seated during the ordeal and were calm and collected, adding that they deserved a lot of credit.

They said about 20 minutes had passed without any updates. Eventually, the pilot came on and said they had descended to a lower altitude but to keep their masks on for now.

Then they got another update that there had apparently been a "sensor malfunction" that caused the masks to fall, Scott said. He said the pilot said there was no need for a mask and that "he was going to climb back up, and then drinks were on United."

"And that's when people were getting double vodka sodas," Scott added.

Scott said after the flight the only communication he received from United were emails asking how their service was.

He said United had "dropped the ball," adding, "People felt like they were going to die, and that's the truth."

In a statement provided to Business Insider, United said: "A small number of oxygen masks inadvertently deployed during the flight. There were no pressurization issues, our pilots followed appropriate procedures in a situation like this, and the aircraft landed safely as scheduled at Kahului Airport. "

The aircraft, a Boeing 777, had more than 360 passengers on board.

About a week prior, oxygen masks also "inadvertently deployed" on a transatlantic United flight from Paris to Washington, DC. The aircraft in that incident was also a Boeing 777.

It's unclear why the masks "inadvertently deployed" in either case.

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular hours.

Similarly, in that incident, United said the air pressure in the cabin was normal and the flight landed safely.

Scott said the experience was "like a weird dream" and that he feels blessed his family is safe.

But he added that a lot of people on his flight "were clapping and kissing the ground when we got out, that's for sure."

If you enjoyed this story, be sure to follow Business Insider on Microsoft Start.

2024-06-25T04:01:43Z dg43tfdfdgfd