The One Where The Flight Caught Fire

Neelchandra Roy
7 min readJul 22, 2021


Do you miss those days when you could travel freely without the fear of catching a new and updated virus variant? Now we just live with the good old travel memories. But planning for a trip was never that easy though, from selecting a destination according to one’s budget, to booking tickets and stays and most importantly, making sure you have covered all the important locations of your chosen destination. But now, along with all those booking and stuff you need to go for RT PCR test, vaccine certificate and a ton of other stuff which makes even the thought of going on a vacation stressful. And needless to say about the added list if you are planning on an international trip in this current situation, unless you have a private jet and just get up on the flight and say “chalo driver”. Well I don’t really know how it works for private jet owners.

Well traveling and all is fine but what about if the trip leaves a memory not because of all the good things you experienced through it but because of that one traumatic incident in the trip that you just can’t get over. Just imagine that you are sitting comfortably in a flight and suddenly something happens that makes you think it’s the end of your life. But as it is said bad experiences make good stories (only if you are alive after that) and my life gives me such amazing stories to talk about. So, here is another one from my travel diary and I can assure you that it is no less interesting than the ones in the movies.

It was the time when we were returning to India after our vacation in Malaysia. And there we were at the Kuala Lumpur airport, with our Malysian converted currency(Ringgit) almost to the verge of exhaustion. And, we neither had any intention to convert more INR to Ringgit just to purchase stuff at the airport. The point was we didn’t want to carry back extra unusable currency back to India. But considering the fact that there were still more than a couple of hours left before our departure, we were naturally hungry. So we decided to eat whatever we could get from the airport with the last ringgits in our pocket.

Crossing through the Burger King joint, my brother and I checked out the menu and found that nothing suits our current budget. But passing through, it seemed like those hefty burger patties at the grill were calling me. *Things foodie people will understand.* Then we moved to the next food store from where we could at least get something to fill our bellies with.. Our eyes caught the stack of the big cup noodle buckets where you just needed to pour hot water and voila it’s ready. Well you all know how it works duh! So we got 3 such lage cups, you can also call it bucket as it looked like one of those KFC buckets. We shared those 3 buckets among 5 of us. Though the quantity of it didn’t go well with our hunger at that moment, leaving us still with partial hunger. But now we just had to wait for half an hour for the flight and then there we would be served with a nice dinner.

So the flight eventually took off and we were comfortably settled in our economy class seats. Cut short to dinner time-The air hostess went around giving out the food packages and asked for the passengers’ food preferences. But you know what, whatever food option you choose in a flight it doesn’t make much difference, it all tastes the same, bland. I still can’t figure out whether it is the altitude which makes the food taste different or is the food actually bland and tasteless. Nevermind because domestic flights me to free me utna bhi ni milta.

After the meal we went off to sleep, well I anticipated falling asleep. But each time I tried to, my head would lean forward to touch the screen in front of me and the screen would light up. So I gave up on any more sleep trials and decided to watch a movie instead. After scrolling through the menu I landed on the same movie which I have already watched for at least a zillion times now because most of the other available movies were in alien languages. Flights probably don’t give much importance to updating their watchlist.

Suddenly in our otherwise smooth journey, there came a jerk- not hypothetically, I mean a literal jerking. Though jerks are quite normal when the weather is bad and so it wasn’t a concern for most of the passengers. Post that, came a burnt smell which was slowly filling in the flight. Passengers naturally enquired about where the smell was coming from. To this, an airhostess replied that it was just the steak on the grill that got burnt. Since my father was sitting close to the window he noticed something unusual, a stream of smoke was seen coming from underneath the right wing of the flight. All of a sudden the flight started shuddering even more and eventually all the tv screens behind the seats were turned off. Passengers were scared, everyone grabbed their valuable stuff and most importantly their kids who were traveling along.

Then came the announcement by the pilot in the cockpit to which the nervous buzz of the passengers was turned to pin drop silence, even the smallest babies stopped crying as they could feel the intensity of the situation. “Passengers and cabin crew please be seated with the seat belts fastened. There is an unforeseen situation here. The right engine of the flight has partially caught fire damaging one of the engines but dont panic as the flight has 2 engines we will try our best to retreat back to Kuala Lumpur airport. We are flying over the Indian Ocean and there are no other runways nearby.” The announcement endended, and the flight was filled with dead silence. It was the true pin drop silence that our school teachers wanted us to maintain in the class.

Everyone was holding the hands of their dear ones as tight as one could. There was a fear of the end coming near. Silent prayers continued and people just refused to look out of the window to see one side of the flight blazing fire.

We were still lucky as the entire family was together. A situational thought brushed through our mind that even if we die we are gonna die together. And inside everyone just knew that it was the end as even if we went down there was no ground to land on, we would just be in the immense of the ocean and needless to say, none of us knew swimming. Even if we could swim, there were least chances that we would ever go home. Sounds too dramatic, I know, but being in a situation like that it is tough to have positive thoughts.

It was one hour down since the last announcement by the pilot and there was a way to go to reach the Kuala Lumpur airport in one piece. But then the pilot announced, “Hold on firmly to your seats, we are about to land”. Clearly this was the most relieving as well as dangerous announcement because landing is the trickiest part in such a situation. The flight came down with a shuddering jerk which no one has ever experienced before, and then the flight came to a halt, and people regained their senses. Claps and cheers followed. Each and every passenger in the flight clapped and cheered for the pilots for saving their lives. On that day I saw true superheroes in the form of the two pilots. Both the pilots came out of the cockpit and it was a celebrity moment for them, well they truly deserved that.

Then we were back to Kuala Lumpur airport until our alternative flight was arranged. It was past midnight in KL and the environment in the airports was one after the war. People were calling their family and friends to keep them updated about their condition and that they were safe. People were still nervous and hungry. And, it was very thoughtful of the airport authority to distribute food coupons, along with the coupons, they also distributed a printed letter of apology to each and every passenger present in that particular flight.

We took our food coupons and rushed to form a queue outside the designated food joint. The food joint assigned to us i.e the non veg section of the crowd was BURGER KING. Yeah you heard that right. It was that very food joint we couldn’t afford earlier and now we could avail it for FREE. My brother and I looked at each other and no words were required to interpret what we had in our minds at that time. Fate was appearing in big, bold and red letters reading burger king.

And a second thought came to my mind that the engine burn in the flight was maybe because we were destined to have burgers there. But later I just tried to divert my thoughts to think something else as the former thought made me the culprit in some way. You know what I mean.

Image source- Google



Neelchandra Roy

A passionate Observer| Writer| photographer.