A flying Champagne cork has damaged an aircraft sufficiently for the pilot to divert an international flight to an intermediate point and make an emergency landing.
Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling after the cork smashed ceiling panels on an easyJet plane halfway through a four-hour flight from London Gatwick to Dalaman, Turkey.
It happened after a passenger ordered Champagne and a flight attendant opened a new bottle.
The effects of the ballistic cork forced the pilot to put down in Italy for repairs.
The Aviation Herald, which usually reports aviation events deadpan, headlined the incident: “Easyjet A320 near Milan on Aug 7th 2015, loss of Champagne pressure”.
The plane landed safely. The publication reported that the aircraft remained on the ground in Milan for about 90 minutes, then departed again and reached Dalaman with a delay of 3.5 hours.
News of the incident didn’t surface for over two weeks, perhaps because of the airline’s embarrassment over the whole thing.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph carried a statement by easyJet:
“easyJet can confirm that flight EZY8845 from London Gatwick to Dalaman on 7 August diverted to Milan Malpensa as a precautionary measure due to a technical issue with the cabin crew oxygen masks.
“In line with safety procedures the captain took the correct decision to divert so that the cabin crew oxygen masks could be reset. The flight continued to Dalaman 1 hour and 7 minutes later once this had happened. Passengers were provided with a complimentary inflight service whilst on the ground in Milan Malpensa.
“The safety and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is always easyJet’s highest priority. We would like to apologise for the delay and any inconvenience caused.”
The paper quoted a passenger saying they could see the lighter side now but it wasn’t funny at the time.
“All that hassle, delay and money wasted by easyJet – all over a champagne cork!”
Written by Peter Needham