- A Vueling pilot fled his plane after an explosion, leaving the passengers behind.
- A passenger told The Sun that the captain ran away as soon as the flight attendant opened the door.
- Most of his crew followed, with only one flight attendant left to look after the passengers.
A passenger said the pilot of a passenger plane abandoned all on board after being the first to flee the plane after a loud explosion.
Andrew Benion told The Sun he was on a Vueling flight from Barcelona to Birmingham in the UK when smoke started to fill the plane.
The flight attendants panicked and ran down the aisle when the explosion happened, and one of them alerted the captain. As soon as the front door opened, the captain rushed out, followed by most of the cabin crew, Benion told the newspaper.
“It was completely shocking. Suddenly there was a huge bang and smell of burning smoke coming from the back of the plane,” he said, adding “all the lights went out and the emergency lights came on — it was terrifying.”
Benion said the crew had not given clear instructions to passengers and that a flight attendant had a “meltdown,” The Sun reported.
“One ran into the cockpit to tell the captain. When a flight attendant opened the front door, the captain immediately ran away. He had just left. He was the first off the plane.’
Most of the cabin crew also fled. Benion said the lone flight attendant “started yelling for everyone to get off. The Spanish person next to us translated and said ‘the plane is on fire’.”
He concluded, “We couldn’t believe the captain left us like this – he ran to safety and we were all sitting there like lemmings.”
The passenger compared the actions of the pilot with those of the captain of the Costa Concordia – a cruise ship that slammed into rocks off the Italian coast in January 2012.
Francesco Schettin initially refused help, but the ship began to sink and he fled in a lifeboat as passengers jumped into the water, killing 32. He is now serving a 16-year prison sentence.
Insider contacted International Airlines Group, which owns both Vueling and British Airway, for comment.