Yesterday I flew from Johannesburg to London (an 11 hour flight). An hour and a half from London, an announcement was made that we would be landing in Barcelona in 20 minutes. The cabin crew told us to familiarize ourselves with our nearest emergency exit. An anxious 20 minutes followed. Ambulances and fire engines streamed down the runway next to us as we landed. On landing safely we were told that one of the engines had failed. The pilot and crew had been spectacularly prepared for this eventuality and remained calm throughout.

After about an hour and a half we were taken off the plane and the logistical challenge of getting the passengers from Barcelona to London began. There was no local presence of the airline on which we were travelling, and so there was really no one to turn to in Barcelona. The airline sent out regular email updates to all of us. But it became clear that everyone has their own individual circumstances and it would have made such a difference if there was an opportunity for two way communication. The handling of this situation didn’t end when we landed in Barcelona, it ends when they have every passenger safely back in London. It’s responding to a problem well that makes people our greatest advocates and avoids a PR nightmare.

I was lucky to reach London 12 hours after my scheduled arrival time and I’m hoping to be reunited with my luggage soon. There are still people stranded in Barcelona as I write this. Hoping that they reach their destinations quickly!