AirAsia Passengers Physically Sick After Extreme Humidity And Air Conditioning Combine Onboard

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Cabin temperatures is something that is discussed frequently on this site. Ben is a huge fan of individual air nozzles/vents, regardless of the airline or cabin, which allows air to flow through what is otherwise often a very warm cabin.

I myself have really never understood why cabins are kept so warm, especially on overnight flights where you are given thick, warm bedding. You can be seated in business class and be given a warm blanket despite the cabin being well over 20C/68F. Even without using the pointless blanket, I often wake multiples times during the flight, drenched in sweat.

It makes for an uncomfortable night of sleep, even in a premium class.

Japanese airlines are especially notorious for doing this.

I have read that a warm cabin temperature is a deliberate ploy by the crew to send passengers off to sleep as quickly as possible, because a sleeping cabin is an easy cabin to manage. The problem is that if the temperature remains high after passengers fall asleep, they will wake up regularly because they are uncomfortably warm.

AirAsia India

Earlier this week, an AirAsia India flight 583 from Kolkata to Siliguri, Bagdogra was delayed by over four hours for mechanical reasons.

This is a fairly short, 277 mile domestic flight within India.

Because of the extended delay, the pilot encouraged passengers to leave the aircraft. It was raining heavily outside, so passengers refused (presumably the plane was not connected to a jet bridge, but details are vague at this stage).

Temperatures in Kolkata earlier this week have reached 40C/104F, with humidity as high as 90%. Combine this with rain, and you have extreme humidity, which entered the cabin as the doors were left open, for those passengers who wanted to leave the aircraft.

What happened next depends on who you ask.

The passengers say that the pilot turned the air conditioning on very strong in order to ‘smoke out’ the passengers and ensure they exited. When this air conditioning combined with the extreme humidity, it caused a thick mist within the cabin, causing many passengers to vomit and children to cry.

AirAsia says the air conditioning was simply turned on to lower the temperature, in the hot and humid conditions for the comfort of the passengers, and it was not a deliberate plot by the pilot to try and force passengers to leave.

A spokesperson has said:

“AirAsia India would like to confirm that flight i5583 from Kolkata to Bagdogra was delayed by 4.5 hours due to a technical requirement. AirAsia regrets the inconvenience caused to guests on account of this disruption and would like to reinstate that the airline always prioritises safety above all.

(The air conditioning) is a normal occurrence on-board all aircraft when the air conditioning is operated in high humidity conditions.”

Here is the video from a passenger of the cabin full of mist — pretty scary stuff, that would make me evacuate pretty quickly:

Air Craft is on fire ..Not exactly. Flight no I5 582 of Air Asia to Bagdogra. First they pushed back, then returned to bay .. then anounced technical snag. Kept stationary for one hour on tarmac to instruct deplaning. When passengers objected, put blowers in full blast to hound passengers out. Simply suffocating kids …No food or water in beteeen.This is the way Aviation industry work in India. This #AirAsiaservice was perticularly scary …Avoid Air Aisia …

Posted by Dipankar Ray on Tuesday, June 19, 2018

AirAsia says passengers were provided with food and drinks to compensate for the delay.

Passengers deny this.

Bottom line

If the pilot was desperate for the passengers to leave, surely they could have provided appropriate protection against the elements to encourage them to do so.

I think I’m believing the pilot in this instance, and the awful mist on board was an unfortunate combination or the extreme weather conditions, and air conditioning that was on too strong.

What do you make of this situation? Have you encountered heavy mist on a plane before?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments
  1. getting sick and vomiting from water in the air? interesting…how do these people live on a daily basis?

  2. You can have this happen in your car when you run the ac at full blast when the air in the car is humid . haven’t gotten sick from it though

  3. The cabin temperature of Japanese planes is fine. It’s too cold in many American planes, sometimes i get sick.

  4. I don’t think the crew would intentionally do something to harm the people. I doubt they would have anticipated this happening. It’s a shame passengers/others immediately assume the worst intentions of the crew and pilots.

  5. That’s mist is pretty common in Asia on planes. Happens quite a bit on AirAsia and I’ve never seen anyone be sick. Regardsless AirAsia remains one of my favourite airlines.

  6. This happened to us when we were boarding a flight in Boracay, Philippines. It felt like being at a dance club when the fog machine comes on! I can’t imagine making me sick though…

  7. If the airplane doors were open then the ‘smoke’ is normal occurence due the combination of the AC and the warm humid weather.
    I still think this is a case of overreacting and i even had a laugh when i read this.

    Isn’t it usually the opposite; in that people complain that they were left in a warm plane during a delay of over 2hrs and would have liked to go outside? If they weren’t connected to an airbridge, i still doubt it that pilot expected them to run from the plane to the boarding area or sth in the heavy rains.
    Or the Pax thought the flight would be cancelled if they left the plane…..

  8. Unbelievable that you’re running with this non-story and blowing it out of proportion along with everyone else. You should know better. Pax maybe had heat exhaustion or symptoms of heat stroke, judging by the description, but the AC and condensation in the cabin would have nothing to do with that.

  9. On a different topic that you brought up initially: why most foreign carriers (other than US3) like the cabin warm?

    I’m American citizen but born and raised in Asia, I could probably say… because most people in Asia don’t like it cold like Americans? We don’t like air blowing either. It’s uncomfortable to have air flowing. It’s a battle with American friends everywhere I go in this country. I’m comfortable at 75F degrees+. People complain about Lufthansa being warm too, but many of my close German friends tend to like it warm and make fun of Americans that turn air condition so high. Many people complained about air nozzles on points and miles forums are American based?

    People could argue if it’s cold you could wrap yourself with blankets but for most people who fly Asian carriers they rather wear less layers (1 is preferable) and feel more comfortable. And we prefer hard bedding, the harder the better.

    I’m fine flying any carriers except US3 that I think it’s way too cold. I have to wear too many layers and not comfortable moving around or work on my laptop. Maybe Lucky can write about portable heater for foreigners to fly US3 carriers?

  10. 20°C is too hot for you? What do you set the temperature of your home A/C to?
    No wonder our planet is dying…

  11. @Concorde02 Americans been raised in cold homes kids dragged around barefoot even in winter. people with sandals and shorts in snow so no wonder. In asia i wear one extra layer when flying ai air asia as they used to crank up the Ac.

  12. Good Lord, it’s just condensation! I cannot imagine how “fog” would make anyone vomit. Considering the conditions described outside, I’d have been encouraged to stay IN the aircraft where it’s nice and cool. What a non-story this is. Anyone who vomits over this should not be allowed to get out of bed in the morning – because it’s too hazardous!

    Speaking of which, I have to agree with you about Japanese airliners being kept waaaaay too warm. A trait that’s common throughout Japan; I’ve been in offices there that were set at about 84F (no exaggeration – I actually checked).

  13. That is very common. I remember in the summer time in Southeast Asia, where it was very hot and humid outside. The crew blasted the heat to keep things cool and mist was formed as a result. I do not think it was intentional, but just a scientific result.

  14. Really? This is what makes people in India sick and vomit. For the life of me I would think it would be a litany of other things that would cause this problem.

    As for the gaspers (air vents) on the plane, those that don’t like air blowing on them can always turn close them.

  15. Here in Houston, this is a pretty common occurrence, especially on Airbus aircraft due to the high humidity. I remember when I first moved here and saw this on an AA A319, cabin crew had to constantly reassure pax that it was just water vapor and not smoke despite it having zero odor. What’s more concerning is 104 degrees with 90% humidity, that has to be unbearable.

  16. “People could argue if it’s cold you could wrap yourself with blankets but for most people who fly Asian carriers they rather wear less layers (1 is preferable) and feel more comfortable.” I could be in my underwear and be uncomfortable above 78F. Thermodynamics 101 says you err on the cooler side.

  17. Correction: the flight number is 583, not 5583. AirAsia has written i5583 (actually, that should be I5583, with the I uppercase) in its statement. Also, Indians generally put a space between the airline code and the number, so they prefer writing ‘I5 583’ to ‘I5583’. This isn’t the case elsewhere.

  18. Like all good Americans, I set my air conditioning to 65 degrees FAHRENHEIT, open the doors and windows, and turn on my gas fireplace. Feels like freedom!!!

  19. I’ve seen this cloudy fog in cabins before in Texas, Florida and other southern states during the summertime. I don’t recall ever getting sick or seeing anyone else react. I’m sure those cabins dry out rather quickly once in flight.

    On the several hundred flights I’ve taken in my long travel history, I can report that I’ve been cold only once or twice. However, I have been very warm dozens of times, on all types of aircraft from an assortment of carriers. And for the record, I am a very thin woman. I’ve been told that AA is the “coolest” flight in the skies and I never have cabin comfort issues on their flights. The absolute worst was a Lufthansa TATL flight a few years ago – like being in a 10 hour sauna! I actively avoid airlines that I know to have hot, stagnant cabins. Lucky and James are absolutely correct – cabin air temperature and circulation is a big deal.

  20. They definitely didn’t get “smoked” out. Hard to believe that aircraft have a function to harm passengees lol. Been on many flights in the tropics, where when ac is first turned on, condensation comes out from the vents, for a few minutes, albeit less thick. Though pax would probbaly get freaked out and make a big deal out of it since they probbaly don’t encounter that situation much.

  21. If you listen to the video it is obvious that the passengers panicked and totally freaked out. Their hysteria probably caused some of them to feel faint or to feel ill. Because it was an internal flight there were probably a significant number of pax who had never flown as well which would add to the panic.

    Water vapour from an ac unit is very common but probably more common on older airplanes or in previous times. Remember many flights where the ac would produce the “fog” from the units until the cabin became a reasonable and the humidity subsided. This aircraft had its doors open so the humidity would not decrease and thus the fog would continue to be generated.

    The hysterical way that bloggers have taken this all out of proportion without checking the science is symptomatic of our modern society. sigh!

  22. Concorde02 – I agree with you about not liking air blowing except for one part of Asia: Hong Kong. People here love constant air blowing and absolutely freezing air con, set up to maximum fan speed, preferably with a couple of standalone fans to encourage “ventilation”. I absolutely hate it.

    I lived in Japan and am not surprised when Japanese airlines keep the cabin warm. It’s normal in shops and hotels in winter, and even in hot, humid summer they have an initiative called “cool biz” – no need to wear a tie and can wear short sleeves, and air con is low and set at 25 or so.

  23. This extreme fog in cabins is quite in India during monsoons. I have encountered it many times flying out of BOM and BLR, during monsoon. I seriously wonder how could pure water make anyone uncomfortable or vomit. All it causes is low visibility and that’s it.

  24. Ansett NZ’s Bae146s used to ‘steam’ quietly from the a/c vents above the seats on the ground in the humid summers with the cabin doors open. Used to scare first timers on that aircraft type. Especially when accompanied by the oily smell that model was notorious for.

    Could also be done with R12 refrigerant equipped cars till the greenies got that most efficient a/c coolant banned. Later systems don’t get quite as cold internally.

  25. lol I think you maybe answered your own question. Perhaps the cabins are kept “warm” for the hundreds of passengers in economy who don’t have blankets?….

  26. There is literally mist inside the cabin on every Hawaiian Airlines flight I’ve ever been on. It’s obviously due to the humidity in the region. I am unsure how passengers could have gotten sick from something like this.

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