Lynda Fishman has never been so happy to be back in her Thornhill home.
“I am not sure if I will ever get on a plane again,” the mother of three says after a terrifying incident on an Air Canada flight from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver on Feb. 5.
Lynda was sitting beside her husband Barry when she says the power for the lights and televisions went out, then, “the pilot made an announcement that seemed very short and all of a sudden, the flight attendants rushed to the front,” Lynda says.
Frightened, the pair went to ask what was wrong.
“We were told in a really rude way to get back to our seats,” she said. That’s when Lynda says she began to panic.
Lynda says the pilot came over the load speaker, saying there were concerns about a possible fire in the cargo hold. The aircraft was being diverted to Honolulu, Hawaii, for an emergency landing.
“We were over the ocean… I thought… this cannot end well. My husband had his life vest out… I was so shaky, I couldn’t get mine out. They made us practise bracing ourselves, like leaning forward and putting our face down… I was freaking out… I couldn’t breathe… people were crying,” Lynda recounts with tears in her eyes.
“The staff was being so cold… even after my husband proceeded to tell them I already have a fear of flying.”
It’s a fear that goes back almost 50 years.
On July 5, 1970, Lynda lost her two sisters, Carla and Wendy, and her mother Rita Weinberg, in one of Canada’s deadliest plane crashes to date. Air Canada flight-621 went down near Pearson Airport killing all 109 people onboard.
Back on the plane, Lynda says she could not believe that history was repeating itself. “Like how could I have lost my whole family in a plane crash and now be in one?”
She turned to her husband – unable to breathe, “I said, ‘Should we text the kids… he said, ‘I already did’… His note told our kids where the wills were and how much we loved them.”
Terrified, she says again, she turned to the onboard staff for reassurance.
“I am going to use the word nasty because that is how they came across to us.”
And after what Lynda says was about 40 minutes, the pilot downgraded the emergency landing.
Air Canada tells Global News the incident was due to a false cargo hold indication.
Once in Hawaii, Lynda says she was unable to stop crying. “Air Canada was cold and lacked compassion when they dealt with me and my father in the ’70s… I actually thought they would have evolved.”
In response to Lynda’s concerns, the airline says in part, “It’s not always possible to communicate fully at the time… as crews are occupied with their duties ensuring the safety of all onboard.”
It’s a response Lynda feels is all business… and says she hopes in the future to see more compassion in such a scary situation.