Passengers on board a flight began saying their goodbyes when the plane plunged 20,000ft.
The Aegean Airlines flight was travelling from Greece to Barcelona when it got into trouble on Monday, July 3rd.
The plane had left Thessaloniki with 156 passengers and six crew at 12:30 pm, but disaster struck less than an hour into the journey, with oxygen masks dropping suddenly and people screaming.
One of those on board was 90s popstar Chesney Hawkes, who was travelling with his wife Krissy at the time.
“We thought we were going down,” the 51-year-old recalled.
“Our ears hurt and babies were crying. The pilot came over the loudspeaker and said, ‘Emergency descent — brace’.”
“One of the stewardesses was in a fetal position on the floor trying to get a mask on while also trying to talk to us over the intercom.”
“The plane was rattling and banked so steeply we looked out and could see the sea. We thought we were going into the water. Krissy and I looked at each other and hugged.”
Fearing they wouldn’t make it out alive, passengers began calling their loved ones to tell them they loved them and say goodbye.
Hawkes said that even the cabin crew were terrified and in tears.
“We left a voice message on the family WhatsApp group,” said the dad-of-three. “We were both crying and told the kids how proud we were of them and how much we loved them.
“There was no other information. The stewards were crying and everyone around us was hysterical.
“Then suddenly the plane stopped rattling and the descent slowed.”
Fortunately for those on board, the plane did not have to make an emergency landing and was able to divert to Naples in Italy instead.
“The stewardess said we would be making an emergency landing,” Hawkes recalled.
“Everyone was terrified again. People had their arms and legs braced against the seat in front of them. In the end the landing was OK, if a bit bumpy.”
And when they managed to make it down in one piece, the singer said the landing was met with screams of joy.
He said: “There was a massive cheer — I cheered louder than when the Hammers won the Europa Conference.”
Following the ordeal, Hawkes posted a photo of him with the pilot who steered them to safety.
Thanking him, he said: “Thank u 2 all that kept their heads cool, especially #captainfantastic for landing our plane safely 2day.
“This was not what we expected 2day, but it’s made us appreciate life and those we love just that little bit more.”
In a statement, Aegean Airlines said another plane was later dispatched to take passengers to Barcelona.
“Aegean Airlines would like to inform that flight A3 560, departing from Thessaloniki to Barcelona, with 156 passengers and 6 crew members, was diverted to Naples airport following a gradual decompression during cruise,” a spokesperson said.
“The captain following procedures requested to divert into the nearest airport and all passengers were safely disembarked.
“Another aircraft has already been dispatched to ensure passengers can continue their journey to their final destination.”