an airplane on the runway
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Last week I had a very bizarre incident on American Airlines Flight 243 from New York JFK to Miami. I was travelling as part of my #wheresgilbert upgrade giveaways and had specifically chosen the flight based on the wide body Boeing 777-200, which offered a flat bed business class seat on a route which typically offers the old style reclining seats.

Within minutes of boarding, there was an order to evacuate immediately as fumes filled the cabin and smoke was reported. I wrote it off as a one off, these things happen, but then last night, I got a message from someone saying they had an identical experience!

an airplane on the runway
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American Airlines Flight 243

All in all, American handled my evacuation well. No slides were deployed which meant better safety for those on the ground and crew were very clear and forceful with their instructions. I applaud them. If only the same could’ve been said for AA customer service during my rebooking.

I was grateful that the incident happened at the gate, and not at 30,000 feet and I put the experience behind me. Since then, I’ve been on 9 separate flights, so that kinda helps too. Anyway, it was all in the past until I received a tweet last night, and pictures of fire trucks surrounding a familiar looking Boeing 777-200 aircraft, parked at the same gate!

It’s worth noting that my emergency deplaning involved a Boeing 777-200 with a different aircraft registration – in other words – it wasn’t the same exact plane, but I find it incredibly odd that a fleet with generally good reliability is having such similar issues in short spans of time.

What’s Going On?

Now obviously, I have no idea what’s going on with this plane. I’m not an American Airlines mechanic nor do I have an engineering background of any kind. But I do know that the Boeing 777-200 has been a roller coaster for American Airlines.

The toilets are famous for going out of service, and the seats installed had their own issues too. Obviously, that’s not the end of it. American, for their part, isn’t helping anyone learn anything either. In my instance, they tried to tell me my flight was delayed due to air traffic control, which didn’t go down too well with any air traffic controllers.

In this latest instance, they’ve again written the delay in as a “mechanical issue” and are keeping quiet as to any reason why their fleet of Boeing 777-200’s seem to be encountering potentially dangerous issues in close succession of each other. Does anyone have any insight? American has done a scary good job at keeping these incidents under wraps. In fact, if you Google them, nothing comes up.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. As an Aircraft Technician smoke anywhere on an Aircraft in flight or on the ground is a serious issue an can have numerous causes. Anything from the fans used to cool the electronics bays not functioning, or not functioning properly, to environmental component malfunctions. In any of these maintenance related problems airlines aren’t forthcoming with explanations as to what exactly caused it because frankly, it scares passengers. Not to mention unduly burdens them while traveling. Especially if it can be fixed without extensive damage to the Aircraft or injury to people. Most people wouldn’t know what they were talking about if they did explain.

  2. Thank you for writing this! Clearly the media isn’t paying attention to this issue, even if just a fluke. Seems suspicious.

  3. Hmmm. This is a WAG, and maybe a stretch, but one thing in common with these two flight is the ground power supply… 400 volt 3 phase power. If the power is provided at the jetway prior to departure, perhaps there is a problem there. It some point, the pilots will fire up the APU and transfer the power from the GPU to the APU. Could there be a problem with the transfer causing some electrical smoke or burning smell? Just a thought.

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