A British tourist has claimed an emergency exit on an Emirates Airline superjumbo blew open at more than 8,000 metres on a flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong.
David Reid and his son Lewis heard what they thought was a "massive explosion" two hours into Monday's flight on the £250 million (HK$3 billion) Airbus A380. Freezing air blasted in and the cabin pressure plunged after the door in business class came 4cm ajar, leaving a gaping hole, Reid said.
A spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Department said it had not received any complaints about the incident. She said it should be investigated by the industry regulator in the country in which the airline was registered as there had been no accident and no assistance was sought. The department would not require a report from the airline.
Reid's 18-year-old son reported the incident to the British Department of Transport's air accident investigation branch, which has passed it on to air investigators at the United Arab Emirates General Authority for Civil Aviation.
Reid told Britain's Daily Mail: "We were about two hours in when suddenly there was a huge blast. It was a real shock, so loud that I thought a bomb might have gone off. Air was gushing into the cabin like a gale."
He said a stewardess jumped up and stared at the door. Her face drained white and she ran up the aisle, grabbed the intercom and started screaming: "The door's going to go, the door's going to go!" Then she hid under her chair.
Other passengers were crying and saying: "We're going to go down, we're going to go down," Reid said. "It was complete panic. The emergency door was ajar and leaving a gaping hole. You could see straight out into the atmosphere."
He claimed that some passengers wept in terror.
Instead of making an emergency landing, Reid said the crew decided to stuff blankets and pillows stuck together with gaffer tape into the hole and continue the flight despite a horrendous droning noise and sub-zero temperatures.
An Airbus spokesman said: "It is not possible for a cabin door to open [in flight]. We can confirm there was a whistling noise emanating from one of the doors on the [plane's] upper deck between Bangkok and Hong Kong on Monday. But at no point was the safety of the flight in jeopardy."
Reid claims he suffered a chest infection following the ordeal and he and his son had to cut short a £4,500 trip.
Emirates in Hong Kong could not be reached for comment.