Passengers on fatal Singapore Airlines flight offered $10,000 compensation

Singapore Airlines has offered compensation to passengers who were injured on a flight that was hit by turbulence so severe, one man died on board.

Dozens of people suffered injuries on the Boeing 777 flight from London to Singapore in May after the plane hit turbulence, plunging nearly 200 feet in five seconds.

Passengers with minor injuries have been offered $10,000 (£7,800), the airline said, while those who suffered “serious injuries, requiring long-term medical care” had been offered an “advance payment” of $25,000 (£19,600).

At the time, people described “launching into the ceiling” as more than 100 passengers and staff were left needing hospital treatment, with some undergoing serious “spinal operations”.

The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer REFILE ??? CORRECTING FLIGHT NUMBER FROM
The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 after it made an emergency landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024 (Photo: Reuters)

A 73-year-old British man, Geoffrey Kitchen, died from a suspected heart attack. The pilot declared a medical emergency and landed the plane, carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew, at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on 21 May.

Mr Kitchen who was a musical theatre director from Gloucestershire and has two grown-up children and two grandchildren, was travelling with his wife of more than 50 years, Linda.

In a post on social media, Singapore Airlines repeated an apology for the “traumatic experience” and said that it will provide “a full refund of the air fare to all passengers travelling on SQ321 on 20 May 2024, including those who did not suffer any injuries”.

“All passengers will also receive delay compensation in accordance with the relevant European Union or United Kingdom regulations,” it said.

A preliminary investigation last month found the plane dropped 178ft in only five seconds when it experienced a rapid change in gravitational force while flying over Myanmar.

Geoffrey (Geoff) Kitchen, 73 who died of a heart attack on board Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 Image: Facebook
Geoffrey Kitchen died from a heart attack on board the flight (Photo: Geoffrey Kitchen/Facebook)

Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau, part of the country’s transport ministry, said: “The aircraft experienced a rapid change in G [gravitational force] … This likely resulted in the occupants who were not belted up to become airborne.”

Some passengers were reported to have suffered spinal cord, brain and skull injuries.

As of 4 June, 20 passengers were still receiving medical care in hospitals in Bangkok, the airline said.

It announced that it would change its rules around seatbelts and on-board meals as a result of the incident.

The interior of Singapore Airline flight SQ321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer REFILE ??? CORRECTING FLIGHT NUMBER FROM
People described being “launched into the air” with no warning as the flight hit severe turbulence (Photo: Reuters)

“In addition to the suspension of hot beverage service when the seat belt sign is on, the meal service will also be suspended. Crew members will also return to their seats and secure their seatbelts when the seatbelt sign is on,” Singapore Airlines said

There were 211 passengers, including many Australians, British and Singaporeans, and 18 crew members on the flight.

Dzafran Azmir, a 28-year-old student who was on board the flight, said passengers felt the plane suddenly plunge moments after hitting turbulence.

He told Reuters at the time: “Suddenly the aircraft starts tilting up and there was shaking so I started bracing for what was happening, and very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop so everyone seated and not wearing seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling.

“Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it, they hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it.”

Andrew Davies from Lewisham wrote on social media that he was on the flight and that passengers received “very little warning” to put on their seatbelts.

“The seatbelt sign came on, I put on my seatbelt straightaway then the plane just dropped,” he said.

“I was on that flight and helped as much as I could. Those not injured (including me) are in a holding area at Bangkok airport. My heart goes out to the gentleman who lost his life and his poor wife. Awful experience.

“Lots of people injured – including the air stewards who were stoic and did everything they could. Bangkok emergency services quick to respond.”