Singapore Airlines Tragedy: The Danger of Air Turbulence


On May 21st, 2024, a Singapore Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok after encountering sudden turbulence due to thunderstorms. The severe turbulence resulted in dozens of passengers getting badly injured and one person died following the emergency landing.

In this blog post by Pacific Prime CXA, we will be discussing the danger of air turbulence in light of the Singapore Airlines tragedy to raise awareness on air travel safety amidst potential turbulence and why it’s important to secure travel insurance.

Overview: The Singapore Airlines Tragedy

On Tuesday May 21st, 2024, Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members, originally headed from London Heathrow to Singapore, was forced to divert to and make an emergency landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok due to sudden air turbulence.

The aircraft took off at 10:37 pm on Monday night for a routine flight to Southeast Asia and suddenly encountered severe air turbulence from thunderstorms over the Bay of Bengal before 9 am British time.

Seven minutes later, the aircraft was forced to rapidly take a turn to Bangkok where it landed at 9:45 am in Suvarnabhumi Airport.

In the aftermath of the airline tragedy, 30 people were injured and one person died. In response to the fatality, Singapore Airlines offered condolences in a statement and deeply apologized for “the traumatic experience that our passengers and crew members suffered on this flight”.

What is Turbulence?

Turbulence is unstable air movement caused by wind speed and direction changes such as thunderstorms, cold and warm weather fronts, and jet streams. Turbulence can range in severity and cause minor to dramatic changes in altitude and air speed.

There are four classifications for turbulence, such as light, moderate, severe, and extreme. In case of extreme turbulence, pilots could lose control of the aircraft and face structural damage. In severe cases, turbulence can also cause structural damage to the plane depending on the wind strength.

Air Travel Safety During Turbulence

The first thing you have to do in order to stay safe during turbulence while on a plane is to always keep your seatbelt snugly fastened, which can prevent you from being propelled off of your seat and potentially hitting the ceiling in the event of a sudden drop.

If you’re walking in the aisle, find the nearest seat available. Sit down and fasten your seatbelt immediately. Make sure to also secure large, heavy belongings such as laptops or large metal water bottles to prevent them from being flung around and possibly hurting you and other passengers.

Turbulence and Air Sickness

Air sickness occurs when the ear sends movement signal while the eyes send stillness signal to the brain, which confuses the latter and results in symptoms such as dizziness and vomiting. Sudden movements in the aircraft from turbulence can also lead to air sickness.

In case of air turbulence, do your best to remain calm and still. Take a deep breath and try to keep your head against the headrest of your seat to reduce movement. To prevent air sickness, refrain from eating spicy foods that could upset your stomach, and stay hydrated before and during the flight.

Travel With Insurance: The Importance of Travel Insurance

Now that you know about the danger of air turbulence as seen in the Singapore Airlines tragedy, it’s evident that the risk of injuries exists even in the most peaceful flight. Thus, it’s crucial to secure travel insurance to safeguard your finances from potentially overwhelming medical bills.

Travel insurance offers financial protection in cases of injuries or illnesses, as well as luggage loss and delay during your vacation overseas. Let’s say you sustained injuries from sudden air turbulence, this is where your travel insurance policy covers medical expenses for your injuries.

Travel Insurance Recommendations

Which type of travel insurance you should select will depend on the duration of your trip or if you’re bringing along your spouse and children along on your trip.

For example, a single trip option would be ideal for one-off trips for a set period of time while an annual or multi-trip option is a more cost-effective alternative for those looking to take more than two trips within a whole year.

Alternatively, for parents with children under the age of 18, the family option is strongly recommended as this covers both the parents and their children in case of luggage loss, injuries, or illnesses.

Secure Health Insurance with Pacific Prime CXA

By keeping your seatbelts securely fastened and making necessary dietary adjustments before the flight in case of air sickness, you can stay safe in the event of sudden air turbulence in the middle of your flight.

However, despite your best efforts to stay safe during air turbulence, you still run the risk of injuries during your flight, and medical bills in Singapore can be especially costly in comparison to your home country. Fortunately, this is where Pacific Prime CXA comes in.

As a leading international health insurance broker, Pacific Prime CXA has helped match both expats and local citizens to a health insurance plan that matches both their budget range and unique health insurance needs. More specifically, travel insurance is one area you should never overlook.

Whether you’re an expat or local citizen seeking health insurance in Singapore, or you’re looking to stay safe during your trip, our team of specialists will be more than happy to help you out. And if you have any questions, please get in touch with us or have a free no-obligation plan comparison.

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Wish Sutthatothon (Nickname: Guy) is currently a content writer at Pacific Prime Thailand, an insurance broker that connects individuals and businesses with insurance providers worldwide. He creates and edits blog articles, guides, reports, webpages, and other types of digital content.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts, Media & Communication major (concentration: Creative Content) from Mahidol University International College (MUIC). During the compulsory major elective period in the summer of 2021 and voluntarily during the summer of 2022, he also interned as a video and photo editor at Mbrella Films.

He has experience working as an English Content Writer at a real estate buying/renting/selling platform in Thonglor. There, he crafted company blog posts on a multitude of topics. Topics include market trends, legal issues and disputes in property businesses, financial guides, expat guides, home insurance, home decoration and maintenance, and weekly real estate news quick-recaps. Occasionally, as part of the blog-writing process, he would also translate existing Thai blogs to English.

In his free time, Guy enjoys doing scriptwriting and storytelling for comic strips, watching movies, and listening to music (particularly film scores).

Wish Sutthatothon
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