Number one in my list is to conduct a photo-shoot! then eat, chit-chat with other crew or passengers, then nap (just kidding) lolz! Have fun flying! =)
Number one in my list is to conduct a photo-shoot! then eat, chit-chat with other crew or passengers, then nap (just kidding) lolz! Have fun flying! =)
I know I haven’t’ been posting about my travels for more than a year now and many has been questioning me already – but Yes! I’m still a Flight Attendant. I still do travel. I’ve been to Cairo-Egypt, Copenhagen-Denmark and Verona-Italy this year and a lot more. It would be the same reason why I haven’t posted anything lately. It’s either I’m busy with photo shoots, gym, too lazy or no time because I always go home to Manila during my long day offs to see the development of the renovation of my Condo unit.
For many, a desire to explore the world is hard to ignore, but for me I’ve always have a desire to see the place whenever I saw it in movies, series or even history book or travel channels. I love places with so much stories. It fascinates me. It makes me want to be in that place wherever it is. Thank God for this flying career that sends me to almost any destination I want.The canals and architecture of Venice make it especially cinematic that made it one of the favorite location for movies like The Tourist- stars Angelina and Johnny Depp in a romantic thriller that takes place almost entirely in Venice. It’s a beautiful look at the city of Venice so worth watching for the scenery and who can’t forget about Venice’s role in Indiana Jones third installment? Venice is one of several locations featured in the explorer’s quest for the Holy Grail.
Connecting the districts of San Polo and San Marco across the Grand Canal in the heart of the city, the Rialto Bridge has always been busy crossing in Venice.
The crowd there will convince you that you are at the most famous square of Venice. It is the largest square in Venice and you will see people sitting and enjoying their wine, artists drawing portraits, and notorious pigeons flocking around the tourists. The impressive St. Mark Basilica is a must-see.Get down at Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge to cross the Grand Canal. There are a variety of restaurants here. Have your Lunch and wander about lazily on the streets of Venice. Cross the tiny bridges and have a peek at the real Venice, You will feel that the city seems to exist for tourists alone and most of these houses are either hotels or empty.
*** Again please be aware of impostors and scammers who keep using my pictures! –https://starvillanueva.com/2011/04/30/beware-of-scammers/
“Despite of sleepless nights, turning day into night & having abnormal sleeping patterns, I honestly feel so lucky & privilege having all these things so I might as well share it with you…” Blah Blah! It’s an excerpt from my article that I published 5 years ago. I can still say those lines till now but Life as we all know is full of ups and downs. We have summer & winter, day & night and there’s always a sad part in someone’s happy life.
Whenever I told someone, I’m resigning soon. They’re always giving me a shocking look with the big question WHY!? (Maybe because It’s a given fact that I have a very positive job description) and whenever, they asked WHEN? I kept saying anytime! I’m definite with my answer. Yes, you’ve read it right, ANYTIME. Don’t nod your head left & right while saying NO, till you read my recap, this is not just about “Missing Home“
Being an International Flight Attendant for almost 5 years now. I still believe that everyday is a new learning experience. Flying from one continent to another is still something I considered new to me! Yes, I’m still not used to it! How will I used to a lifestyle that is not considered normal? Yesterday, I’m in New York, Today I’m in Kuala Lumpur, tomorrow, I’ll be in Zurich for the nth time. If I were to elaborate the stories in between, believe me it will fill a hundred page book or more. I’m not complaining and don’t accuse me of bragging here, I’m just innocently telling you my daily not-so-typical lifestyle.
So, here I am came back from a 14hrs flight. My feet are swollen from prolong standing, I feel bloated, my muscles hurts, I’m tired and very sleepy but hey, that doesn’t end there! I still have to unpack then pack again my suitcase for my flight tomorrow. Okay I’ll call it a night! I took shower and ready to sleep, and now guess what!? I’ve been semi-dependent of melatonin sleeping pills for more than 2 years now, Thanks to Jetlag! Iterax, Advil PM, Panadol night even cough syrups named it – I tried it all! Now, Tell me, is that sounds normal to you?
(Every flight usual scenario): visiting a destination I’ve never seen before with lots to do and see. I absorb every minute of the tour take lots of pictures, bought some souvenirs. The next day comes need to wake up early and get ready. It’s time to return to the aircraft!
(pre-vacation Leave usual scenario): bought a 90% discount airfare tickets, day has come, excited to have a holiday! Voila! Flight is FULL Better luck next time! bye bye! (Excerpt from what I wrote 2 years ago: The Truth About Flight Attendant on Travel Benefits.
(During Vacation): Time Flies When You’re having Fun & Adventure! Do I need to say more? I wrote about it last year – same title. Woooh! Pamper galore in my very own Star Bliss Salon & Spa – Time to turn on my Spoiled but not a Brat Mode! Setting aside all of that, anxious already whether there will be a seat available for me! (I twice paid on the spot – full fare business class ticket already! Just to have a seat!)
(Post Vacation) Reminiscing a day in the life of an FA on vacation leave, looking forward for next Manila flight <— That’s one of the things I also considered on my resignation. I stopped bidding other destinations, I only request Manila flights, and whenever they gave me only 1-2 Manila flight it’s still not enough, I still make an effort to swap my nice layover destinations. “There’s no Place Like Home!”
Life has so many turning points. Each turning point involves a choice, a decision to be made . My decision to resign anytime soon is never easy as I still enjoy the perks of travelling and inevitable 6 digits salary! I’m aware that it will cause me to have a major turning point in my life. But I think I’ve had enough, it’s time to welcome a new transition! I agree that the only thing in life that is constant is change! I know that my lifestyle will never be the same, but change will give me more opportunities to grow & develop more!
Once upon a time in 1985. It was around 7 in the morning, the 25th day of January. A young, healthy baby girl was destined to be born. The little angels name is Estrellita, which means “Little Star” in Spanish, thus they’ve given Star as her nickname. Everyone was rejoicing for the birth of the young princess. Now, almost 25 years have passed, all grown up, Int’l Flight Attendant & God-fearing..
…that young girl happens to be me.
When I was a kid I used to dream of a white Christmas and as flight attendant, I guess I’ve experienced it all. Be it, green, blue or white christmas but no matter how far the distance I have travelled. I will still returned to a place called Home…
I flew to Manila on the 24th of December through a Boeing 777 aircraft as expected we landed earlier than scheduled arrival around 2:30pm but due to the traffic because of the Filmfest Parade that afternoon we’ve reach Diamond Hotel in Roxas Blvd. very late, passed 5pm already.
* These pictures are not yet uploaded in my website because it’s not yet high quality pictures (I just grabbed it from my Mom’s friendster account) I left my memory card back home, but will soon upload it…
I really enjoyed every moment, spent the whole time eating delicious home-cooked meals and sinful desserts! Then we gather around the tree to open our presents, Alma was the one hosting the gift giving while we were simply waiting for our names to be called. Our house is filled with laughter. Then later on made myself busy singing over the course of the evening while my cousins are enjoying their wine in the pool area.
The following day, I flew back to Doha with such a nice crew and supervisor. While my family and cousins flew to Hongkong via Philippine Airline to spent my mom’s birthday and New Year there. I guess that’s the main thing my family and I have in common, we all love to travel!
The capacity of the aircraft that we’ve used has 42 seats in Business Class and 293 seats in Economy but we only have less that a hundred passengers in economy + 5 person in Business class. Very light load! Who wants to travel during Christmas day anyway? Except for business travelers maybe like Ms. Pinky Aquino (Kris Aquino’s sister) is one of our passenger that time, she even gave a greeting card to all the crew and were very nice. After 9hrs travel time I’ve landed in Doha around 12:05 am of December 26, slept then same day pick to Manila again!
Even if my whole family is in Hongkong (Dec27) my friends didn’t make me feel alone. They pick me up in the hotel as soon as I arrived then went to Mall of Asia, ate in Don Henricos, had an ice cream dessert in White Hat, watch a movie then Starbucks afterwards. Really had a great time! Indeed a Happy day prelude to a New Year!
We only have 9 days OFF in Doha each month because most of the time we are out of country, all over the world or simply flying but it’s always good to know that at the end of the day, after a tiring flight you’ll go home to a clean and homey atmosphere so we’ve decided to makeover our flat. (Flat is the common term used for Flight Attendant accommodation here in Doha, just like buying a condo unit you have a choice whether Flat or Loft.)
We want to convert our boring spacious living room into a lively area and our common dining area to a special one but that will not happen overnight because we have to clean first, do some laundry, lots of vacuuming, then my favorite part “Shop” for home accessories, Christmas ornaments and a Christmas tree!
A beautiful, symmetrical tree is a perfectsymbol of the Christmas season. But simply by decorating it you’ll create a one-of-a-kind memory of the season…
* This is our ordinary and not so lively living room, we rearrange it and transfer one sofa to another location in the flat near our rooms.
* The Dining Table used to be there, now it’s our welcome/chill area since it’s directing towards the main door and that’s our little Christmas tree. It may not be as big like the ones back home in Manila but what’s more important is to feel the essence of Christmas… It’s the thought that counts! =)
The long day started at around 6:30 am pick up from our accommodation then went straight to the airport. Who would have thought that we would reach the triennial training knowing how homesick we are when we left NAIA 3 years back!?! But anyway, I had a great time to be with my batchmates again and Camille was also there – My closest friend here in Doha.
After a very quick flight, we arrived in Dubai where we were taken by bus to the Emirates Aviation College. The facilities inside were impressive. The ditching and evacuation training area also had a Boeing 777, Airbus A330 and Airbus A380 full size section mock ups to practice all the evacuation procedures.
Then we were given many scenarios and act as if we were really on the real situations like Thick Smoke in the Cabin, Emergency Landing on Water, Fire on the overhead bins, Fire inside the lavatory. (All drills can also be monitored in the LCD Screens.)
Next stage was to jump down the evacuation slides. All of us just evacuated quickly from one door, go down barefoot or with socks. The slides give off a lot of friction to slow you down at the end.
The final part was to crawl onto the large slide raft with our inflated life jackets on and practice assembling the canopy. Once we had done that, we had to drop into the (very cold) water and form into groups of six people so that we can stay together and stay warm. Although it was very cold in the pool, it would be fair to say that the mid-Atlantic would be a lot colder, so it was a valuable lesson to learn that forming a group in water were the most effective ways to keep warm.
We left the training center learning a lot about how to handle ourselves and the passengers in all of the various emergency situations, Fully qualified to be released into the real world of flying again!
Major airlines are required by law to provide flight attendants for the safety and security of the traveling public. Drill scenarios will provide crewmember with the opportunity to merge procedural knowledge with practical skills. Ability to successfully react to different fire situations will enhance level of confidence and to deal with fires in flight.
* While fighting a fire inside the lavatory mock-up. We have extra equipments to wear such as mask, Gloves, Glasses, have to carry a fire extinguisher and be calm as possible. Imagine if this is real situation!?! Probably, I’ll be the first one panicking! hehe!
* Taken during our AB-Initio days when we joined the company 3 years ago. October 2006 (See all the photos here) 5 of my batch mates in this picture left already…
Aside from being the heart of the Catholicism, it is also equally attractive to other tourists since Vatican is home to one of the world’s most spectacular art collections. St. Peter’s Square is the one of the main destination in Vatican City. Situated right in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, it is the central nerve of the Vatican. Every day, hundreds of Christians, Catholic pilgrims and tourists of all stripes came here to visit this popular tourist attraction. I felt holy being here!
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
I can’t believe how fast time flies, Q’ways Magazine is celebrating its first year Anniversary on this month’s issue!
Over the year, it’s fulfilling to be a part of Q’ways Team, I’m proud of the people who have helped us climbed the ladder of success by continuously sharing their skills and articles 13 From 8 Pages to 12! We owe the growth of the magazine to everyone. Thank You.
First of all, free or reduced rate travel is always based on space available. Whether you are the crew or employee’s family traveling at a discount, you will only be issued a seat after all of the revenue passengers, including standby paying passengers. They are always the priority so if there’s no seat available they will ask you to just try your luck on the next flight which has always been a problem for me because all Qatar Airways employee must be back in Doha 10 hours before the next duty time but still I usually try my luck to go to Manila on my 3-4 days off. (What to do in Doha on 4days off!?! I’ll be crazy!)
What this means is that you must be very aware of the available seats on any given flight. This requires some legwork by using the company computerized reservation system to determine which flights are best for you. In my case, it’s always hard to get a seat because Manila Flight is always full or overbooked! Even if it’s not vacation period or holiday! There’s no off peak seasons in Manila flight because there are lots of Filipinos all over the world! And even if there’s a vacant seat, those seats are for senior ones! It’s better to have a full fare ticket as a back up, or else you’ll end up buying a business class full fare ticket!
* The Picture shows there’s no more passenger on cue but me, sitting near the subload check in counter, the other picture is while waiting for the delayed aircraft. There’s no more seat available on the waiting area so the rest are just standing. I’m sitting on my trolley! This inconvenience were just making me decide to resign sooner!
Last April, I flew to manila on my 4days off, August 17-19, I went to MNL again on my 3 days off and same dilemma happens! Fully booked! There’s one jump seat available but there’s one crew who’s more senior than me got the seat.
What makes it worst is that the departure should be 17:30 but the aircraft arrived at 19:40 from Doha! Super delayed! I waited in the check in counter for more than 2 hours sitting there like a beggar and 2 hours again in gate 10. I finished eating 4 BreadTalk’s Cheese Floss and Chef Tony’s popcorn because of boredom! There’s no sign of chance whatsoever but still I stayed there. Just a minute before I call someone to pick me up at the airport, I heard 3 people arguing, they sounded dismay about something. I never knew what is it all about until the ground staff told me that they have been offloaded from MNL Flight! Because they have visa problem. I feel sorry for them but at the same time thankful because their situation gives me a vacant seat! Yehey! Then I arrived in Doha around 12:40 am of August 20 – Just in time for my next duty at 10:50 am (Pick up time).
* After all the inconvenience, this view from the aircraft window simply draw a smile in my face for a minute! I’m glad to see my condo unit nonstop construction and The Venetian Mall as my View from the Top!
I was invited as a guest speaker at NCBA (National College of Business and Arts) for their 3rd-4th year HRM (Hotel & Restaurant Management) student with Tourism subject. The discussion firmly focuses on my travels to different countries, International Tourism, customer related information and life as a flight attendant.
My seminar only last 40-50 minutes but the question and answer portion made my stay longer. At first they were hesitant to ask, Later on they started calling Ma ‘am Star! Ma’am Star! Ma’am Star from each corner of mini theater room even some professors asked few questions too. It turns out to be a conference!
I actually had fun speaking in front of a crowd while sharing my stories and of course with pictures along with my stories because I’m not the type of person who keep telling things what they have but no evidence or proof at all (but words). I’m just laughing in my mind while listening every time I’m hearing stories such as I have this-that, Bought this at and there. haha! But I rather be quiet. I’m used to those kinds of personalities already. Oh come on, words are not even considered hard proof evidence in court hearings. The Judge may just condemn you right away. What I mean is, if you have it SHOW it. End of story. Not just by words. As the saying goes, puro kwento-walang kwenta! Again, I rather be quiet and let you boast your exaggerations and that’ll make me a good listener. Hehe!
After the Seminar, The College Dean personally thank me and told me that I should come back, etc. Then we proceed to HRM room to have lunch because they prepared lunch for us. After that went to Gateway Mall, then had a soothing massage at Blue Water Day Spa in Capitol Hills. The spa has a great ambiance and greenery view of a golf course, it’s like being away from the busy life of Metro Manila but it’s just actually in Quezon City near Celebrity Sports Club. (See Their Website)
I won’t summarize my speech anymore because it’s so long, but here’s my final message to them “Never get afraid of things which are achievable by you. Nothing is Impossible in this world. Many individual who’ve had a dream in their
childhood and succeeded in achieving those dreams has proved it. So I suggest we should aim and dream for a goal and try to succeed them without any laziness & losing control of ourselves. Let’s make every time worthwhile because Time is Gold!”
I want to share this information as a caution for all of you to be more aware of the pandemic.
I never imagine myself to be hospitalized and rushed by the hospital by an ambulance because I rarely get sick. Even If you surround me with people with cough or runny nose I will be the only person who won 19t be affected. Even if I took vitamins without food I won’t be acidic. Even if I ate different cuisines or try out many desserts my stomach won’t be upset nor sleep deprivation won’t stop my body from being well.
But when I got sick, it’s always controversial! The last time I’ve been hospitalized was during the midst of Dengue outbreak when I was in high school because of Dengue Fever. Also had Chicken Pox during summer of 2002, when I was 17 years old and about to enter college! It was horrible! Every time I look in the mirror I was crying because I look like a zombie!
And to date while H1N1 pandemic are still going on. I became a suspect patient and rushed to the hospital after 4 days of experiencing the symptoms.
My previous flights are Manila & New York from where we had a confirmed H1N1 case. I didn’t have any symptom by that time. I even flew to Milan on July 3-4 and I’m fine during the flight although I already have sore throat – Happy 4th of July! The following day, I had cough, body ache and slight fever but I thought I was just tired so I didn ‘t bother to go to the clinic, just stayed home and didn’t inform anyone.
Welfare office were calling me on July 6. To ask my condition because one of the crew I’ve flew with was already in the hospital and 2 crew from my accommodation are already in the hospital. I wasn’t able to answer the phone it was on silent mode because I’m sleeping.
July 7 – Though I’m not feeling well I still attended Q’ways Magazine Meeting. The meetings starts at 8am till 2pm, since I’m already within the vicinity, I headed to QRMC (Qatar Airways Medical Center). After speaking to the doctor she then recommends that I should stayed in Hamad Medical Hotel for some tests. The place was nice. It’s like real hotel. It’s used to be Athletes Village where the athletes stayed during Asian games in Doha. We were provided unlimited sandwich and bread, Tea/Coffee in the lounge and 4 Meals a day. Only had one complain – NO INTERNET CONNECTION!!!
* To everyone esp. those crew I’ve flown with and people I’ve encountered double your vitamin intake and if you suspect any flu symptoms go to hospital immediately. We are exposed to different nationalities from all over the world. We might as well take extra measures to prevent any sickness. Health is Wealth and Internet connection is an asset!
* Especial thanks to Jero for cheering me up by calling at least 8 times a day. Ate Camille for cooking for me and for being “on call-24/7” and Gandings courtesy of Rachel for coming over just to bring something much much much appreciated! And Rumana for dropping me off to my accommodation such a big help… Sometimes you’ll find a helping hand to people whom you least expected…
The Captain was 58, French. He/She entered Air France in 1988 and was qualified on the Airbus A330/A340 in February 2007. The Captain had 11,000 flying hours, which included 1,700 hours on the Airbus A330/340.
The 2 co-pilots were French. They were 37 and 32 years old. They started working for Air France in 1999 and 2004. They were qualified on the Airbus A330/340 in April 2002 and June 2008. The first co-pilot had 6,600 flying hours which included 2,600 hours on the Airbus A330/340. The second co-pilot had a total of 3,000 flying hours which included 800 hours on the Airbus A330/340.
The Chief Flight Attendant was French, 49, and entered Air France in 1985. The two other pursers were French, 54 and 46 years old and entered Air France in 1981 and 1989.
There were 6 stewards and stewardesses on board. 5 of them where French and 1 was Brazilian. They were between the ages of 24 and 44 years old and they started working for Air France between 1996 and 2007.
Air France identified the nationalities of the victims of flight 447:
DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A FLIGHT ATTENDANT’S BOYFRIEND?
by: ARLENE LEGASPI
You think you have what it takes to be a flight attendant’s boyfriend? Here are FEW things you have to put through. And that’s why they say these jet setters are the Top 3 Most Spoiled Girlfriends in the World. If you’re in a relationship with one: man, we give it up to you…. And If you’re planning to have one:
Be prepared, Be very very… prepared.
1. Do Not expect her to drive the car. She’s most not likely to have a driving license, she’d say “Babe, I only have a passport.”
2. Familiarize yourself with SKYPE, YM’s. VoIPs. She worships those amazing discoveries.
3. DO treat her like a princess before she can treat you like her king. Get ready for statements like “Buy me food, or else Ill break up with you!”
4. DO NOT be surprised if she wants you to take several shots of vaccines: Hepa B, Hepa A, Meningitis, Yellow Fever etc. etc.
5. Stay away when her roster comes out. That’s the next worse time to PMS.
6. BE grateful of her smile. You get it for free. IN the skies, it’s worth 6 digits.
7. BE READY to see yourself 5 to 10 years from now. She wants a man who knows his direction.
8. DO give importance to time, preferably Military time. 21:16 is NEVER the same as 21:17
9. DO NOT wake her up when she’s sleeping, even if you wonder “ she must be hungry after sleeping 18 hours already!” Again, LET her wake up by herself.
10. DO NOT mess with how she arranges her suitcase. Boots are for Boots sack, shampoos are for toilettries, undies are for undies bag and so on.
11. DO NOT expect her to remember names of your friends in one sitting.
12. DO NOT accuse her of bragging when she says she went to Paris for Coffee or just hit the gym in Berlin. She’s just plainly, innocently telling you a story.
13. Do not get intimidated by the beautiful men around him, chances are she’s already used to/sick of seeing hotness in form. Those men have lost their beauty.
14. DO NOT call her on the phone when she’s on Standby. DO NOT… ever.
15. Do NOT question why Half of the dresses in her closet has never been worn, and she still complains, she doesn’t have anymore.
16. Do Not remove any clothes you think is too much in his suitcase, remember: she has four sets of outfit in her suitcase: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Fall.
17. She expects you to learn how to read an Aviator watch.
18. And when she gives you that expensive Aviator watch, Do not Ask her: “ what time is it there in Khartoum?”
19. The next best gift to a Limited Louis Vuitton bag is a fancy Dual Time Watch.
20. She carries a First Aid Kit with her and 26 kinds of Supplements: Vit C,E,A,B, anti-Oxidants, Gingko Biloba, Evening Primrose Oil, Horseradish Capsules, etc. etc. even those Pills (damn-those!) you request her to take everyday!
21. At least buy McDonalds before your holiday flight, she prefers it over aircraft food, and yes even over the caviars in first class cabin.
22. Understand that discovering a designer dress on the clearance rack can be considered a peak life experience.
23. Make sure of the inaccuracy of your bathroom scale.
24. Remind her which country she is in first thing when she wakes up in the morning
25. During dinner, when she asks you whether you like chicken or beef… Oboohooy! you better think fast!
26. Begin to be scared when you oversee a long line in Immigration, she has zero tolerance on airport queues.
27. Work your muscle for a trip together, you’ll be carrying at least four baggages for her. A Gucci make-up bag, a Paul Smith, a World Traveller Trolley, and a Burberry Laptop bag at least for a Domestic Flight.
28. A bouquet of flowers is THE if not, THE ONLY way to say “I missed you” when you pick her up at the airport.
29. Prepare yourself for her jetlag, otherwise known as the PFS or the POST Flight Syndrome. You should be awake when she is and asleep when she is . You don’t want to see a whole 72 hours of tantrums.
30. And lastly, it might seem like she thinks she is overqualified for love. But DO remember that in reality, she feels like she is just an ordinary girl standing in front of a boy, asking him…
For a foot rub… after a damn…long flight. ☺
The crew of a Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300, registration A7-BAA performing flight QR52 from Washington,DC (USA) to Doha (Qatar) last Sept 06 2008, declared emergency due to an engine failure about 175nm west of Gander while enroute at FL370 and requested a descent to FL200. After the descent to FL200 the flight deck crew dumped fuel and diverted to Gander,NL (Canada). The airplane landed safely at Gander about 50 minutes after the engine failure.
The crew had attempted a relight of the engine, during which the EGT limits were exceeded. Subsequent inspection after landing revealed tiny particles in the tailpipe and debris on chip detectors. The engine (GE90-115B) was removed and sent to the manufacturer for further analysis.
A replacement aircraft, an Airbus A330-200, registration A7-ACA was dispatched to Gander as flight QR3052 to pick the passengers up and bring them to London Heathrow.
“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have ”
* Wag magtaka kung may muscles ako sa arms ah.. sa bigat ba naman ng mga overhead bins with whole weight of passengers bags in it…hehe!
*B777 mid Galley – flight to Washington with my lil’ sis-Kristine, Ivy & kissey
* Aibus 340 Lounge bound to Hongkong
* Airbus 330 – Aft Galley during my leave last May 2008
*Airbus 330 Emergency row
*B777 Aft Cabin
* My Office in the Sky..
* My August Flying buddy! Ji hyun.
* My 5th dubai for the month of August..
* My 6th Washington,USA for the month of August…
* Definitely better than being inside the office…
The mid-afternoon crash, which occurred as the Spanish airplane left the busy Madrid Barajas International Airport, killed 153 people, officials said.
“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” ambulance driver Luis Ferreras told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Spanair spokesman Sergio Allard said 172 people were on Flight JK 5022, which was bound for the Canary Islands, off the coast of northwestern Africa. The numbers were frequently updated throughout the day — at one point it was thought 26 people survived and 175 people were on board.
Bodies too hot to touch
Lines of ambulances raced to the airport soon after the crash as a large plume of smoke rose from the accident site.
Emergency services personnel scrambled to pull passengers from the burning plane, while helicopters poured water to douse the flames. A makeshift morgue was set up at the city’s main convention centre, officials said.
“Only the tail was recognizable,” rescue worker Herbigio Corral said of the airplane, according to Reuters. “There was wreckage scattered all over the place and dead bodies across a wide area. A lot of them were children.”
A police officer said the bodies were so hot that police could barely touch them and told El Pais that the shattered wreckage bore no resemblance to an airplane.
Spanish Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez confirmed the number of survivors was only 19.
A Spanish Red Cross official told BBC that they are providing psychological support to family and friends at the Madrid and Canary Islands airports, where many had gathered to greet or send off their loved ones. Passengers from Germany could also be aboard the flight since it shares a Lufthansa flight code, LH 2554.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero interrupted his holidays in southern Spain to handle the crisis in Madrid, while the Spanish Olympic Committee said the Spanish flag would fly at half mast in the Olympic village in Beijing, Reuters reported. Spain’s national soccer team wore black armbands at a friendly match with Denmark.
The development minister said the aircraft’s flight data recorders have been recovered.
The plane’s first takeoff attempt was delayed after the pilot reported a breakdown in a gauge that measures temperature outside the plane, Spanair spokeswoman Susana Vergara said.
Vergara said the gauge was fixed. The plane crashed on the second takeoff attempt.
El Pais reported that an engine on the plane’s left-hand side caught fire as it was taking off.
“We don’t know the reason for the fire, but that seems to have caused the accident,” El Pais editor Guy Hedgecoe told CBC News.
Hedgecoe said that shortly after the fire began, the plane then descended onto the airstrip, crashed and caught fire at the end of the runway. The plane ended up in a wooded area at the recently built Terminal 4, located on the edge of the airport grounds.
The plane, bound for the popular holiday destination of Las Palmas, was a McDonnell Douglas 82, or MD-82. Boeing, which bought out McDonnell Douglas in 1997, said it is prepared to send as least one representative to Madrid to help with the investigation, should Spanish authorities require assistance.
Spanair said the jet, which was 15 years old, last passed an inspection in January, and no problems had been reported since then.
Wednesday’s plane crash was the deadliest in Spain in more than 20 years. In February 1985, an Iberia Boeing 727 crashed near Bilbao in the Basque region, killing 148 people.
The worst plane crash in aviation history occurred in the Canary Islands, when two fully loaded Boeing 747s crashed into each other in 1977, killing 583 people.