During the Summer of 2007 my wife and I were returning from a European vacation that spanned Switzerland, Czech Republic and Budapest Hungary. Most of our flights were with Lufthansa, selected by myself for their excellent safety and service records.
Our last leg home was from Frankfurt, Germany to Newark, New Jersey. We boarded a new, comfortable, widebody A330-300. The weather was bad, and the pilot seemed to be in a rush to get going: Germans and their time tables. We were alerted that the IFE was out of service for the flight across the Atlantic. Of course my crazy mind immediately thought of Swiss Air 111. No one else seemed to care, except that they wouldn’t be able to watch their favorite movies.
Our takeoff was breathtaking, as we parted the clouds we could see we were just above the tips of the mountains located by the airport. It was a site to see. Once we were at cruise, all was smooth and seemed normal.
I excused myself and went to the bathroom. While in the very clean, modern lavatory, I caught a whiff of smoke. I tried to inhale and see if could place the smell, but I couldn’t. It was very faint.
Later in the flight I caught another whiff at my seat….which was close to the bulkhead, bathrooms and broken IFE panel. But again, it was fleeting.
I was contemplating to myself that if I smelt anymore smoke I would alert the Cabin Crew. I became a bit nervous. Fire in a plane is the most serious dilemma. For much the rest of the flight the air was clear…..my anxiety lessened and I was telling myself I was imagining things.
About an hour or so out of Newark the smell hit me again, and this time it was more noticeable. My instincts started getting the best of me. At that point the Cabin crew came through our area, asking if anyone had been smoking in the lavatories. I pulled aside the Chief Purser, a very serious and professional German women, and let her know that I had smelled smoke earlier in the flight. She asked me if I had been smoking? No I replied. She then announced to a few of us that smoking on an airplane was extremely dangerous and could take down a aircraft….no shit….The crew was now going through the lavatories with flashlights and checking the smoke detectors.
I felt involved now, and was ready to jump into action. Help out, save the plane and all its unsuspecting passengers.
But that was it….we landed normally half an hour later.
I wasnt sure if I was nuts or not? Were we in danger, did this really happen? Or was I “imagining things?”
I called Lufthansa the next day to report what happened…after much avoidance I was let known that the aircraft in question did have an electrical issue and was grounded…I then was given a discount on my next flight with Lufthansa…..So after all, I wasn’t crazy. I now know that if something is amiss, let the crew know, and also to trust my nose…