Want to Know What It’s Like to Fly on a Hijacked Plane? Reddit’s Got Answers.

In an ask-me-anything post published Tuesday, one of the hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight’s passengers details his experience.

Police evacuate passengers on February 17, 2014 from the Ethiopian Airlines flight en route to Rome, which was hijacked and forced to land in Geneva, where the hijacker has been arrested, police said.
National Journal
Matt Berman
Add to Briefcase
Matt Berman
Feb. 18, 2014, 8:40 a.m.

Red­dit is rap­idly chan­ging the way people ex­per­i­ence news, and today brings an in­cred­ible ex­ample of how that’s hap­pen­ing.

On Monday, the co­pi­lot of an Ethiopi­an Air­lines flight from Ethiopia to Rome hi­jacked the plane and flew it to Geneva, where he sought asylum after the air­craft landed safely. None of the 202 pas­sen­gers was in­jured, and the hi­jack­er was ap­pre­hen­ded by po­lice.

If you want to know what it was like to be on that flight, you don’t need to rely on a 15-second sound bite from an in­ter­view with a pas­sen­ger. In­stead, care of Red­dit, you can now ask one of the pas­sen­gers on that flight any ques­tion you’d like.

Of­fer­ing a photo of his lug­gage tag as proof, a Red­dit­or pos­ted an Ask Me Any­thing on Tues­day morn­ing say­ing that he was a pas­sen­ger on the flight, and “it was hell.”

The post has drawn nearly 3,000 com­ments in just three hours. Here are some of the most in­ter­est­ing re­sponses:

  • What was it like in the flight?
    “We were mov­ing freely,” the pas­sen­ger writes. “The stew­ard­ess were giv­ing out wa­ter and say­ing safe words. However, you could see some of them were cry­ing.”
  • Did any­one con­sider try­ing to take out the hi­jack­er?
    “I don’t know. I thought about it a lot but I was pet­ri­fied.”
  • What goes through your head?
    “I think it’s like you are dy­ing in a hos­pit­al bed. You’re scared, you know that it’s over soon and you ask your­self a lot of ques­tions: do you have re­grets, who will come to your fu­ner­al, is this real.. There noth­ing you can do, so you even­tu­ally ac­cept it to 90%.”
  • What were the oth­er pas­sen­gers on the flight do­ing?
    “They were talk­ing amongst them­selves but I don’t know was it was about. I didn’t see any­body break­ing down com­pletely, just pray­ing or singing.”

The ques­tions are still com­ing, be­cause of course they are. Red­dit has es­tab­lished a for­um for curi­os­ity, wheth­er it’s about a ma­jor news event or unique gen­italia. This po­ten­tial for en­gage­ment doesn’t really ex­ist any­where else, and it’s chan­ging ex­pect­a­tions about what read­ers can learn from news.

That’s not to say that tra­di­tion­al me­dia should be on no­tice. Giv­ing any­one with a Red­dit ac­count ac­cess to a seem­ingly in­fin­ite num­ber of sources doesn’t make a news­pa­per story about those same sources ob­sol­ete, es­pe­cially when so many of the sources are un­re­li­able. Red­dit is a rad­ic­ally im­per­fect me­di­um, but its massive growth has helped make an in­cred­ible num­ber of pre­vi­ously im­possible ques­tions an­swer­able.

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