Passengers in AirAsia mid-air drama were 'saying goodbye to each other'

Our Foreign Staff
Video shows passengers on the Bali-bound AirAsia flight wearing oxygen masks - Screengrab of 9 News

Passengers on board an AirAsia flight have described the terrifying moment when the plane lost cabin pressure and plunged 20,000 feet shortly after take off. 

Flight QZ535 was just 25 minutes into its journey from Perth to Bali when it was forced to turn back because of a technical issue on Sunday morning.

Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling as a precaution and the 145 passengers were told to adopt the "brace" position as the plane dropped altitude. 

"I actually picked up my phone and sent a text message to my family, just hoping that they would get it," Leah, a passenger from Perth, told Nine News.

"We were all pretty much saying goodbye to each other. It was really upsetting."

Video posted on social media shows a member of the crew saying: "Passengers get down, get down!"

A Bali-bound flight has been forced back to Perth after losing cabin pressure. pic.twitter.com/E6ENGBr1og

— 7 News Perth (@7NewsPerth) October 15, 2017

“One of the stewardesses started running down the aisle and we thought, why is she running,” Leah said.

“And then the masks fell down and everybody started panicking.

“Nobody told us what was going on.”

Clare Askew, who was also on board, told Seven News people were terrified.

"The panic was escalated, because of the behaviour of staff, who were screaming and looked tearful," Ms Askew said.

Tracy, from Perth, was on the flight with her young son, Jayden.

“My son said he didn’t want to get on another flight but I’ve assured him it can’t happen twice in a row,” she told Nine News.

“It’s really put me off flying, I fly every year on Air Asia.”

AirAsia said its engineers at Perth Airport were assessing the aircraft.

"The safety of our guests is our utmost priority," it said in a statement. "AirAsia Indonesia apologises for any inconvenience caused."

The drama was latest in a number of incidents to befall AirAsia flights in recent months.

Four months ago an AirAsia flight from Perth bound for Kuala Lumpur was forced to turn back after an engine reportedly failed and an explosion was heard mid-flight.

Less than two weeks after that, an AirAsia X flight had to divert to Brisbane after a suspected bird strike.