Crew Panic As AirAsia Indonesia Flight Plunges 22000 Feet

Passengers aboard an AirAsia flight from Perth to Bali Sunday have criticized the flight crew for allegedly screaming when the plane suddenly dropped 20,000 feet. "The panic was escalated because of the behavior of the staff, who were screaming and looked tearful and shocked," passenger Clare Askew told CNN affiliate Seven News Australia after the plane landed safely back in Perth.

Flight QZ535, bound for the Indonesian island of Bali, changed course about 25 minutes after take-off on Sunday. The Airbus A320, carrying 151 people, landed safely at Perth Airport. AirAsia said the flight experienced a "technical issue". Australian media said it had appeared to lose altitude.

But after landing safely back at Perth International Airport passengers slammed the handling of the chaotic situation by the AirAsia crew, claiming the only instructions they received in English were to 'brace' and put their seatbelts on.

"We were all pretty much saying goodbye to each other. It was really upsetting," one passenger told the local Nine network.

A video taken on the plane, broadcast by local media, shows oxygen masks hanging from the ceiling and one person shouting "passengers get down, passengers get down". Another passenger, Claire Askew, told the Seven network that "panic was escalated" by airline staff who were screaming and appeared to be in tears.

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

The aircraft was being examined Sunday to find the cause of the problem. AirAsia did not comment on the allegations leveled against the cabin crew.

It's not the first incident for AirAsia. In July, an AirAsia flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Brisbane after a birdstrike. Just a week earlier, another AirAsia plane was made an emergency landing at Perth Airport after an engine malfunctioned 90 minutes into the flight to Kuala Lumpur.