It’s not Halloween yet, but American Airlines passengers have reported ghoulish moans and ghostly breaths over intercom systems on several flights over the past few months.
Film producer Emerson Collins captured the eerie cacophony on his Sept. 6 flight from Los Angeles to Dallas. The video has racked up millions of views on Twitter and TikTok.
Weirdest flight ever.
These sounds started over the intercom before takeoff and continued throughout the flight.
They couldn’t stop it, and after landing they still had no idea what it was. pic.twitter.com/F8lJlZHJ63
— Emerson Collins (@ActuallyEmerson)
September 23, 2022
The human noises started before takeoff and lingered in the air, especially early in the flight and during duty, Collins told The Washington Post. In the video, sounds range from moans and grunts to whoops.
“I swear it’s a prank,” a flight attendant can be heard telling Collins in the video.
At one point, a flight attendant goes through the intercom to apologize for the “extremely irritating sound” and says the pilots are working to alleviate the problem. As soon as she finishes speaking, the sounds reappear, sounding like a “ho!” and a guttural moan.
Collins said he walked down the aisle looking for the source of the noises, expecting it to be evident in the confined space of an airplane cabin.
“I’m Nancy Drewing in my own way, looking for the person who looks completely amused by herself,” he said. “And, of course, I didn’t see anything.”
The Airbus A321 landed safely in Dallas. Collins said he found the incident amusing and the flight crew reassured passengers there were no safety concerns.
“It was just a very modern form of immersive in-flight entertainment,” he said.
After Collins released the video last week, the mystery deepened as passengers on other US flights in recent months reported the same range of noises.
“It wasn’t the whole flight, but weird phrases and sounds periodically. Then a huge ‘oh yeah’ when we landed. We thought the pilot left his mic on,” reporter Doug Boehner tweeted at about his recent Orlando-Dallas flight.
Technical director Brad Allen wrote that he and his wife experienced the sounds of an American flight in July.
“To be clear, it was just sounds like moans and moans of someone in extreme pain,” Allen wrote. “The crew said it had happened before and had no explanation.”
Another user said the noises happened on his August 5 flight from New York to Los Angeles, and aviation commentator @xJonNYC shared an account from a flight from Santa Ana to Dallas on September 18 .
The incidents have sparked amateur sleuthing online, with theories ranging from a prank like a passenger dragging the crew microphone down the toilet to the more nefarious suggestion of in-flight systems being hacked.
American Airlines spokeswoman Sarah Jantz said in a statement that the airline’s aircraft intercom systems are hard-wired without any external access or WiFi components.
“After the initial report, our maintenance team thoroughly inspected the aircraft and the PA system and determined that the sounds were caused by a mechanical issue with the PA amplifier, which increases the volume of the PA system when the engines are running,” she said. The first report received by the airline was for the September 18 Santa Ana-Dallas flight, according to Jantz.
“Our team is reviewing the additional reports,” she added.
Collins said that if the sounds were the result of a technical glitch, then “the ghost in the machine has a hilarious sense of humor”.
“The comedic timing of the sounds seemed entirely too planned out to be just a technical glitch,” he said. “But honestly, I have no idea.”
The Washington Post
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