'I was sobbing': Passenger's terror after plane 'runs out of fuel' mid-flight

·News Reporter
·4-min read

A plane passenger flying from New York to Ghana last week has detailed the terrifying moment the plane he was on started 'leaking fuel' mid-air, admitting the ordeal left him "sobbing" and "fearing for my life".

Arieh Smith, a popular YouTuber, was flying with Delta Airlines to the West African country when it suddenly made a u-turn over the Atlantic Ocean and headed back to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport where it had left just two hours earlier.

"If things had gone a little differently, I might not be here right now," he revealed in a YouTube video titled, 'My plane ran out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean'.

Passenger Arieh Smith crying in plane toilet and text messages to wife
Mr Smith messaged his wife to tell her that he loved her after fearing the worst was to come. Source: Youtube/Xiaomanyc

Captain announces 'fuel issue'

Mr Smith said he grew alarmed when the pilot began walking down the aisle. He began leaning over passengers to look out the windows, Mr Smith revealed.

"I remember thinking 'this doesn't look good'," the YouTuber admitted, adding "it's a scary sight to see".

About an hour later an announcement from the caption heightened Mr Smith's fears as he supposedly revealed a "fuel issue"

"Very sorry but we have a fuel issue we're going to need to return to New York," he said the captain announced, and a flight attendant confirmed it was a "fuel leak".

At that moment, the passenger feared the worst and began texting his wife. He filmed himself in the plane toilet crying and saying his last goodbyes in case he didn't survive.

Speaking to Insider, Mr Smith said "I don't think [the crew] understood how freaked out some of us were," before adding he was "honestly terrified".

Flight path for Delta airlines u-turn to New York
The Delta airlines plane had a fuel emergency two hours into teh flight and had to turn back to New York. Source: Youtube/Xiaomanyc

'Relief' as plane lands safely

Before long, the plane landed safely on the tarmac but not without a fair amount of turbulence caused by bad weather.

"I remember just the feeling of relief," he revealed.

"After we landed, and finally reached the gate, there were fire trucks and ambulances surrounding the plane which gives you an idea of the potential severity of the situation."

Passengers also started receiving emails from Delta Airlines offering them complimentary meals, he said. He was later refunded money for the flight.

Mr Smith spoke with the captain who was flying the plane and he revealed a "fuel imbalance" was to blame.

The video shows the passengers standing in the cockpit with the pilot who explained there was a huge disparity between the left and right fuel tank.

Arieh Smith smiling in front of colourful street
Mr Smith said he was relieved when he finally landed safely. Source: Instagram/Xiaomanyc

"It's a good thing he caught it as quick as he did," Mr Smith said, explaining that one of the engines could "flame out" which would cause a "very bad" situation.

"But he caught it early enough to save all our lives basically," he said. "We could have all just died."

A Delta spokesperson confirmed to Insider that the plane was forced to make a U-turn "out of an abundance of caution due to operational reasons".

They also confirmed all passengers got off the flight unharmed and that customers' safety and security is the airline's first priority.

YouTube viewers react to video

The video gathered more than 930,000 views in just a few days, and while many offered words of support to Mr Smith, others called his video an "overreaction" and "dramatic".

"I appreciate the emotions are very real to you, but this video is alarmist and unhelpful," one man wrote.

"You did not run out of fuel. There was a fuel imbalance. There was no risk of a flame out because the pilots chose to turn back. The pilot did not "save all your lives". The pilot chose not to put lives at risk by continuing. It was not a "near death experience". There was no danger."

"As a pilot I have a different understanding of the engineering of the aircraft and can tell you that you were most likely never close to an end of life event," another man wrote.

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