Smoked Filled American Flight and Passengers Evacuated By Slide at Heathrow Today

American Airlines flight AA731 from London Heathrow to Charlotte was cancelled today as a result of mechanical problems that led to passengers being evacuated via slide onto the tarmac.

Apparently after a mechanical delay smoke began to enter the cabin.

Here’s smoke out the back:

And passengers evacuated down a slide via @rossriscock:

This happened around 12:30pm local time and only a handful of passengers were evacuated by slide with the rest leaving the plane through the front jetway.

According to American,

“Flight 731 experienced smoke in the cabin while on the ground at Heathrow.

“Three slides were deployed on the aircraft and approximately 25 passengers deplaned via the slides. The rest of the passengers and crew safely deplaned via the jet bridge.

No significant injuries are reported at this time.

I’ve only ever personally seen simulations of a slide evacuation, for instance Pizzaman watches as Mommy Points goes down the slide nad into a pool in Dallas.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Weird situation. I’ve never heard of slides being deployed when the jet bridge was attached. There are some media reports that the slides “automatically” deployed when the smoke triggered the smoke detectors. Is that actually possible? There are conflicting reports, but apparently only a dozen pax used the slides. It would be interesting to get a more complete picture of what actually happened here. So far, I’ve seen nothing indicating there was panic, but it’s hard to understand why you’d use a slide if you could walk off the plane.

  2. They would have either deployed when the doors were opened (if they were armed) or would have to have been manually deployed (likely by a FA) if they were unarmed. Smoke in the cabin IS an emergency, even if it’s on the ground. Several accidents have had passenger and crew lives lost on the ground due to smoke, even after landing safely. So I really can’t blame them (either the FAs or passengers) for wanting to get off ASAP in that case, even if there were a jetway at the front door.

  3. Wow! I have taken this flight several times, last time just 3 days ago. The aircraft is an old US Airways plane with no wifi or premium economy like their LHR-MIA flight.

  4. Of course there needed to be an emergency evacuation: smoke and toxic fumes can kill quite quickly, eg the Saudia Tristar that had an inflight fire. It landed safely but an emergency evacuation was not initiated and 300 people died as a consequence. The plane did not burn.

  5. @Paulo — I wouldn’t be so sure. Not all “smoke” the same. As this Charlotte newspaper story suggests, there’s still a lot of uncertainly as to exactly what went on in the cabin. Most troubling to me is the confusion between the cockpit (which didn’t think it was an evacuation situation) and the flight attendants (who apparently started evacuating).

  6. @ iahphx “There are some media reports that the slides “automatically” deployed when the smoke triggered the smoke detectors. Is that actually possible?”


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