Graham Vaughan-Jones said flight JQ263 from Auckland had a “very rough” descent into Wellington Airport on Tuesday evening, causing the plane to turn around and try again after an unsuccessful landing attempt.
The frequent flier from Wellington said there were “quite a few distressed passengers” on board, some of whom vomited.
“I had a young woman alongside me who was very distressed. Said she was going to faint,” Mr Vaughan-Jones said.
“So I tried to talk her through it, saying, ‘Hey it’s not a huge deal – this sometimes happens.’ And I was sure that the pilots were on top of it.”
The aircraft landed successfully on its second attempt, prompting “sustained clapping from everybody on the aircraft until we got off the runway”, he said.
A Jetstar spokesperson said the captain conducted a “go-around” on the aircraft’s initial approach to the airport because of “a large gust of wind”.
“The flight subsequently landed normally at Wellington Airport, 10 minutes after its planned schedule,” the spokesperson said.
“Our pilots are comprehensively trained to operate in these types of weather conditions, and performing go-arounds is a normal procedure that pilots may elect to use during any approach.”
A “go-around” is performed if a pilot is not convinced that all the requirements for a safe landing have been met. Typically, it involves a pilot pulling out of an approach, climbing higher and circling the airport before lining up for another landing attempt.
While it can be alarming for passengers, it is a relatively common procedure designed to keep passengers safe.
Mr Vaughan-Jones said he found the experience “pretty entertaining”.
He thought the pilots and cabin crew handled the incident well, saying he was “very impressed with the flight skills on display”.
“I’m a very experienced Wellington traveller, going back 40 or 50 years, and [situations like this] do create a challenge for flight crew,” he said.
“I thought they handled it really, really well. I said to the in-flight staff who were standing there [on disembarking], ’10 out of 10.’ And they said, ‘Well, you better convey that to the people up front.'”
Mr Vaughan-Jones said his four-year-old granddaughter, who is visiting New Zealand from Adelaide, was also unperturbed.
“A delightful part of the overall experience was that our gorgeous granddaughter, who loved the whole flight, was then complimented by a number of passengers for providing a welcome distraction by continuing to sing, very tunefully and displaying no concern, ‘Farmer in the Dell’,” he said.