The seats shook so much that the 359 passengers of the Airbus A330 felt like they were "sitting on top of a washing machine," as one unnamed passenger put it. The first minutes of the shaking were reportedly the worst, according to several passengers, who believed that the plane was going to go down.
"I was crying a lot," Sophie Nicolas told Australia's ABC. "A lot of people were crying, trying to call their moms and stuff. But we couldn't really do anything. Just wait and trust the captain."
"It was just like a small explosion almost from the left wing, and the plane just started shuddering," she added.
The captain, however, informed the passengers that they should pray for a safe landing. "Please listen to everything," an airline staffer told the frightened passengers over the intercom. "Our survival depends on your cooperating. Hopefully everything will turn out for the best."
However, when it became clear that the plane was not coming apart at the seams, the passengers calmed down significantly. "Not great, not amazing," one said in a video taken by a passenger. "We're having 50 million beers when we get back."
The plane turned back around and returned to Perth. As it limped back to the airport, passenger Brenton Atkinson reported that he could see the engine in the wing rattling back and forth. Passengers held the brace position during landing in case of catastrophe, but the plane held together and arrived safely.
No injuries were reported by Air-Asia, which issued a statement: "Passengers were attended to by our ground staff upon landing and were provided with all necessary assistance. Our engineers are taking precautionary steps to check the aircraft. Guests on board the flight (were) transferred to the next available flight or the recovery flight D7689, which safely departed Perth at 23:40 hours on the same day.
"The safety of our guests is our utmost priority."