An Air New Zealand "flight from hell" sent screaming passengers and crew flying from their seats, with people and food hitting the roof, after the plane hit severe turbulence during a flight from Vietnam to Auckland.

Those on board the flight touched down in Auckland Airport tonight, after a delay getting home from Ho Chi Minh City.

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Kelly Kilgour said flight NZ268 encountered turbulence about 40 minutes into the flight, and landed safely back in Vietnam about 8.20am on Sunday (NZT).

Three cabin crew members and one passenger suffered minor injuries as a result and have been assessed and treated by medical staff.


A man contacted the Herald to say his friend was on the flight, and saw a woman who was sleeping without a seatbelt on lifted out of her chair and thrown two rows forward.

Vince Newbold, of Browns Bay, described dramatic scenes the moment the aircraft got into trouble.

"We took off, everything went well. We were in the air, it was a very smooth flight... and then all of a sudden, we had a couple of bumps. It was kind of like: 'Wow, where did that come from'?"

The plane suddenly shot upwards, he said, before things took another turn.

"Five seconds later, it was like hitting a speed bump. The plane just leapt up in the air and you sat very heavily in your seat - and then it just free-fell.

"You could see people coming out of their seats, you could see food hitting the roof, you could hear people were screaming."

Newbold said the plane dropped 100 feet.

"I've been in some pretty tight situations - I wondered whether that plane wasn't going to break into two. It was like: 'Wow, is that what it's like when a bomb goes off'?

Vince Newbold from Browns Bay talks to the NZ Herald after arriving to Auckland from Vietnam where the Air NZ flight he was on hit bad turbulence. Photo / Dean Purcell
Vince Newbold from Browns Bay talks to the NZ Herald after arriving to Auckland from Vietnam where the Air NZ flight he was on hit bad turbulence. Photo / Dean Purcell

"My heart was pumping...and then the hostess called: 'Is there a doctor on board'?"

Newbold - who has had first aid training - offered to help.

However, the staffer politely declined, stressing that what they required was a doctor.

"At that point, I knew it was something major."

Newbold said he and several other passengers got up to help crew members clear some of the mess.

Some passengers had to move from their seats as space was made for injured crew.

They were later told some staff had hit the ceiling; suffering head and neck injuries.

Newbold said he was told a male staffer had suffered a nasty cut to his head.

"There was a female that I'd seeing lying down on a seat," he said.

"My understanding was neck injury, head injury. She was very quiet."

Another passenger said crew were thrown to the ceiling.

She posted on Facebook that the plane was first delayed by two hours because of an issue with the brakes.

Then the "flight from hell" took off with everything going well until the plane struck turbulence an hour into the flight.

"As the air hostess hands me my tray we hit some really bad turbulence, the plane drops and all my food flies all over the floor and me.

"Everyone is screaming and we have no idea what is going on.

"A few minutes pass and the crew calling for a doctor over the loud speaker, two crew members had suffered critical injuries, the turbulence had thrown them up to the ceiling, another was injured."