Ex-British Airways flight attendant sues for £750,000 after trauma of engine fire

Tristan Kirk
Lucy Sargeant leaving court

A British Airways flight attendant who developed a fear of flying after being caught up in a mid-air emergency is suing for £750,000 over the loss of her “wonderful” career.

Lucy Sargeant, 29, was on board the May 2013 flight from Heathrow to Oslo when fires broke out in the plane’s engines, forcing the pilot to return for an emergency landing.

Central London county court heard there was “complete panic” on board and that the crew and 75 passengers had to use emergency chutes to get out of the Airbus A319.

Ms Sargeant, who lives in Uxbridge, said she has “never been back to myself” and reluctantly ended her career last year. “I was struggling all the time since I went back to flying. I just didn’t feel safe where I was working,” she told the court.

She is now suing British Airways Plc for damages.

The British Airways flight in 2013 (Baba Siroffodeen/Sky News)

Her barrister Nicholas Yell said: “She genuinely thought she was going to die. There was complete panic on the plane.” The court heard the engines developed faults during takeoff, leading to a fuel leak and a fire. BA has admitted liability for Ms Sargeant’s psychiatric injuries but is fighting the amount of compensation she is due.

“Ms Sargeant initially perceived this as the most wonderful job,” said Mr Yell. “Before the events in question she enjoyed the job thoroughly. It was intended to be a lifelong career.”

The court heard Ms Sergeant has suffered from disturbed sleep, extreme anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares and fear of flying since the incident. She returned to work but was caught up in a second mid-air drama last year, when toxic fumes began filling the cabin, it was said.

The ex-flight attendant said she would normally have taken this “in my stride”, as passengers and crew put on oxygen masks, but struggled because of the previous incident.

She took voluntary redundancy last November. The hearing, in front of Judge Robert Glancy QC, continues.