British Airways flight catches fire in Las Vegas, and on social media

British Airways fight 2276 was engulfed in flames just as it was about to take off from Las Vegas to London Gatwick. The incident was captured vividly by passengers in the terminal, those on-board the flight and journalists. As with every airline incident, we learn new realities faced by airlines in the age of the connected traveler.  The good news in this case was that the incident was very professionally handled by the airline and the airport, and all passengers were safe.

Here were some key highlights of how the incident played out on social media:

  1. Live images and video of the fire posted up on Twitter and YouTube even before the emergency slides had deployed
  2. ATC recordings between the pilot and tower posted online soon after
  3. First time we have witnessed videos being posted on Periscope
  4. Passengers evacuating with their carry on bags, yet again!
  5. Las Vegas McCarran Airport does a fantastic job of keeping the public and the media informed
  6. A ramp agent posted first person accounts on Reddit!
  7. British Airways conspicuous by absence – no comments on their Facebook or Twitter feeds about the incident even four hours after it had blown up on social media.

In the following section, we give blow by blow details of the incident and how it was revealed online.

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Here’s how the British Airways Las Vegas fire played out online


While British Airways crew did well in evacuating the passengers, the airline’s lack of acknowledgement online left much to be desired. Is your airline ready for dealing with the connected traveller? Get in touch today, to discuss how SimpliFlying may be of help. Meanwhile, we re-iterate from our previous best practices on airline crisis communications:

Five Rules of Effective Crisis Communications:

  1. Acknowledge as quickly as you can that you know something has gone wrong.
  2. Establish official channels / pages where people can regularly seek updated information.
  3. Quickly get hold of accurate information and share it transparently, without corporate speak or legalese.
  4. Keep an eye out for rumours and quash them sooner than later.
  5. Follow-up is critical. A single, quick statement within two minutes is useless unless you follow-up regularly with updates, displaying your commitment to the cause.

You can further understand the importance of communicating the differences between Accidents and Incidents; or sign up for our Crisis Communications Report. Please do share your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet us @simpliflying

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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