A BRITISH Airways stewardess activated the emergency slide as her plane taxied to the runway – costing the airline £50,000 and delaying passengers for more than five hours.
The crew member was on her debut flight on an Airbus A350 and accidentally opened an emergency door on Sunday afternoon.
The worker’s “inexplicable” bungle sparked emergency services to rush to Terminal 5 and surround Flight BA191.
Firefighters and police officers raced to the runway and gutted passengers braced for take-off were told they faced at least a five hour wait.
The plane had to be replaced and a new emergency slide found for the original jet.
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The mortified new flyer was ‘stood down’ from all duties by furious BA bosses.
She was ordered back to training – the same edict for any crew member who ‘blows’ a slide.
The incident has raised serious questions over the training of new crew members – especially after the exact same thing happened prior to a BA flight to Lagos in January.
Engineers were called to lift the rubber emergency slide from the tarmac as the plane was towed back to the stand yesterday.
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But the entire slide needed replacing by irate bosses.
A BA source said: “The stewardess has had a shocker.
“The most basic training teaches new recruits how not to blow a slide. It a worry just who is joining the airline.
“The cost of the bungle, including the delays, is around £50K.”
British Airways told The Sun: “The aircraft returned to stand and customers disembarked normally. We arranged a replacement aircraft for them to continue their journey the same day and have apologised for the inconvenience caused.”