JAKARTA, Indonesia – The Indonesian mother of three had flown without her kids before, but this was the first time she gave her eldest a to-do list in case something happened on the flight she and her husband were taking.
“I never worried like this before what happened with the missing Malaysia Airlines plane,” Yulveri, who like many Indonesians uses only a single name, said at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
At airports across Asia and around the world, Flight 370 and its 239 passengers and crew, now lost for more than a month, are topics of avid speculation and sometimes anxiety. Passengers typically remain confident about the safety of air travel, but some are distressed by the disappearance, which — given the number of people involved — is unprecedented in aviation industry.
“The mystery over the missing plane had created many confusing, even terrifying, theories every day,” Yulveri said. “And the black-box must be found whenever and however, or it will become a black hole in the aviation world.”
Before she and her husband, an air force officer, left for a week-long tour of Japan’s Hokkaido island, she talked to her 15-year-old daughter and asked her to take care of her younger siblings.
“What are you talking about, Mom?” Yulveri quoted her daughter as saying. “You will come home. We all will be fine.”
Here’s what air travellers across Asia said Wednesday, Thursday and Friday when they were asked, “One month later, how does the Flight 370 mystery affect your attitude toward flying?”
Yue Caifei, 65, a retired engineer from Tianjin, China, waiting at Beijing Capital Airport to set off on a 15-day group tour of the U.S.:
“I’m not afraid at all. Flying is generally really safe and accidents are really, really rare. What’s the point of being afraid? We’re living a good life, our children are grown and it’s time for us to enjoy life. I’m going off to Hawaii and San Francisco and when I get back let’s go get a drink.”
Jin Bijian, 34, a website-television multimedia producer headed from Beijing to Hong Kong to accompany a friend on a shopping trip:
“I’m really scared. I’ve always been a nervous flier and this only makes things worse. We have to find out what happened to the plane. We need to know what the risks are. Otherwise, it feels like anything can go wrong and we just don’t know.”
Greg Corbishley, 49, who was heading home to London from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport after a business trip to Thailand and Cambodia:
“Flying is still probably the safest means of transport. And until we find the plane and find out what happened, I think that stays the case.”
Sinead Boylan, 26, of Liverpool, England, flying from Bangkok to Australia after backpacking across Asia:
“It’s scarier than it was. I’m a little more cautious, a little more worried, I’d say.”
Kim Hyun-shik, 56, a retired banker travelling out of Seoul’s Incheon International Airport for a 10-day trip to Turkey with his wife:
“It makes me a little nervous. … It’s amazing to think that people have disappeared, just like that. Science has developed so much, yet we can’t do a basic search of a jet. As time goes by, it will be like trying to find a needle in a river.”
Skander Aissa, who works in the finance industry in Connecticut, at the airport train in Hong Kong. He and his wife were travelling to Taiwan after visiting a friend:
“No fear. You take a risk when you take the plane all the time, anyway. It doesn’t matter if you’re flying now or tomorrow. It is what it is.”
Jacques Niclair, a 65-year-old Mauritius businessman who arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a Malaysia Airlines flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka:
“I can tell you that I slept very well on board. It didn’t affect me. I was not worried. … As long as we don’t know what happened to the plane, we should be supportive of Malaysia Airlines. It is going through a tough time.”
Wajihah Abdul Fatah, 19, a Malaysian student headed home on a Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to her hometown in Sarawak state on Borneo island:
“I am so very afraid that something will happen to my plane like MH370, but I just have to believe in Allah and pray that I will be safe. I have to fly. I have no choice because I miss my family.”
Nurul Shuhada Rosnan, 19, was at the Kuala Lumpur airport to see off Wajihah, her friend:
“I have decided not to take any flight for the next two years. How can a plane just disappear like that?”
Joyce Cole, who lives near Perth, Australia, where she was catching a flight to Bali, Indonesia, for a holiday:
“I’m still fine with flying. But when it first happened, you think, ‘Oh my goodness.’ But you do it that regularly it doesn’t bother you. And I think that whoever took that plane, obviously it must have been something to do with terrorism, and you just hope there are no terrorists on our plane.”
Jane Barnes, Cole’s daughter, who also was travelling to Bali:
“I don’t feel any differently. I fly quite often, probably about every 8 to 10 weeks. But even when I do fly that often, I still have quite a few butterflies on the plane. Any little bumps, I’m just, ‘Hang on,’ and I’m holding my breath. But you just bear it. … I think you can’t let these things interfere with your life. If you have plans, and you have holidays to go to, and, what do they say about life, you just keep going with it.”
Duang-ramon Paaptanti, 37, a Thai woman who studies at a Japanese university and was leaving Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong:
“That was a one-off thing and things like that don’t happen very often, but it makes me want to communicate more with my family. You become more cautious. You make sure that you say your goodbyes properly.”
Associated Press writers Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nick Perry in Perth, Australia, Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Todd Pitman in Bangkok, Jung-yoon Choi in Seoul, South Korea, Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Yuriko Nagano in Tokyo contributed to this report.