The human-like sounds started before takeoff and continued in the air, especially early in the flight and during the service, Collins told the Washington Post. In the video, the voices range from groans and grumbles to shouts.
“I swear it’s a joke,” a flight attendant can be heard telling Collins in the video.
At one point, a flight attendant comes over the intercom to apologize for the “sound very annoying” and says the pilots are working to mitigate the problem. Once you’ve finished speaking, sounds reappear, like “ho!” And my throat moan.
Collins said he walked down the aisle, looking for the source of the noise, expecting it to be evident in the narrow space of the cabin.
“I’m Nancy Drewing my way in looking for someone who seems to be fully enjoying themselves,” he said. “Of course, I didn’t see anything.”
Airbus A321 has landed safely in Dallas. Collins said he found the incident amusing and that cabin crew reassured passengers that there were no safety concerns.
“This was just a very modern form of immersive in-flight entertainment,” he said.
After Collins posted the video last week, the mystery deepened when passengers on other US flights in recent months reported the same set of noises.
“It wasn’t the whole flight, but weird sounds and phrases periodically. Then a huge ‘oh yeah’ when we landed. We thought the pilot left his microphone on,” journalist Doug Bonner chirp About his last trip from Orlando to Dallas.
CTO, Brad Allen, wrote that he and his wife experienced noise on a US flight in July.
“To be clear, it was like the whining and groaning of someone in excruciating pain,” Allen wrote. “The crew said it’s happened before, and they have no explanation.”
These incidents sparked amateur espionage online, with theories ranging from a prank such as a passenger dragging the crew’s microphone into a bathroom to a more nefarious proposal to hack flight systems.
American Airlines spokeswoman Sarah Gantz said in a statement that the intercom systems on the company’s planes are connected to a hard core without any external access or a WiFi component.
“Following the initial report, our maintenance team thoroughly examined the aircraft and the PA system and determined that the sounds were caused by a mechanical problem with the PA amplifier, which raises the volume of the PA system when the engines are running,” she said. The first report the airline received was a Santa Ana Dallas flight on Sept. 18, according to Gantz.
“Our team is reviewing additional reports,” she added.
If the sounds were due to a technical problem, Collins said, “the ghost in the machine has a good sense of humor.”
“The comedic timing of the sounds seemed so well planned that it wasn’t just a technical glitch,” he said. “But honestly, I have no idea.”
“Infuriatingly humble analyst. Bacon maven. Proud food specialist. Certified reader. Avid writer. Zombie advocate. Incurable problem solver.”