"We were about three hours into the flight when an automated message came over saying, 'This is an emergency. We will shortly be making an emergency landing on water,'" flight passenger Duncan Farquharson told the Daily Mail.
The automated message, which began while the plane was at about 35,000 feet in the air during its voyage from Miami to London, apparently was triggered when one of the plane's pilots accidentally bumped it in the cockpit's tight quarters.
Farquharson says the passengers then braced for the worst, assuming they were all about to die. "We looked at each other and figured we were both about to die," Farquharson said. "Families with children were distraught and people were in tears. It was very distressing."
Another passenger, Michelle Lord, told the Telegraph: "People were terrified, we all thought we were going to die. They said the pilot hit the wrong button because they were so close together."
About 30 seconds later, a crewmember "casually" announced that the crash warning was played by accident and that the plane and passengers were not in any danger.
"Imagining yourself plunging toward a cold, watery grave in the middle of the Atlantic is a pretty horrific thought," Duncan Farquharson. "But they seemed pretty blase about it."
British Airways issued an apology to customers after the incident for any "undue stress."
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