Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 was a scheduled flight from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California, United States, on a Boeing 777 owned by Oceanic Airlines. Under mysterious circumstances, on September 22, 2004, the airliner, carrying 324 passengers, deviated from its original course and disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. This is the central moment in the series Lost and the chronological beginning of the main characters' exploits on Island.
Two months later, wreckage presumed to be Oceanic Flight 815 was found in the Sunda Trench which is in the Indian Ocean near Bali, and all passengers were presumed dead. In reality, however, the discovered wreckage was staged. The real plane had suffered a mid-air break-up and crashed on an uncharted Island, with more than 70 passengers surviving the crash itself. Later, six of those survivors made it off the Island and became known as the Oceanic Six.
Crew and passengers
There were 324 people on the plane, including flight crew. ("One of Us") Frank Lapidus later claimed that he was originally supposed to pilot Oceanic Flight 815 on that day, but was replaced by Seth Norris for reasons yet to be revealed. ("Confirmed Dead")
Some of the passengers' seat numbers have been revealed during the show, and many of the main characters' row numbers seem to correspond with the Numbers. Other seat numbers have also been revealed on ABC-sponsored websites such as Oceanic-air.com, although this information is to be considered non-canonical.
On September 22, 2004, at 14:15 local time, Oceanic Flight 815 left from gate 23, and took off from Sydney, Australia, scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles at 10:42. ("Exodus, Part 2") Sayid Jarrah later commented that the plane traveled in a northeastern direction, typical of commercial airliners on this route. ("Tabula Rasa")
Approximately six hours into the flight, Flight 815 encountered problems with their radio. Having lost contact with ground control, the pilot decided to alter course and "turn back" towards Fiji. Approximately two hours later, having traveled more than 1000 miles off their planned course, the plane hit turbulence, which eventually resulted in the plane's crash. ("Pilot, Part 1")
Eight hours after take-off would put Oceanic 815 on the Island around 10:15pm Sydney time, later local time since they were flying eastward (Fiji is 2 time zones later, Tahiti is 4). However, it is clearly mid-day when the plane lands. This is another indication of the time discrepancy between the Island and the outside world. ("The Economist") Similarly, Ajira Flight 316 will jump from night to day three years later. ("Namaste")
On September 22, 2004, Desmond Hume, who had been maintaining the DHARMA Initiative's electromagnetic station on the Island for the past three years, failed to enter the Numbers into the computer in time after having accidentally killed Kelvin Inman. This resulted in a system failure and an electromagnetic buildup. Although Desmond eventually managed to reset the Swan's countdown, the electromagnetic force had been strong enough to pull down the plane and cause it to break apart in mid-air. Desmond wouldn't come to realize his role in the crash until more than two months later. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1")
In the Season 3 Blu-ray disc special feature Access: Granted, Lost writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse explained that Desmond's failure to push the button caused electromagnetic forces to build up which interfered with the plane's instrumentation, causing it to crash on the Island.
Moments later, the front/cockpit section and the middle sections crashed on the other side of the Island. The front section crashed in the jungle, and as far as is known, everyone except the pilot was killed upon impact. Meanwhile, the middle section crossed over the island (dropping Jack Shephard in the jungle near the shore) and came to land on the beach, where the majority of the survivors landed. 48 passengers from the main fuselage section survived the crash, although Gary Troup was killed only moments later, when he was sucked into an engine and caused it to explode.("Pilot, Part 1")
Other debris scattered the Island, including the cargo compartment which landed mainly around the caves ("White Rabbit"), and a number of seats which landed in a natural pool in the jungle. ("Whatever the Case May Be")
Family members of those onboard only found out the plane was missing when they got to the arrival gate. News coverage about the mysterious disappearance of the plane was soon given a lot of airtime on channels such as WN News and even on Greek, Italian and Arabian television. Immediately after the plane's crash on the Island, Mikhail Bakunin started monitoring the news coverage from The Flame, and informed Ben Linus and Juliet Burke about the information he had been able to gather thus far once they arrived there. ("One of Us") It's currently still unclear how long the media coverage continued, and whether the search for the plane was still going on by the time of the purported discovery of the wreckage.
Even though Michael Dawson returned to the USA with his son Walt in December 2004, the two assumed false identities and didn't tell anyone about their whereabouts during the preceding two months, nor did they tell anyone about the Island or the other survivors of Flight 815. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
In the Find 815 alternate reality game, it was revealed that Oceanic executives later expressed profound disappointment that despite conducting the largest search operation in the company’s history, no trace of Flight 815 had yet been found. The abandonment of the search drew protests from relatives of the 324 missing persons, amongst them dozens of Ocenanic employees, like Sam Thomas. According to GMN World News, it was expected that the passengers of Flight 815 would be officially declared deceased. The events from the Find 815 ARG are not considered canonical.
Purported discovery of the wreckage
A little more than two months after the crash, purported wreckage of Flight 815 was discovered by remote operated vehicles deployed by a salvage ship, the Christiane I, in the Sunda Trench of the Indian Ocean near the Indonesian island of Bali, about 2800 miles north-west of Sydney, 90 degrees out from the flight's presumed route north-east to Los Angeles. Footage of the bodies of crew members and passengers were released to the media for television broadcast, and an information hotline for their family members was established by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. However, Frank Lapidus, upon watching a news broadcast about the discovery of the wreckage, quickly came to the conclusion that a body claimed to be that of the plane's pilot, Seth Norris, wasn't actually him. ("Confirmed Dead")On the Island, both Naomi Dorrit and Anthony Cooper independently informed Flight 815 survivors that the entire plane wreckage and the bodies of all its passengers had been found. ("The Brig") Later, Captain Gault of the freighter ship Kahana, sponsored by Charles Widmore, showed Sayid and Desmond the flight recorder of Flight 815 Widmore had salvaged from the wreckage, and stated that as far as he was concerned, the wreckage found in the Sunda Trench was staged, thereby implying that Benjamin Linus was responsible.("Ji Yeon") Meanwhile, Tom had provided Michael Dawson with evidence that suggested that Widmore was responsible. ("Meet Kevin Johnson") Miles was contacted by Naomi to "read" a dead man; Miles gathered that the man, Felix, had died while bringing Widmore evidence relating to the faked wreckage. ("Some Like It Hoth") This seems to be the same evidence Tom showed Michael.
An alternate version of the events leading up to the discovery of the wreckage was depicted in the Find 815 alternate reality game. Here, it was a single ROV operated by Sam Thomas that discovered the wreckage while the Christiane I was searching for the Black Rock, whereas in "Confirmed Dead", two ROVs were used, one of them being operated by a man named Ron and the other by an unnamed fellow member of his crew.
Charles Widmore admits to his son Daniel Faraday that he set up the fake wreckage of flight 815 when he offers him a job on the freighter.("The Variable")
The Oceanic Six
Six of the survivors of Flight 815 eventually made it off the Island, namely Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, Aaron Littleton, Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, Sayid Jarrah and Sun-Hwa Kwon. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1") The "Oceanic Six" told a fabricated story about their time on an uninhabited island near the staged wreckage (but not the Island), claiming that only three other people (Boone, Libby and Charlie) in addition to them actually survived the crash of the plane, and eventually died on the island before the remaining six were rescued. ("Eggtown") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1")
Prior to that, two other survivors of the crash, Michael Dawson and his son Walt Lloyd, had already left the Island, but kept their identities a secret and didn't tell anyone about their time on the Island, or that there were still other survivors. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
"Not meant to be"
Most of the survivors of Oceanic 815 were not supposed to be on the plane, or could quite have easily avoided it altogether. For most of these main characters, there is a reason why they should not have been on that plane or even out of Australia, adding to the sense of tragedy to the narrative, and connecting to the recurring theme of fate.
- Jack - Had he not heatedly argued the point, he would not have been allowed on the plane with his father's coffin. ("White Rabbit")
- Kate and Edward Mars - Had she not helped Ray Mullen, she would have still been on the run in Australia. It is most likely that Mars would still be there too. ("Tabula Rasa")
- Sawyer - Had he not gotten in a fight with an Australian government official in a bar, he would not have been deported. ("Exodus, Part 1")
- Locke - Had he informed the Walkabout Tours organizers of his paralysis, they would have denied his application. Once in Australia, Locke also should not have been let on the plane, as Oceanic didn't have a boarding wheelchair for him. ("Walkabout") ("Exodus, Part 2")
- Sun and Jin - Had Jin not taken out a lotus flower, Sun would have run away from the airport and he would have stayed to look for her. ("House of the Rising Sun")
- Claire - Had Richard Malkin not pressured her into taking the trip, the heavily pregnant Claire would not made a long international flight. ("Raised by Another") Also, had one of her two pens worked, Claire would have signed papers giving custody of Aaron to the Stewarts.
- Sayid - Had he not stayed in Australia to claim his friend Essam's body, Sayid would have been on the flight the day earlier. ("The Greater Good")
- Shannon and Boone - Had Boone trusted his instincts concerning his sister and her earlier cries for help, or had Bryan refused to take Boone's money, they would not have been going back to the U.S. together. ("Hearts and Minds")
- Michael and Walt - Had Michael relented in his quest for custody of Walt, or had Walt's mother Susan Lloyd not died, or had her husband Brian Porter not believed Walt bad luck, Walt would have remained in Australia and Michael in America. ("Special")
- Hurley - Had Hurley not deftly overcome the many impedances and hassles he encountered on his way to Gate 23, which would have deterred any less fanatical traveler, he would not have caught his flight. ("Exodus, Part 2")
- Charlie - Had Liam agreed to rejoin Drive Shaft, or had Charlie taken Liam up on his offer of shelter while he got clean from his heroin addiction, Charlie might have stayed in Australia with his brother past the flight date. ("The Moth")
- Ana Lucia - Had she not killed Jason McCormack and agreed to go with Christian Shephard to Australia to protect him, she would never have been on the flight. ("Two for the Road")
- Eko - Had Eko's monsignor not pressured him to investigate the miracle Eko didn't believe in to begin with, or had Eko extended his investigation, he would have left Australia on another flight. ("?")
- Arzt - Had his date not disappeared or had he stayed to see the Sydney bar scene, he wouldn't have purchased a ticket for an earlier flight back to Los Angeles. ("Tropical Depression")
- Nathan - Had he not stayed behind on holiday to sightsee after his company outing, he would have been on an earlier flight. ("The Other 48 Days")
- Joanna - Had she not gotten an ear infection, she would not have had to bump her flight 2 days. ("White Rabbit")
- Seth Norris - Had Frank Lapidus not been removed from his assignment as the pilot of Oceanic Flight 815, Norris would not have been aboard. ("Confirmed Dead")
- Faith Harrington - Had to book an early flight, due to her boyfriend killing one of her mentors. (Endangered Species)
- Dexter Cross - Stayed behind with girlfriend and her brother, instead of returning on a different flight. (Secret Identity)
- The aircraft that was depicted in the crash is in fact an ex-Delta Airlines Lockheed Martin L-1011-1 Tristar.
- There has been only one crash-landing involving the Boeing 777 since its debut. No deaths resulted from that incident, however there were 18 minor injuries.
- The 777 can take heavier turbulence than the human body can withstand. It is also fully automated with all manual backups and multiple backup systems for the transceiver.
- Gate 23 does not exist at the Sydney Airport nor does Gate 15 at Los Angeles.
- The show premiered on September 22, 2004, the same day as the crash. The crash date was confirmed narratively when Locke told Desmond the date. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1")
- September 22, 2004 was the date of the autumnal equinox, the moment the Sun crosses the plane of the equator from the northern hemisphere.
Unofficial TV station websites
- A British website, Lost The Untold, which was set up by Channel 4, a TV station that aired the first two seasons of Lost in the UK, offered a flight manifest for Oceanic Flight 815 that is inconsistent with information stated on the show itself, as well as details from the Oceanic-air.com website.
- A German site, 108minuten.de, which was set up by Pro Sieben, a TV station that airs Lost on free TV in Germany, also offers a flight manifest (by entering "oceanic", then "815" and then "manifest") that contains the names of other survivors that were never stated on the show itself. However, some of the names on the flight manifest are taken from the Lost The Untold website, while others appear to have been added by Pro Sieben themselves, without any direct involvement from the Lost producers, since it contains numerous errors (Joanna's name, for example, is incorrectly stated as "Ranting, Joanna", whereas Rose and Bernard's last name is stated as "Bernstein"). So this list has to be considered non-canonical. In addition to the manifest, there's also an "official flight transcript" that indicates that the pilot still had contact with Sydney Airport when the plane crashed, which contradicts his recount of how he lost communication with the ground prior to the crash in "Pilot, Part 1".
- In the second episode of the show Chuck on NBC, Chuck is being "tested" to see what data he knows from the government secrets that he witnessed. In this scene, he is told to say whatever first comes to mind about pictures that he sees. He says, "Oceanic Flight 815 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile...". (While the last part of the phrase isn't totally clear when listening, closed-caption confirms what is said.) Then the scene cuts.
- In the episode Inferno of the 2005/2006 cartoon series Transformers: Cybertron, the pilot of a military jet fighter identifies himself as "Oceanic Flight 815, requesting clearance for landing" right before the Decepticon Thundercracker scans the plane and adopting its form as his new disguise. The plane's ID code was one of many pop-cultural in-jokes explicitly added for the English dub of the show.
- In a preview of the iPhone OS 3.0, Phil Schiller was demonstrating copy and paste into an email for a flight to Hawaii, and Oceanic Flight 815 was one of the flight options.
- When creating a profile using Google's GMail, under the "A little personality" section, Oceanic Flight 815 is used as an example for "Something I can't find using Google."
- In the ending credits of the PC version of X-Men Origins:Wolverine special thanks is given to Flight 815
- "Oceanic Feeling" - In Chapter I of his book, Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud discusses a letter he received from his friend, the French novelist and mystic Romain Rolland. In this letter, Rolland describes what he calls the "Oceanic" feeling - that is, a feeling of eternity, a deep and innate connection with all things, a "oneness" with the world. Rolland, a "man of faith", sees this "Oceanic" feeling as being the primal source of all religion, but itself independent of any particular religion. Freud, an atheist and avowed "man of science" disagrees. While he admits that many people may experience this "Oceanic" feeling, he locates its source not in some mystical feeling of connection, but in an infantile helplessness experienced when confronted with a hostile world and the subsequent longing for the protection and guidance of the father. For Freud, this "Oceanic" feeling is "sustained by fear of the superior power of Fate."
- For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Oceanic Flight 815/Theories