An Alaska Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Portland after one of the cabin windows exploded, creating a gaping hole and sucking out belongings from frightened passengers.
The packed commercial airliner took off from Portland International Airport around 5 PM Friday, heading for Ontario, California, but it had to quickly turn around after the window blew out.
As the plane flew back to Portland airport, sheer chaos ensued as oxygen masks rained down on the 171 passengers and tornado-like winds gusted through the cabin, causing a "pressurization issue," according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
During the next 15 minutes, scared passengers recorded videos of the harrowing experience and posted them on social media, showing the large hole in the side of the plane, where several items, including cell phones, were suctioned out.
Luckily, the Boeing 737-9 aircraft touched down safely and no one was seriously hurt, but a flight attendant sustained minor injuries.
One passenger, Vi Nguyen, told the New York Times ... she was jolted awake by a loud bang during the flight and turned to her left, seeing "the wall on the side of the plane is gone.” She added, “The first thing I thought was, ‘I’m going to die.'"
Her pal, Elizabeth Le, also spoke to the NYT, saying a teenage boy had lost his shirt and his skin was red and irritated as he sat with his mom in their seats.
Flight attendants were trying to help them move to another section of the plane, Le said, recalling, “It was honestly horrifying. I almost broke down, but I realized I needed to remain calm.”
Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci issued a statement Friday night, saying the company is temporarily grounding its fleet of 65 Boeing 737-9 aircraft for full inspection and maintenance as a precautionary measure.
Minicucci also apologized to the passengers on the flight and confirmed the National Transportation Safety Board is spearheading an investigation into what caused the incident.