Passengers aboard the Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to land in Ohio on Wednesday because of a broken window said they heard a “loud pop” — and immediately thought of the woman who recently died after being partially sucked out of a plane mid-flight.
Chris Speros of Chicago said he was about 10 rows away from the faulty passenger window when it suddenly cracked en route to Newark Liberty International Airport.
“There was a loud pop and then the pilot came out and then checked things out and then he announced we had to divert to Cleveland,” Speros, visibly shaken, said after landing at the New Jersey airport. “It was pretty tense because he announced there was a crack in the window. We still had pressure in the cabin, but he wasn’t sure how much longer we were going to have it.”
Paul Upshaw said passengers quickly moved away from the busted window, fearing the worst.
“They didn’t want the same tragedy that happened before,” Upshaw said, referring to Jennifer Riordan, who died April 17 after being partially sucked out of a Southwest flight when an engine exploded and debris shattered a window. “It made you nervous because something like this just happened a little while ago and we didn’t know if it was going to crack open or anything like that.”
Upshaw said the startling noise was “enough you heard it like five rows from the crack. It wasn’t a boom, but it was a crack. People just started to disperse. Probably three or four rows from there, they just started to disperse from there.”
Flight 957 had taken off from Chicago Midway Airport at 8:36 a.m. and diverted to Cleveland while flying over Lake Erie.
Speros, a 27-year-old investment banker, and the 75 other passengers were taken off the Boeing 737 and boarded another one at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. They landed safely in Newark just after 1 p.m.
Speros said passengers were freaked out over the terrifying ordeal.
“It was pretty tense for sure,” he said.
No one was injured. Southwest said the plane was diverted for a “maintenance review” and that the pilots never declared an emergency before landing. The cabin never lost pressure.
Rachel Robinson and her family were also aboard the flight.
“It’s just unfortunate timing with the other event that happened,” Robinson said. “My mom said, ‘Don’t let [your brother] sit next to the window,’ but we let him sit next to the window. It didn’t make us the least bit nervous flying with Southwest.”
Another passenger, Pam Howen, thanked crew members for ensuring everyone was safe.
“Southwest did a great job. They managed the problem and we’re all here an hour and a half late and I couldn’t say better things,” the Baltimore resident said.
Asked if the situation was scary, Howen answered, “It wasn’t for me. And they handled it super well.”