‘It was scary as hell,’ says passenger after experiencing plane wall breaking off mid-flight

A flight attendant providing safety instructions to passengers before the plane takes off. Picture: Unsplash

A flight attendant providing safety instructions to passengers before the plane takes off. Picture: Unsplash

Published Jan 9, 2024


“It was so cold with all that air coming in.”

Those are the words of Kyle Rinker, an American writer, who took to X to share the experience of having the “wall of the plane” break off in mid-flight.

It was "scary as hell", he added.

The Alaska Airlines’ Flight 1282 was travelling from Portland, Oregon, en route to Ontario, California, when it had to return and make an emergency landing on Friday, January 5, after the plug door on the left side of the Boeing 737 Max 9 tore off.

Rinker said he had been been sitting across from the the door at the time.

“Two people missed the plane that were supposed to sit right there. Talk about being blessed they missed it,” said Rinker.

Alaska Airlines said several passengers had required required medical attention for their injuries. All of them had since been been medically cleared.

It was reported that a mother had to hold her child in his seat and that some passengers’ phones were sucked out of the plane because of the sudden depressurisation.

In a statement, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci apologised to the passengers.

“My heart goes out to those who were on this flight – I am so sorry for what you experienced. I am so grateful for the response of our pilots and flight attendants,” he said.

The airlines had temporarily ground its 737-9 MAX fleet on January 6, pending an inspection of the planes.

Alaska Airlines said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had assumed the lead role in the investigation whilst Alaska’s safety and technical teams, along with representatives from Boeing, were closely involved in supporting the NTSB.

“As we navigate the impacts of the 737-9 MAX grounding on our operation, we have cancelled 170 Sunday flights affecting roughly 25 000 guests. We expect additional significant cancellations through the first half of the week.

“We are awaiting further instruction from both the FAA and Boeing to begin the required inspections on the door plug of our 737-9 MAX fleet and will share information as we’re able,” said the airline on it website.

The airline’s latest communication on January 7, said the grounding of flights had severely impacted its operations.

Cancellations would continue through the first half of the week. The airline encouraged travellers to continue to check their email and alaskaair.com for updates.