FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A scare in the air Friday as nearly a hundred passengers had no choice but to slide down emergency chutes after a JetBlue flight headed to Fort Lauderdale made an emergency landing.
“It was a very long experience, and a very long day,” said traveler Dana Schmitt.
Schmitt was among the nearly 100 passengers who boarded the JetBlue flight from Westchester to Fort Lauderdale.
“It was an 8, 9-hour flight to fly down from New York to Florida,” said passenger Barry Cohen. “It was a little longer than we expected, but better to be safe than sorry. We’re here. It’s all over.”
Passengers say a series of escalating events onboard signaled something was wrong.
“The air conditioners started malfunctioning and it got really hot,” explained Schmitt. “And then they started to say there’s an unknown source of smoke, didn’t know where it was from and they needed to descend. Kind of got scary at that point because they were telling us to brace ourselves.”
Cohen added, “They started to read from the brochure all of the instructions to all of us on the plane on what to do.”
The plane made an emergency landing in South Carolina, where passengers hit the slides and emergency crews were waiting for them on the tarmac.
“A lot of us had our personal items, and even my brother, he had to leave his phone on the plane,” a passenger said.
Most people did, leaving behind their wallets, their boarding passes and more.
Meantime, Pete Waschaenko waited for hours at FLL for his 88-year-old blind uncle.
“He’s a little shaky,” Waschaenko said. Didn’t know he was going on a carnival ride on the plane, but they took him down the slide safely.”
After being stranded in Charleston for several hours, the weary travelers boarded another final flight to their destination.
Passengers told us they were very impressed with how JetBlue handled the situation.
The FAA says the investigation into what happened is ongoing.