RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Raleigh couple returning from a cruise ended up on a “horrifying” Southwest flight that was diverted from RDU, leaving them stranded with no info or food in a closed Myrtle Beach airport overnight — along with a full plane of fellow travelers.
The 9-hour ordeal involving Southwest flight 3094 included three passengers vomiting as the plane shook “like crazy” and another person who had a panic attack and passed out on the plane amid its wild approach into Raleigh — which was aborted at the last second at 1,350 feet, according to flight data and passenger Nicholas Reed.
“It was quite a horrifying experience — we go to land in Raleigh and the plane starts shaking like crazy — then they decide to tell us 15 minutes later we are going to Myrtle Beach,” said Reed, who was traveling with his girlfriend Krys Spence.
The passengers from the full Boeing 737 got safely on the ground at Myrtle Beach airport, but were first held on the plane itself for two hours and finally were set free inside the closed airport for nearly four hours, the couple said.
On Friday night, a Southwest official at the Myrtle Beach airport (MYR) said the plane diverted there because weather issues caused the jet to experience a low-fuel situation.
But once in the Myrtle Beach airport, the ordeal was far from over.
“We couldn’t go anywhere because they wouldn’t give us our luggage,” Reed said. “One group of guys found a bar and went behind it and just started pouring themselves drinks — because there was no security.”
Southwest Airlines has said weather forced the plane to head from RDU into Myrtle Beach.
The ordeal for Spence and Reed began when they were supposed to leave Baltimore for RDU around 7 p.m. Friday.
But, instead, the Southwest plane sat idling for 40 minutes with the engines running — burning precious fuel.
Finally, around 7:40 p.m. the jet took off for RDU. Around 9 p.m., the plane was nearing Raleigh.
“Coming into Raleigh they started landing like normal. We had the window open in our seat so we could actually see the ground,” explained Reed.
But the couple described the rough flight as they approached Raleigh International Airport Friday night.
“The wings were flapping. They were shaking,” Spence said.
“Two people were vomiting pretty close to us. But everyone was pretty silent. I guess they were just in suspense like ‘this could be it’,” Reed said.
However, Southwest flight 3094, coming from Baltimore took a different path far from Raleigh.
“Fifteen minutes goes by, and the captain comes back on and says ‘Hey, we are going to be in Myrtle Beach in 25 minutes.’ We were like ‘what?’” said Reed.
According to Flight Aware, as it approached RDU the jet’s altitude dropped as low as 1,350 feet.
Southwest Airlines said in a statement Saturday night:
“We made the decision to safely divert Southwest flight 3094 (BWI – RDU) to MYR due to weather conditions at RDU. We brought in another crew and aircraft to transport the passengers to their final destination as soon as we were able to safely do so.”
Spence said passengers were told another plane was on its way to Myrtle Beach to take them to Raleigh.
“Then that captain and our flight attendants all leave, and we get stuck in the airport. There were no vending machines in the entire terminal. Of course, all of the restaurants were closed down,” Reed said.
Finally, they say sometime after 1 a.m. an empty plane from Baltimore came and eventually flew everyone to Raleigh.
“When we got back here to Raleigh, 4 a.m., so, it was a really terrible experience. They didn’t offer us meal vouchers or anything. I was like, we fly Southwest all the time,” said Reed.
Southwest Airlines also said:
“We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage passengers to reach out to our customer relations team with any concerns.”