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Certain Boeing Max jets grounded after Alaska Airlines emergency landing: Live updates

by Staff

7:18 p.m. ET, January 6, 2024

Alaska Airlines passenger says she drafted final texts to loved ones after section of plane blew out

Stephanie King wears an oxygen mask while recording a video aboard her Alaska Airlines flight on Friday.

Stephanie King

Stephanie King told CNN she was returning to her home in California after a visit to Portland when she heard a loud roar of wind on her Alaska Airlines flight Friday. 

King said she was seated in an aisle seat in row 12. Several rows back, a section of the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft had blown out shortly after takeoff.

“I just knew that something bad had happened. I wasn’t sure what was going on and felt pretty scared,” she told CNN by phone Saturday.

King said flight attendants made announcements, but because the plane was open, it was too loud for her to hear much of what was being said.

Several passengers closer to the hole in the plane were frantic and moved to empty seats away from the incident, King told CNN.

“One of the ladies was screaming and crying. She was inconsolable. She kept saying, ‘My son! My son! He got his shirt ripped off!'” King said. “It was absolutely surreal.”

Fearing for her safety, King told CNN she took out her phone to record video and draft final text messages to her loved ones.

“Because I was flying alone, I drafted some text messages to my boyfriend and my mom to say something was going on, that I was scared and I love them,” she said.

King said while it felt like “forever,” the plane safely landed less than 10 minutes after the incident. 

“That was more than enough time to freak out though. I heard that peoples’ cell phones and shoes and shirts got thrown out the window. Anything could’ve happened,” she added.

Shortly after the emergency landing, firefighters boarded the plane to see if there were injuries. Once the area was cleared, the de-boarding process started, King told CNN.

“It was then really calm. Everybody was just in shock. We were all still so confused. Everybody was super quiet. It was eerie, actually, how quiet and calm everybody was just because it was so unreal,” she told CNN.

King said she is still processing the event, but she has received communication and unspecified compensation from Alaska Airlines.

“It’s unsettling that there have been so many issues with this specific type of plane. I hope something is done so that this doesn’t happen again because it went okay this time but might not next time,” King said.

Aircraft troubles: Engineering and quality problems have plagued Boeing in recent years. The aircraft maker has seen a string of incidents that have resulted in tragedies, groundings and ongoing worries about safety.
All 737 Max planes were grounded in 2019 across dozens of countries following crashes of two of its jets — one in Ethiopia and one near Indonesia — that killed all 346 people on board. It was determined a design flaw in the plane was a major cause of the crashes. The US grounding lasted 20 months, with planes starting to return to service in December 2020.

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