BANGOR, Maine (CBS SF/AP) — Art and Ben Friedman and their fellow passengers on an United Airlines San Francisco to Amsterdam flight got quite a scare early Monday morning.
Just as they about to head over the Atlantic, United Flight 968 suffered a problem with its cabin pressure. Passengers said oxygen masks dropped and the jetliner quickly descended.
“It was frightening,” Art Friedman told WABI, the CBS affiliate Bangor, Maine. “I’ve flown many, many times and never experienced anything like that. There was a very, very rapid descent with the pilot saying over the speaker something like –‘Emergency descent’.”
Fellow passenger Mircel Kiok said there was a feeling of panic among many onboard.
“The air masks fell down,” Kiok told the television station. “You saw it on screen, we dropped immediately from say 10 km to 3 km and then the screens went down because everyone was in panic but finally we survived.”
Art Friedman’s son Ben also felt the anxiety of those aboard.
“Everyone was just kind of…they were scared but they were all kind of, I don’t know, felt like a community,” Ben Friedman said. “I guess it’s weird It’s as everyone knew we were in the situation together.”
Once the plane reached 10,000 feet, the Friedmans said the crew told the passengers the plane was in good shape and they were going to be making a landing in Maine.
“They first said the plane was going to be landing in Newark, but then said we were going to be landing here (Bangor, Maine), so the plane must not have been in as good of shape as they thought,” Art Friedman said. “It was harrowing…We just wanted to land. We are glad to be here.”
The jet was quickly diverted to Bangor International Airport where an airline spokesman said it landed safely around 1:25 EDT and the 13 crew members helped 197 passengers off the plane.
An United spokesman said the airline provided passengers accommodations with plans to fly to Newark, New Jersey, later on Monday, and then on to Amsterdam.
Bangor’s location makes it a good place for trans-Atlantic flights to divert for refueling, mechanical problems or unruly passengers. It’s the nation’s last major airport for outgoing flights and the first for incoming flights.