Alaska Airline Passengers Sue Boeing After Frightening Mishap

Six Alaska Airlines passengers filed suit against Boeing on Thursday less than a week after a door plug flew off a plane in midair. The alarming incident unfolded last week after the aircraft took off from Portland, Oregon.

Lawyers in the class-action lawsuit seek damages for the suffering of passengers after a hole suddenly appeared in the side of their airplane. The filing was made in King County Superior Court in Seattle.

Attorney Daniel Laurence noted that while there were no physical injuries in the incident, “this nightmare experience has caused economic, physical and ongoing emotional consequences.” He called it another “black mark” on the history of the 737-MAX series aircraft.

The flight was only six minutes into its journey to California and had reached an altitude of 16,000 feet.

That was when the door plug released and fell to the ground. Oxygen masks descended from the ceiling as frightened passengers saw the resulting hole in the side of the plane.

Had the aircraft reached its cruising altitude and the seatbelt signs disappeared, the incident could have easily been fatal.

According to the suit, the rapid depressurization “ripped the shirt off a boy, and sucked cell phones, other debris, and much of the oxygen out of the aircraft.” The boy ran to the front of the plane and two other passengers located near the hole moved to seats nearer to the front.

The filing said alarmed passengers worried that they would not live through the ordeal.

As panic spread, “thoughts of a complete plane malfunction and possible destruction naturally entered their minds. Some prayed. Some texted family to express their trepidation. Some gripped and clung to one another. Some adult passengers were crying.”

The plane was forced to immediately turn back and make an emergency landing at Portland International Airport.

As a result of the mishap, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded some of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 fleet. An investigation into the cause of the door plug’s release is ongoing, but passengers did not wait on the outcome to sue Boeing.

In a letter sent by the FAA to Boeing Wednesday, the agency said it learned of other issues with 737 aircraft.

The day before, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told a town hall staff meeting that “We’re going to approach this, No. 1, acknowledging our mistake.”