Passengers aboard a Delta flight en route to Fort Lauderdale were halfway through their trip when their plane had to suddenly drop nearly 30,000 feet after pilots noticed a "cabin pressurization irregularity."
Passengers boarded Delta Flight 2353 from Atlanta, Georgia Wednesday afternoon with its original destination as Fort Lauderdale. However, the aircraft had to be diverted to Tampa International Airport after pilots discovered there was a problem with the cabin's air pressure. At the altitudes where jumbo jets travel, low oxygen-levels can quickly immobilize people and even lead to death. That meant the Delta pilots had to quickly take the plane from 39,000 feet to 10,000 feet within minutes.
The flight devolved into chaos as passengers began texting their loved ones and oxygen masks appeared inside the cabin.
"Out of nowhere, I felt what felt like a sort of a rapid descent," one passenger on board the flight, Harris DeWoskin, told WFTS. "We started dropping in altitude and then the oxygen masks dropped from the top of the plane. Chaos sort of ensued amongst the passengers."
That's when one of the flight attendants got on the intercom and attempted to calm passengers down as the plane continued its rapid descent.
“One of the flight attendants, I believe, grabbed the intercom and was just repeating over the intercom stating, ‘Do not panic! Do not panic!’ But, obviously, it’s a hectic moment so, the passengers around me, a lot of people, were kind of hyperventilating," DeWoskin said.
According to FlightAware, which tracks telemetry data from aircraft around the world, Flight 2353 descended from 39,000 feet at 4:34 p.m.
According to a statement from Delta, the passengers deplaned in Tampa without incident or any injuries.
We apologize to our customers on flight 2353 from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, which diverted to Tampa out of an abundance of caution and landed without incident following a cabin pressurization irregularity en route.
The plane is currently grounded and is being evaluated by mechanics on the ground at Tampa International Airport to determine what went wrong with the flight.
“Life is fragile. There was a scary 60 to 90 seconds where we really didn’t know what was going on,” DeWoskin said. “You are 15,000 feet in the air; it’s a scary moment for sure."
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