Life vests deployed on Spirit Airlines flight that had to turn back to Jamaica

A Spirit Airlines passenger is recalling tense moments after a suspected mechanical issue on a flight from Jamaica to Florida.

Spirit Airlines Flight 270 was heading from Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale Sunday when Bettina Rogers said passengers were told there was a sensor issue with the plane’s doors. Video she shared on TikTok shows the Airbus making a dinging sound as it ascended.

“It wasn't enough to where (the pilot) felt like he needed to, at the moment, turn back around. He was like, ‘Just stay tuned for a message.’ He kept us very informed,” Rogers told USA TODAY. “The next time he got on the intercom, he said, ‘OK, folks, we're going to do an emergency landing. We're going to head back so that I can get the mechanics and the engineers to take a look at it.’”

Rogers said no one seemed alarmed because they understand planes have to turn around sometimes to check things.

“Five minutes later, it was ‘Flight attendants, prepare for emergency landing,’ so they got ready.’” she said. “Another five minutes went by and he said, ‘Flight attendants prepare for emergency water landing.’ That's when the whole plane went frantic.”

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A Spirit Airlines plane takes off at Los Angeles International Airport in this file image from June 1, 2023.
A Spirit Airlines plane takes off at Los Angeles International Airport in this file image from June 1, 2023.

Rogers described people crying, getting sick and being scared. “I specifically remember the flight attendant coming on and saying, ‘Power down your phones and prepare for emergency water landing. Don your life vests.’ “

Spirit confirmed passengers were told to put on life vests out of an abundance of caution, but stressed the suspected issue “did not affect flight safety.”

“The plane landed safely at MBJ and taxied to the terminal where guests deplaned under normal procedures,” Spirit said in a statement. “Safety is our top priority, and the aircraft will be thoroughly evaluated by our maintenance team.”

Passengers were put on a different plane to fly back to Fort Lauderdale, and the airline apologized for any inconvenience. Rogers said they were also given meal vouchers and flight credit for future travel.

She noted everyone paid extra attention to the flight attendants’ safety instructions on that second flight and made sure they knew where to find their life vests.

“Listen to that safety demonstration,” she said. “As much as we feel like it's mundane and it's not something that we really need to listen to, you never know.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Spirit Airlines passenger recalls bracing for emergency water landing