Screaming passengers text loved ones 'goodbye' during terrifying flight

Passengers have described their terrifying moments on a plane trying to land in tornado-like weather, with some texting loved ones goodbye messages.

The scary incident took place aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 3461 that was bound for New Orleans in the US after leaving Fort Laurderdale.

Passengers have told of how they texted family members what they thought would be their final messages because they thought they were going to die.

Passengers were left screaming and crying during the scary moments.

Lauren Bale was a passenger on the plane. Source: WWL-TV

Passenger Lauren Bale tweeted during the incident, saying it was the most "terrifying experience" of her life.

"I'm a loyal Southwest customer but I cannot believe @SouthwestAir just tried to land in New Orleans during severe weather that meteorologists have been tracking for days," Lauren Bale tweeted.

"People were screaming and crying. Most terrifying experience of my life."

She later tweeted that the flight attendants had been yelling over the speakers instructing passengers to fasten seat belts as tightly as possible.

"I was texting my family goodbye. I just don't understand why @SouthwestAir put everyone in that situation," she said. "I honestly feel lucky to be alive."

When the plane was approaching the runway in New Orleans, the aircraft reportedly started to sway back and forth, WWL-TV reports.

"We came through the clouds and the plane was just tilting back and forth," Ms Bale said.

The New Orleans area had been warned of wild weather for a few days before the flight with tornado watches put in place. Residents were told to expect heavy rainfall and hail.

The pilot eventually pulled the plane out of the storm and rerouted to Panama City, Florida for a refuelling stop. The plane then landed in New Orleans four hours behind schedule.

The airline released a statement saying safety is their "top priority".

"[The flight] arrived about four hours behind schedule after persistent thunderstorms over New Orleans forced prolonged holding near New Orleans awaiting clearance from air traffic controllers followed by a refuelling stop in Panama City before the completion of the journey," the statement said.

"The safety of our customers and employees as well the safe operation of every flight is our highest priority."