air travel

‘It was just chaotic': Passengers don life vests on Florida-bound Spirit flight forced to return to Jamaica

The incident happened Sunday on Spirit Airlines flight 270 from Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

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Travelers on a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, received quite a scare when they were told to put on their life vests after a suspected mechanical issue forced their plane to return to Jamaica.

The incident happened Sunday on Spirit Airlines flight 270 from Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

A Spirit spokesperson said the plane suffered a suspected mechanical issue and returned to Montego Bay out of an abundance of caution.

But during the incident, travelers were instructed to don their life vests.

Video posted on social media showed passengers sporting the yellow life vests as a member of the flight crew can be heard giving instructions.

Cellphone video shows passengers wearing life vests as a Spirit flight made an emergency landing in Montego Bay Sunday.

Passengers said they were in the air for about 10 minutes when the pilot told everyone to prepare for a water landing. Over 200 passengers were then told to put on the life vests.

“He told us exactly that we needed to make an emergency water landing and at that point, fear ran through my bones. Everyone on the plane panicked," passenger Will Smith said. “When I looked out of the window, all I saw was blue, so I’m thinking this is real. We’re about to go in the ocean. I’m saying my prayers to die at this point, seriously. It was that traumatizing. I thought I was not going to make it.”

Shancy Faison was on the flight with her husband and said her life jacket wouldn't open at first, causing some momentary panic.

“They didn’t specify what was wrong," Faison said. "We were returning back, making a U-turn back into the island, to the airport. Then shortly, I would say 10 to 15 minutes into landing before we arrived, he made an announcement saying that we were going to have an emergency water landing. That’s when everyone freaked out. It was just chaotic. Everyone started grabbing their emergency vests under their seats. We saw the flight attendants running back and forth on the plane. Some were saying put on our vests, some were saying do not put on our vests. I then reached under my seat to try to try and retrieve my water vest and the case the vest was in would not open.”

The plane landed safely and guests deplaned. No injuries were reported.

"Safety is our top priority, and the aircraft will be thoroughly evaluated by our maintenance team," Spirit said in a statement. "We apologize to our Guests for any inconvenience, and we arranged a new aircraft to complete the flight to Fort Lauderdale."

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