TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS/CNN/AP) - On Wednesday afternoon, Delta Air Lines diverted an Atlanta flight headed to Florida after an unknown issue caused the cabin’s oxygen masks to be released. The plane dropped nearly 30,000 feet during an 8-minute period.
The Fort Lauderdale-bound plane made an emergency landing at Tampa International Airport about an hour after it left Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“Out of nowhere I felt what felt like a sort of a rapid descent we started dropping in altitude and then air masks, the oxygen masks dropped from the top of the plane. Chaos sort of ensued amongst the passengers," Harris DeWoskin, a Delta Flight 2353 passenger, said.
DeWoskin snapped photos during what he described as panic onboard the plane.
“Initially it was sort of a panic. There wasn’t really any forewarning. The oxygen masks dropped down. Then one of the flight attendants, I believe, grabbed the intercom and was just repeatedly 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 - breathing really hard," DeWoskin said.
A statement by Delta says the plane was diverted out of an abundance of caution over the “cabin pressure irregularity.” It says the plane is now being evaluated by maintenance technicians.
“Eventually the captain came over the intercom and sort of explained there was a cabin pressure issue, a pressurization issue, so they began quickly descending obviously to get to some air that was more breathable, but they weren’t able to get low enough quick enough to keep the oxygen masks from falling down," DeWoskin said.
Safe on solid ground, DeWoskin is thankful it wasn’t worse.
“Life is fragile - like there was a scary 60 to 90 seconds where we really didn’t know what was going on," he said.
Delta said the passengers were bused about four hours to their original destination. According to Delta’s website, the plane was a Boeing 767.