Terrified Spirit Airlines passengers brace for emergency water landing on flight from Jamaica to Florida

A Spirit Airlines flight from Jamaica to Florida saw chaotic scenes as its pilot told frightened passengers to prepare for an emergency water landing.

Flight NK270 was forced to return to the Caribbean Island’s Montego Bay shortly after takeoff on Sunday following a “suspected mechanical issue.”

Before the Airbus plane returned to the airport, passengers said they were told by the pilot to “prepare for emergency water landing” — which saw some onboard “freaking out and panicking.”

Passenger Bettina Rogers captured video of the plane’s takeoff in which a chiming signal can be heard twice in the cabin, though the meaning of the signal is unclear.

Shortly after the signal, the pilot told passengers there was “nothing to be alarmed about”, according to CNN.

A Spirit Airlines flight from Jamaica to Florida became a site of chaos on Sunday (AP)
A Spirit Airlines flight from Jamaica to Florida became a site of chaos on Sunday (AP)

About five minutes later, the pilot informed passengers the plane needed to return to the Montego Bay airport, Rogers said. But as the plane turned back, she said, the pilot announced, “Prepare for emergency water landing.”

“It was scary, and people were freaking out and panicking,” Rogers said.

Meanwhile, passenger Andrene Gordon described the ordeal as a “near-death experience.”

“The pilot said there was a slight issue, nothing major, ‘so we are just gonna turn back and go to the airport,’” she told Jamaican outlet The Gleaner.

“We never knew we would actually make it to the ground because all we were seeing was literal water… it was total chaos,” Ms Gordon added.

Despite the chaos, the plane landed safely back in Jamaica’s Sangster International Airport and guests were able to deplane normally, according to CBS News.

Spirit said the “mechanical issue did not affect flight safety” and the emergency landing instructions were given “out of an abundance of caution.”

Passengers were given a $50 credit and out on a new flight to Fort Lauderdale, where they arrived just 45 minutes behind schedule.

But passengers have said the $50 credit was not enough following the incident, with Gordon saying it felt like ‘a slap on the face.’

“After that near-death experience and emotional distress, Spirit wants to offer US$50 credit to use by August of this year,” she told The Gleaner.

“I feel like that is a slap in the face because they put us through such a traumatic experience with an incompetent crew. That is just so unacceptable.”

Spirit has apologized to guests “for any inconvenience.”

“Safety is our top priority, and the aircraft will be thoroughly evaluated by our maintenance team,” the airline added.

Just a day after the Spirit scare, a United Airlines flight aborted takeoff after the plane engine caught fire while on the taxiway at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

Also on Monday, a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Tampa, Florida, was diverted to Colorado Springs after the flight attendants reported “a possible smell of smoke in the cabin,” according to a Southwest statement.

Meanwhile, last week, a 73-year-old British man died from a suspected heart attack after the Singapore Airlines flight he was travelling on was hit by turbulence, forcing it to divert to Bangkok.

Seven other people were left in critical condition following the violent turbulence.