Severe Turbulence Injures Five People On United Flight

Most of the time, turbulence is just an uncomfortable, if not almost inevitable part of flying. But then there are the times when turbulence is downright terrifying and a real danger. Three flight attendants and five passengers on a United Airlines flight yesterday from Denver to Billings, Mont. were injured when the plane hit turbulence so severe, people were tossed from their seats.

One passenger tells USA Today she had just taken a picture of clear blue skies over Montana right before the turbulence slammed the plane.

“I thought ‘Wow! Yeah, this is it,'” she said of the terrifying 25 seconds or so. “It’s the most helpless feeling ever – to just be sitting there and not have any control over anything.”

She says the plane then turned sharply to the right and started to plunge.

“Everything flew out of everybody’s hands,” she said. “It was quite surreal.”

Some passengers weren’t wearing seat belts and hit the ceiling, said another passenger. He says one woman hit the ceiling so hard that the panel above her cracked.

“I have flown a lot and I do know you run into things like this,” he said. “This happened to be a lot rougher than what I’m accustomed to.”

A United spokesman said one flight attendant remained hospitalized late Monday night.

“Our primary focus is assisting our employees and passengers who were injured, and our flight safety team will review what happened,” the airline’s statement said.

The turbulence hit while the plane was descending, and the plane landed in Billings yesterday afternoon at 1:23 p.m. That landing wasn’t smooth either, said the female passenger.

“We did hit a little bit of turbulence right before we landed, so it was very unnerving after we had just been through all of this,” she said, adding that the pilot didn’t address the situation on the PA system.

“I thought it was very interesting that the pilot never came on and said anything about what had happened,” she said. “There was nothing.”

Passengers recount fears after turbulent flight [USA Today]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.