A passenger on board the plane where part of the fuselage blew off while in the air has said the experience was “jarring” and “disorienting”.

An Alaska Airlines flight was forced to perform an emergency landing after a hole was ripped in the side of the Boeing 737-9 MAX jet on Saturday.

Nicholas Hoch said each minute felt like an hour after he heard a “big boom” or “mini explosion”.

“That was followed instantaneously by a rapid depressurisation of the cabin that consisted of moisture and fluid – almost like a cloud rushing from the front of the plane to the back,” he told Sky News.

Exterior photos suggest the rear mid-cabin exit door separated from the aircraft during the flight. Pic: KGW
Image:
Exterior photos suggest the rear mid-cabin exit door separated from the aircraft during the flight. Pic: KGW

“My head was on a swivel looking around the entire time trying to figure out what was happening – and what kind of danger we were in.”

Oxygen masks dropped down and flight attendants were quick onto the intercom system, he said, shouting to “get your masks on” and “get your seatbelts on”.

A “boy” who sat on the row where the hole was made had his shirt ripped off and sucked out of the plane.

But while the plane “fluttered” and lights “flickered”, the passengers heard no other communication and weren’t told about the impending emergency landing, he said.

Sitting ten rows ahead of the hole, Mr Hoch said the general atmosphere on board was “eerie”, and the passengers around him were “mostly calm”.

His hat was blown off his head, while the people in front had their hair “pushed back”.

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Flight suffers mid-air blowout

“When you’re in that situation there’s not really a lot you can do but hang on… there were a few people that were visibly and vocally upset,” he added.

“A few people stood up on the flight and were yelling some obscenities – shouting ‘there’s an effing hole’… people deal with these situations in different ways.”

The flight had been delayed by about 20 minutes, he said, and “things started to get hairy” five minutes after take-off.

“I think the whole thing lasted about 20-30 minutes, but it felt like four hours.”

Pic: Elizabeth Le/AP
Image:
Pic: Elizabeth Le/AP

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More than 170 Boeing planes worldwide have been temporarily grounded after the incident.

Read more:
170 planes grounded after mid-air incident on new craft stuns experts
What next for flights and 737 aircraft, according to experts

Mr Hoch said the pilot did a “good job” and addressed the flight once the plane had landed, but they were left “standing for hours” while waiting to hear their next move.

He said it felt like being a “fish out of water”, but he boarded another flight that same night – and he is set to catch a “long flight” later this week.

The airline has since been in touch to apologise, offer a refund and compensation, he said, but there is still no sign of his luggage, which remains missing.



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