Home Travel News

Alaska Airlines offers flyers $2.2K for plane blowout; lawsuits coming?

Alaska Airlines has vowed to give every passenger who endured a mid-air emergency on board one of its recent flights a ticket refund and US$1,500 (around AU$2,200) to help with any inconveniences, according to an email sent to flyers. 

Alaska Airlines has vowed to give every passenger who endured a mid-air emergency on board one of its recent flights a ticket refund and US$1,500 (around AU$2,200) to help with any inconveniences, according to an email sent to flyers. 

As checked by The Wall Street Journal, the email stated, “We recognize how extremely distressing this incident must have been and we are grateful to you and our crew for everyone’s calm and patience throughout this experience”. 

“We will fully investigate this incident and work with the relevant authorities to understand what happened,” it added.

Last Friday (local time), an Alaska Airlines B737 MAX 9 carrying 171 passengers and six crew experienced a blowout of a left-sided cabin panel in an ascent from Portland (Oregon). 

Bound for Ontario (California), the Boeing jet returned to Portland and landed safely. According to the carrier, several passengers on board the flight sustained injuries that required medical attention, but all were later cleared.

Legal action anticipated

A partner at the Seattle-based Stritmatter Firm, who is representing Alaska Airlines passengers in a separate case, says travellers aboard flight AS1282 could still seek legal action for “emotional distress”.

“As a moral matter, $1,500 per passenger, for what could have been a death experience and might even be described… as a near death experience, is inadequate,” Daniel Laurence told The New York Post.

“They clearly would have a claim for emotional distress that was inflicted upon them. I’ve actually heard from one of the passengers this morning who was interested in talking to me about the incident.”

Laurence said that he would not be surprised if passengers began filing lawsuits as early as tomorrow.

ATIA plane passengers

In the wake of the Alaska Airlines incident, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered the temporary suspension of Boeing 737 MAX 9 configured in the same way as the impacted Alaska jet. 

The move has caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights around the world, and impacted the plans of thousands of travellers. 

After grounding its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes, the US’s only other MAX 9 carrier, United Airlines, found loose bolts on multiple MAX 9 aircraft.

Boeing error

An Alaska Airlines MAX 9
An Alaska Airlines MAX 9

Boeing CEO David Calhoun admitted the plane maker had made a “mistake” in a company-wide “safety meeting” following the incident with Alaska Airlines.

“We’re going to approach this number one acknowledging our mistake,” Calhoun told staff in a Boeing video.

“We’re going to approach it with 100% and complete transparency every step of the way. We are going to work with the NTSB who is investigating the accident itself to find out what the cause is.”