My Emergency Plane Landing Story & What Happened After

The Weekend Before

Since one of the best weekends of my life was ending, it only made sense that getting home would be as terrible as possible. The quote "perfectly balanced, as all thing should be," has been shared with me quite a bit, and it's certainly fitting. After spending three days in Vegas, I was walking away from a family weekend up $580 from Blackjack, having seen the Hoover Dam, and having had incredible tickets to Aerosmith that had us in the dead center of the stage. The weekend had gone better than I had hoped, and I had a great time hanging out with my family. Our plan was to spend Thursday night to Sunday morning in Las Vegas and be back home by Monday at 6 p.m., as I had class and a club meeting on Tuesday.

So Sunday morning we headed to the airport; we were sad to leave but more than satisfied with how the weekend had gone. All that was left was two short flights, one to Houston and one to Orlando, and we would be home in as little as six hours.

The Flight

The first thing I did on the first flight, (Spirit NK 1288), was what I always did on planes: go to sleep immediately on my mom's shoulder. Las Vegas to Houston was about a three-hour flight, and I woke up after what I felt had not been a long time. I could see out the window us lowering into the clouds, something planes did when they were nearing their destination. I turned to my mom and asked, "How long have I been asleep? It looks like we're descending."

"Uh, we shouldn't be." My mom glanced up from her book to look out the window and was surprised because she knew we had only been in the air for about an hour.

Within about thirty seconds, our ears began to pop and my dad who was seated with my brother leaned across the aisle and said, "Hey, why are we descending?"

Despite having seen every episode of Air Disasters, I've never had a fear of flying and have an unusual amount of trust in pilots. I honestly wasn't worried why we were dropping, maybe the turbulence was bad, maybe the weather was bad, maybe we just needed to reroute. Whatever the reason was, I wasn't very concerned.

In the next 90 seconds, the plane continued to descend rather sharply and quickly, enough for the rest of the plane to begin yawning and swallowing to pop their ears and looking around at each other. We dropped below the clouds and light suddenly filled the plane. Below, the desert was mainly empty, not like the large city of Houston we were supposed to be in.

The captain came on the speaker rather briskly and said, "This is your captain, we have just descended to below 10,000 feet. We've lost pressure in our cabin and will be making an emergency landing in Albuquerque in ten minutes."

Everyone kind of looked at each other but no one really said much. My mom looked at me and I shrugged, having not much to say. A few people laughed nervously, saying, "Oh, great," but no one appeared overly nervous.

We had dropped from 37,000 feet to under 10,000 feet impressively fast, but now that we were at an altitude that wouldn't require oxygen the immediate stress was done and we were able to land smoothly. The pilot later told us that he did not drop the oxygen masks as we were able to descend before they were needed, though I lowkey wish we could have used them since it would've made this story cooler and semi worth the layover hell we were about to experience.

The Aftermath

The aftermath of this trip was spending seven hours waiting for a new plane after spending two hours sitting on said plane until FedEx agreed to transfer our bags over since Spirit doesn't work at that airport, then getting to Houston at 11 p.m. and waiting for our 1:30 p.m. Tuesday flight to Orlando. I also learned how to spell Albuquerque.

Basically, we weren't allowed to transfer to another airline as Spirit flying us out over a day later was cheaper, and were given $150 voucher for the airline that expired in two months and a $7 food voucher that we couldn't use since we landed once the airport food court had closed. I was "Karen speaking to the manager" mad once I found out we wouldn't be home until Tuesday night since I knew we were less than two and a half hours away from home.

It's kind of an extreme bucket list item to be in a plane crash, just like it'd be cool to fight off a shark. It's terrible but makes for a great story. It would have been cool to have an Air Disaster level story, instead of the monstrous inconveniencing one that I have. If you are a nervous flyer, just know that emergency landings are very rare and will most likely leave you in the layover hell I was in, not in a hospital.

I am walking away from this experience okay and with a plane crash story AND an Aerosmith story so, all in all, it still wasn't too bad of a trip. I will tell you that nothing compares to finally seeing Orlando from our final plane's window, knowing that we're home.

Images: 1, all other images provided by the author.