Passengers Live Stream Crashing Plane

John Lister's picture

A Southwest Airlines flight earlier this week had to perform an emergency landing due to an engine fire at approximately 32,500 feet. Passengers aboard the plane raced to sign up to in-flight WiFi so they could broadcast what they feared were their final minutes.

The Southwest Airlines flight 1380 from La Guardian to Dallas made an emergency landing after an explosion in one engine caused shrapnel to puncture a window, causing rapid decompression. One woman died as a result of the incident.

Several passengers used on-board wireless Internet to share photos while the plane was in the air, with some even sharing video through the Facebook Live service.

$8 Sign-Up Fee to Use WiFi

One passenger, Marty Martinez, told CNN that he paid the $8 WiFi fee specifically to broadcast the video because he believed he was facing his "final moments on Earth." He captioned one video "Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!!"

One of Martinez's videos clearly showed him in his seat wearing an oxygen mask. Another video was almost unwatchable thanks to heavy pixilation likely caused by a weak mobile data signal.

Other passengers noted several people tried to do the same, though some found it difficult to complete the sign-up process and type in their credit card details amid the understandable scene of panic and chaos. (Source:

Photo Sparks Safety Warning

Some passengers waited until the plane was on the ground before sharing photographs of the plane including the wrecked engine and the missing window.

A former flight attendant who saw pictures of the passengers wearing their oxygen masks used it as an opportunity for a high-profile safety warning. Bobby Laurie shared one of the pictures and said that "PEOPLE: Listen to your flight attendants! EVERYONE in this photo... today is wearing their mask WRONG. Put down the phone, stop with the selfies... and LISTEN." (Source:

Laurie pointed out that many of the passengers had only placed the mask over their mouths. To be fully effective, the mask needs to be placed so it covers both the mouth and the nose.

Pilots "Just Doing Our Jobs"

Captain Tammie Jo Shults and First Officer Darren Ellisor released the following statement on social media:

"We all feel we were simply doing our jobs ... Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family's profound loss."

The pilots declined any additional media interviews.

Additional YouTube Footage of Crippled Plane

You can watch and hear the captain of the plane as the story unfolded, as well as a news report covering the story.

What's Your Opinion?

Can you imagine buying in-flight WiFi to broadcast from a crashing plane? Is it fair to criticize such behavior or is it impossible to know how you would react? Do you think the photograph and Laurie's warning will help future passengers remember how to use the oxygen masks?

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Average: 5 (6 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

I listened to the live audio footage as the story unfolded and I have to say the captain was incredibly calm. Kudos to her for landing the plane calmly and safely!

ws_computers_5115's picture

I am getting tired of seeing in events where it matters most, all that is cared about is getting the situation on social media and not doing the things that matter, which is help each other or the person involved.

PseudoGeek's picture

The headline "Passengers Live Stream Crashing Plane" is untrue and sensationalist. The plane at no time was in any danger of "crashing." Yes, there was damage and a fatality but the crew was making an emergency descent, which means that the nose is pitched down lower than usual while they quickly get to an altitude where the passengers and crew can breathe without oxygen masks (typically 10,000' above sea level if terrain is not a factor). Then they made a single-engine landing. Single-engine approaches and landings in poor weather are practiced in simulators every 6-12 months by every airline pilot.

Passengers always assume that when an airplane is descending steeply in an emergency descent, that the steep descent will continue until ground impact. Do they think the pilots have lost their minds or what? I wish there was some way to educate people about this, in order to reduce the panic that always ensues when an emergency descent becomes necessary for any reason.

SteveMann's picture

Pseudogeek beat me to it.

I have been a commercial pilot since the 1980's and while I never had an in-flight emergency, we always train for it. (We used to joke that anyone could fly an airplane- it's the emergencies we train for). The pilots just did was what they trained for. The oxygen generators in the passenger cabin only supply about ten minutes of emergency oxygen so the pilot have to get down to 10,000 ft ASAP, (Terrain permitting) where you can breathe without supplemental oxygen. That is why the rapid descent- it is an automatic, trained response to an uncontrolled decompression. The pilots, by the way, have 'quick-don masks' which allow them to put the mask on in five seconds. At typical cruise altitudes you only have 30-seconds before you would lose consciousnesses.

The aircraft was never in danger of crashing.