SFO-bound Virgin flight slams on the brakes

July 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Passengers aboard Virgin America Flight 905 say they had quite a scare on a flight to San Francisco. The plane had just started its takeoff at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas heading to SFO when the pilot suddenly hit the brakes. The passengers were taken off that flight and put on a backup plane that landed at SFO just before 7 p.m. Monday.

One passenger said it felt like being in a car that's going full speed and then all of a sudden having the driver slam on the brakes.

The flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco usually takes about 65 minutes, gate to gate, but this one was delayed by more than seven hours. A mechanical issue forced the pilot to abort takeoff as the plane was speeding down the runway.

"The swerve and then the slamming on the brakes is when you knew it was not a normal thing," said Virgin American passenger Piper Hook.

"We weren't ever in the air. So if that had been something that happened in the air, I think it would've been even more scary," said passenger Brenna Kuan. "It was just like if you're going really, really fast in a car and you slam the brakes on."

According to a FAA spokesman, the pilot chose to abort takeoff after receiving a warning from an indicator light. Officials tell ABC7 News that they're still investigating the specific issue, but ultimately, it is the pilot who determined that the situation required a maintenance inspection and chose to return to the gate.

"I have a really bad fear of flying, so it was really traumatic for me," said Kuan.

However, Kuan's flight companion, who says she travels regularly for work, was rather philosophical about the whole thing.

"It's better that they happen on takeoff before you get up in the air, than any time in the air," said Hook.

No passengers were hurt and Virgin did rebook the passengers on a later flight on a different plane. Virgin has offered a flight voucher to everyone on the flight for future travel.


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