Passengers shaken as Southwest Airlines flight makes emergency landing at Oakland airport

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- It was a rough ride and a big scare for nearly 140 people on board a Southwest flight out of Oakland.

The plane had to make an emergency landing because of a landing gear problem.

The plane circled over the Central Valley for nearly four hours before it finally landed safely. The four hour ordeal left some passengers deeply shaken.

Most of the passengers were booked onto other flights after they returned to Oakland and continued their trip to Chicago, but others decided to leave the flying for another day.

It was not quite the holiday memories San Francisco's Ashley Stasio was hoping for when she boarded a flight for Chicago early Wednesday morning.

"I thought I was going to die. People were really scared," Stasio said.

It was clear, something was wrong almost as soon as they left the ground in Oakland.

"The beginning was the most scary part because the plane was thumping and thumping and it was going very slow because they were trying to get the landing gear up and it wouldn't go up," Stasio said.

And so began the hours-long odyssey as flight 2547 went around in circles over the Central Valley burning fuel -- a good long time for the passengers to contemplate what could happen next.

"When the pilots kept coming out of the cockpit, I think that's was what was really alarming. I heard, 'oxygen masks.' I heard, 'We're going to have to fly low,'" Stasio said.

With the fuel tanks empty, the plane returned to Oakland and first made a pass by the control tower so air traffic controllers could get a look at the plane's landing gear.

"We didn't know if our landing gear was actually going to work, so at that point, that was really the tense part of actually flying low, making sure the gear was actually out and visible to everybody," Stephanie Sult said.

The second time it circled around it was time to land.

Stasio and Sult were among those who decided they had enough flying for the day. They'll board another plane to Chicago Thursday.

In an email to ABC7 News, Southwest says: "The Captain in Command of Flight 2547 from Oakland to Chicago returned to Oakland due to a reported maintenance item on the aircraft. The flight landed safely and our Oakland employees are working to get our 139 customers to their destinations. The aircraft will be taken out of service and inspected. With everything we do, Safety is of paramount importance and we appreciate our Customers' patience while we work to get them to their destinations for the holidays."

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