This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A rough storm turned a bumpy Southwest flight into a dangerous situation on Saturday afternoon.

Southwest Flight 3461 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) to New Orleans (MSY) was forced to make an emergency landing in Panama City, Florida (ECP) after attempting to land at MSY in severe weather.

Meteorologists had been predicting severe weather on Saturday in New Orleans for days, but the Southwest pilot told passengers on the plane’s PA system that he thought they could beat the storm and land before it was an issue, Lauren Bale, a passenger on the flight, told TPG. But as the Boeing 737-700 — registration N968WN — approached the New Orleans airport, severe weather rocked the plane.

“I wouldn’t even describe it as turbulence,” Bale said. “The plane was going everywhere. Up and down, going on the sides. People were screaming, people were crying, people were throwing up.”

Bale said the flight attendants “seemed pretty stressed out” and were yelling instructions to the passengers over the PA system. “They were saying ‘fasten your seatbelts as tightly as possible; if you don’t then you’re putting other passengers at risk,'” Bale recalled. “They were telling parents with babies to hold on to them as tightly as they could. I’ve never heard anything like that before.”

In fact, the experience was so frightening Bale wanted to tell her family goodbye. “I bought the Southwest Wi-Fi so I could text my parents because I thought we were going to crash,” she said.


Bale said that after a while, the plane began circling over a swampy area, and the pilot came on the loudspeaker and said it was too dangerous to try to land again in New Orleans, and they would be diverting to Panama City (ECP) to refuel.

The plane landed safely at ECP, and passengers were let off the aircraft while ground crew refueled it. Eventually, the aircraft took off for New Orleans (MSY) and landed safely.

Southwest emailed passengers an apology and a $250 voucher for their trouble. “I apologize for any discomfort you experienced earlier today when Flight #3461 encountered turbulence during the initial approach into New Orleans (MSY),” the email from Southwest’s Proactive Customer Communications Representative Gary Reyes said. “Please know there is nothing we value more than the Safety and Security of our Passengers, and our Pilots are trained to navigate through a variety of weather related conditions.”

Bale said she is still a bit shaken up. “I fly a lot, and this was the scariest thing I’ve experienced,” she said.

Featured image by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.