An Allegiant Airlines flight from Iowa to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International airport had to make an emergency landing Monday, forcing passengers to take an overnight bus ride to their final destination.
Allegiant spokesperson Brian Davis said Flight 863 was diverted to the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport due to an indicator light that showed a possible fire in the cargo hold.
We're told more than 150 people were onboard, and everyone is OK. The passengers made it to the Bay area on buses around 10 a.m. Monday.
Danene Gable's son was on the flight, and she said it's putting their family vacation on hold.
"He seems fine. He works for the National Guard and is also a college student back in Iowa," Gable said outside the airport in St. Petersburg. "He always stays positive."
Gable said the passengers were kept on the tarmac for about two hours before boarding a bus.
The passengers were forced to jump down the emergency chutes of the plane. Allegiant Air Flight 863 was en route to St. Petersburg from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
According to a spokesperson, there was not actually a fire, and it's unclear why the indicator flight flipped on. Firefighters met the plane when it landed in Georgia, and all 155 passengers and six crew members evacuated the plane.
We're told they were bused here because the airport in Albany was not prepared for such a large flight, and it was too late to organize another plane. The passengers will be getting a full refund, plus more credit.
Gable said the family is just thankful their son and everyone else are OK.
From FOX 13's Kim Kuizon:
Amy Caughron and her son David Young will be talking about it for years.
"Oh it was an ordeal. It was my 7 year old's first airplane flight so he got quite an experience," she said.
They are among 150 passengers aboard the Allegiant flight from Cedar Rapids that made an emergency landing in Georgia Sunday night.
They finally arrived at the St. Petersburg Clearwater International Airport 15 hours later. Most on a bus, a few on a stretch limo.
"We're home finally. It has been, I don't know how long or how many hours," one woman said hanging out of a limo.
The passengers were exhausted and weary, but thankful to be home.
The ordeal started Sunday night when, according to the airline, a warning light came on, alerting pilots to a possible fire in the cargo area.
The pilots decided to land. The first place they found was a small airport in Albany, Georgia.
"The flight just seemed like it was going down pretty fast," said Caughron.
Caughron said the crew was quick, but cautious.
"They said we had 90 seconds to get down. Once we got down, they blew up the slides, they had slides stacked up," she said.
The FAA investigated and ruled out a fire aboard Flight 863.
Now, Allegiant will send their own crew from Orlando to figure out why the light came on.
Taking things in stride, Caughron said it could have been a whole lot worse and her son agrees.
"It was kind of crazy," he said.
Allegiant told FOX 13 News they are drafting out a letter to send to all passengers aboard Flight 863.
They said they will receive a full refund and an additional $200 to put toward another flight with the airline.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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