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Alaska Airlines offers passengers mere $1,500 for horror flight as potential lawsuits loom

Passengers onboard the Alaska Airlines flight that lost its door plug mid-flight were offered a paltry $1,500 for the terrifying ordeal — but an attorney believes they’re in a prime position to bring lawsuits against the airline for a larger payout.

The compensation package, which also included a ticket refund, was offered in an email to passengers on Alaska Airlines flight 1282 after Friday night’s fiasco, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Daniel Laurence, a partner at the Seattle based Stritmatter Firm who is representing Alaska Airlines passengers in a separate case, told The Post that those aboard flight 1282 could seek legal action for “emotional distress.”

“As a moral matter, $1,500 per passenger, for what could have been a death experience and might even be described… as a near death experience, is inadequate,” Laurence said.

“They clearly would have a claim for emotional distress that was inflicted upon them,” Laurence said, adding he would not be surprised if lawsuits began rolling in as early as tomorrow.

“I’ve actually heard from one of the passengers this morning who was interested in talking to me about the incident,” he added.

Passengers aboard flight 1282 from Portland, Oregon, were left staring into the abyss of the starry night sky and beyond on Friday after a door plug burst from the port side of the fuselage about 16,000 feet into the flight’s initial ascent.

In the mayhem that ensued, passengers’ belongings were sucked through the opening, oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling, and a young boy’s shirt was ripped from his body and flung into the night as flight attendants implored everybody to keep their seatbelts fastened.

The door plug was ripped from the side of the Boeing aircraft shortly after take off at about 16,000 feet on Friday. AP

The flight returned to Portland to make an emergency landing and all 171 passengers were deplaned with no serious injuries reported, but many have been left haunted by the fear they felt during the ordeal.

“We literally thought we were going to die,” passenger Sreysoar Un, who was seated one row behind the ragged hole, told the Wall Street Journal.

Another passenger, Emma Vu, posted a TikTok video sharing screenshots of texts she sent her parents during the flight, asking them to “Please pray for me. I don’t want to die.”

In return for their troubles, passengers reported that the airline offered them $1,500, a refund on their ticket, and help booking new travel.

It is unclear whether the money was intended to go towards a new flight, or if it was given in addition to complimentary new tickets.

Emma Vu sent her parents messages asking them to pray for her, saying she didn’t want to die.

“We’re working directly with guests to ensure they are taken care of and accommodated on an alternate flight,” Alaska Airlines told The Post.

Vu noted in her video that Alaska offered her a new flight with a complimentary upgrade for more legroom and free inflight snacks. She was not impressed.

“Alaska, would love some money, maybe some money for therapy. I don’t know, I just feel like a reimbursed flight with more legroom and free water and snacks is not enough,” she said.

Passengers like Vu may get her wish, Laurence said, but not until a thorough investigation is undertaken to determine the cause of the incident and which party is culpable — be it Alaska Airline, the jet manufacturer Boeing, or the company which provided the components for the 737 Max 9 jet, Spirit AeroSystems.

An investigation will need to determine who is responsible for the incident before damages could be awarded. NTSB/AFP via Getty Images
The door plug was discovered in the backyard of a Portland teacher. It will be crucial in the incident investigation. AP

Each passenger’s individual experience — including details like their proximity to the hole — will also likely factor into what kind of damages a jury would award them in an emotional distress suit, Laurence said, but he noted that simply being on the plane is more than enough to file a lawsuit.

“If you’re on the ground and you’re safe at that point, the thought goes through your head that you just might have died up there. And frankly, if it had happened at 30,000 feet, that plane might have disintegrated,” Laurence said.

“So it was a very serious situation. And anybody who was on that plane at the time, I think, was entirely justified in being terrified.”

Laurence is currently leading another lawsuit against Alaska Airlines on behalf of passengers who were onboard an October 22 flight where an off-duty pilot riding in the cockpit jump seat allegedly attempted to shut down the plane’s engines while high on magic mushrooms. That litigation is ongoing.

Many Boeing 737 Max 9s have been grounded across the country as airlines undertake inspections to ensure other flights don’t experience the same problems. United Airlines announced on Monday that they’ve found incidences of loose bolts on the door plugs on other planes.

Written by SaleemBaloch

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