Great Falls residents react to Alaska Airlines incident

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jan 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-08 11:38:45-05

GREAT FALLS — Alaska Airlines regularly flies out of Great Falls International Airport. On Friday night, the airline had an incident with a plane that departed Portland, Oregon, that could have been a lot worse than it was.

Shortly after takeoff about three miles above Oregon, a portion of the plane wall blew off, creating a gaping hole that sucked clothing off a child and forced the pilots to make an emergency landing as its 174 passengers and six crew members donned oxygen masks.

No one was seriously hurt as the depressurized plane returned safely to Portland International Airport about 20 minutes after it had departed.

At Great Falls International Airport, travelers we talked with still have trust in Alaska Airlines.

“Yeah, I feel pretty safe,” said Michael Dube, who was flying on Alaska Airlines to Seattle, “They grounded those particular planes.”

Alaska Airlines announced that they grounded all 65 of their Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft and are diligently inspecting them before returning them to the skies.

“Well, I think it’s more of a Boeing issue than an Alaska issue,” Dube said, “It’s a particular plane model, so I think anyone on any airline in that particular model might have some apprehension, but I would guess they’re gonna take them out of flight.”

This is not the first issue Boeing has had with their 737 Max aircraft. They had two crashes in 2019, and a “non-standard manufacturing process” was noted in April of 2023.

In Great falls, passengers are still confident in the planes they board and the airlines they support. In a statement on the Alaska Airlines website, CEO Ben Minicucci said, “I am personally committed to doing everything we can to conduct this review in a timely and transparent way.”

As of 12:00PM P.T. on January sixth, 18 of the 65 planes have been considered safe to return to service. While no local Alaska Airline worker was able to give a comment, it is clear the airline is doing everything they can to assure customers that they are safe when traveling with them.