A Lufthansa flight traveling from Texas to Germany was diverted to Virginia’s Washington Dulles International Airport on Wednesday night due to turbulence that left some passengers injured, an airport spokesman said.
Lufthansa Flight 469, which took off from Austin, experienced “significant turbulence” and landed safely at Dulles, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokesman Michael Cabbage said.
Seven people were taken to hospital, Cabbage said.
Brief but severe turbulence occurred approximately 90 minutes after takeoff and resulted in minor injuries to some passengers, a Lufthansa spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
“This was so-called clear air turbulence, which can occur without visible weather phenomena or advance warning,” the statement said.
“The affected passengers were given first aid on board by the flight attendants who were trained for such cases. As the safety and well-being of passengers and crew members is the top priority at all times, the flight crew decided to make an alternate landing at (Dulles Airport) after flying through the turbulence.”
The crew of the Airbus A330 reported encountering the turbulence at an altitude of 37,000 feet over Tennessee, the Federal Aviation Administration told CNN.
The plane landed at Dulles Airport around 9:10 p.m., FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.
The FAA will investigate the incident, Gregor said.
Susan Zimmerman was among the passengers on board Flight 469 when it encountered severe turbulence on Wednesday.
Zimmerman, who is from Austin and is five months pregnant, told CNN that she had just finished eating and was about to go to the bathroom when the turbulence hit.
“During dinner there was a sudden wind shear, the plane increased in altitude, then we dropped 1,000 feet,” she said.
“It was like unexpectedly free-falling for five seconds from the top of a roller coaster, plates and glasses were up to the ceiling, and my bag from the floor flew behind me to the right.”
She noticed that on two occasions the plane felt like it was suddenly falling and she could hear people screaming and glass breaking.
“I’m glad for the most part that we’re all doing well. This was quite shocking, Zimmerman said. “It was a moment of ‘oh my god, I’m going to meet my daughter.’
As soon as the plane landed, she said items from the dinner service had been littered all over the cabin as if there had been a food fight on board.
Zimmerman was not hurt, she said, but saw that others had been hurt. After the plane landed, first responders boarded the plane and attended to the injured, she said.
Zimmerman was offered medical treatment and an evaluation, but said she was fine, adding that her unborn child must have fallen asleep during the ordeal because she began kicking and being active again 20 minutes later.
The airline offered Zimmerman a hotel voucher, and she has been rebooked on a new flight departing Thursday, she said.