A Lufthansa flight traveling from Texas to Germany was diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Wednesday night due to turbulence that injured passengers, an airport spokesman said.
Lufthansa Flight 469, which took off from Austin, experienced “significant turbulence” and landed safely in Dulles, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokesman Michael Cabbage said.
Seven people were transported to hospitals, Cabbage said.
Brief but severe turbulence occurred about 90 minutes after takeoff and caused minor injuries to some passengers, according to a statement given to CNN by a Lufthansa spokesperson.
“This was a so-called clear air turbulence, which can occur without visible weather phenomena or prior warning,” the statement said.
“Affected passengers received first aid on board by flight attendants trained for such cases. As the safety and well-being of passengers and crew is the top priority at all times, the flight deck crew decided to make an alternate landing at (Dulles Airport) after flying over the turbulence.
The Airbus A330 crew reported encountering turbulence at an altitude of 37,000 feet over Tennessee, the Federal Aviation Administration told CNN.
The flight 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 aboard Flight 469 when it encountered severe turbulence on Wednesday.
Zimmerman, who is from Austin and five months pregnant, told CNN she had just finished eating and was about to use the bathroom when the turbulence hit.
“During the dinner service, there was suddenly a wind shear, the plane gained altitude, and then we fell 1,000 feet,” she said.
“It was like an unexpected free fall for five seconds from the top of a roller coaster, plates and glassware were on the ceiling and my purse from the floor flew behind me to the right.”
She noted that on two occasions the plane felt like it was suddenly falling and she could hear people screaming and glass breaking.
“I’m glad that most of the time we were all fine. It was quite shocking,” Zimmerman said. “There was a moment of ‘oh my God, am I going to meet my daughter.'”
After the plane was settled, she said items from dinner service were strewn about the cabin, as if there had been a food fight on board.
Zimmerman was not injured, she said, but saw that others had been injured. After the plane landed, first responders boarded and treated 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 as she started kicking and beating again. activates again 20 minutes later.
The airline offered Zimmerman a hotel voucher and she was re-booked on a new flight departing Thursday, she said.