STOCKTON -- Just minutes after takeoff, passengers aboard Allegiant Air Flight 63 from Las Vegas to Stockton were panicking.
“I had my daughter with me so I wanted to remain calm for her. In my mind, it's like, ‘Please Lord, don’t take her today. It's her birthday. Don’t do this to us,’” said passenger Sonny Aguilera.
Aguilera was able to laugh retelling the story Monday but said that wasn't the case Saturday when he and his daughter were on their flight home after celebrating her birthday. He said they were only in the air five to 10 minutes when he started smelling smoke.
“I sat near the window in the rear and noticed kind of a funny odor,” he told FOX40. “So, I kind of smelled and smelled over again. And then I looked at my daughter and she also too had a weird look on her face like she smelled it too."
He said that’s when they looked up and saw smoke.
“The next thing you know we look up and it seems like there's smoke in the cabin, in the rear cabin, kind of like someone was smoking a cigarette,” Aguilera said. “So, at that point, people started yelling, ‘There's smoke, there's smoke!’”
Allegiant Air told FOX40 an emergency was declared and the pilot returned to the airport.
“Luckily we were still over Las Vegas when this happened,” Aguilera said. “It probably took about 10 minutes before we got back on the ground."
The plane landed safely at McCarran International Airport.
A few hours late, Aguilera, his daughter and the other passengers boarded a new plane home.
“I'm on a plane at least once a month. So, this is the first time anything like that has ever happened,” Aguilera told FOX40.
The experience left Aguilera questioning if he’ll ever book with Allegiant again.
“It was scary and definitely something that will make you think twice,” he said.
Allegiant Air said because of the inconvenience, they refunded each passenger airfare for that leg of the flight and gave each passenger a $100 voucher to be used for future travel.