A flight heading from Canada to Mexico with 181 passengers and six crew members aboard made an emergency medical landing Sunday in western Montana after encountering extreme turbulence that slightly injured two flight attendants.
Sunwing Airlines spokeswoman Janine Chapman says the Boeing 737 landed around 7:30 a.m. Sunday at Helena Regional Airport, a small hub unaccustomed to dealing with international travelers. Flight 559's passengers waited in the aircraft for more than five hours before being told to stay in a cordoned-off area in the terminal as the company dispatched another plane to continue the journey. The passengers got on the second plane and took off for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, around 6:25 p.m. MDT, airport officials said.
Chapman said a medical team cleared a 27-year-old male flight attendant who received a cut on his head during the turbulence, but didn't need stitches. He was in an aisle serving passengers when the turbulence hit.
As a precaution, responders also checked on a 27-year-old female flight attendant, who was also serving passengers and fell to the floor, Chapman said. The medical team prescribed over-the-counter pain medication.
Chapman said the captain had the seat belt sign on, and no passengers were injured.
Cathy Burden of Edmonton, Alberta, was among the mostly families and couples traveling from Edmonton to the Mexican resort town for vacation. She said the turbulence was "pretty scary."
"The flight attendant was just bringing a tray of champagne, and she went up in the air and the champagne went everywhere," she told The Associated Press. "Nobody actually got a glass, but we all got champagne on us."
She said she saw the flight attendant fall to the ground, but didn't see anyone on board with serious injuries. She said everyone was "a bit rattled."