Spirit flight bound for Fort Lauderdale diverted after several passengers fall ill

Passengers arrive in South Florida early Friday after emergency landing in S.C.

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Madeleine Wright - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Spirit Airlines flight bound for Fort Lauderdale had to make an emergency stop in South Carolina late Thursday after several passengers became ill.

Flight 779 departed from LaGuardia Airport in New York and was traveling to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when it was diverted to Myrtle Beach International Airport about 10 p.m.

Everyone onboard the Airbus A321 had to get off the plane and wait on the tarmac before eventually getting on another plane.

According to the ABC affiliate in Myrtle Beach, seven to 10 people who felt ill were taken to an area hospital. They have since been treated, decontaminated and released.

Passengers on the flight told Local 10 News they smelled a strange, burning odor.

"You know when you burn a wire, like plastic? That kind of smell," passenger Steven Costello said. 

Firefighters searched the original plane but found no hazardous materials.

"We got scared. We didn't know what was going to happen," Costello said. 

Another passenger, Maverick Hain, told Local 10 that his head was hurting because of the smell and his brother complained of stomach pain.  

"We apologize for the inconvenience this diversion has caused," Spirit Airlines spokesman Derek Dombrowski said in a statement. "At Spirit Airlines, the safety of our guests and crew is paramount."

Passengers who arrived in Fort Lauderdale early Friday said Spirit has offered them a full refund.

Dombrowski said the passengers were also given future travel credits. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident. 

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