CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Passengers aboard a San Diego-bound United Airlines flight from Washington's Dulles International Airport spent an unexpected four-hour layover at Charleston's Yeager Airport on Tuesday, after smoke was detected in their westbound Boeing 757.
Emergency crews were on hand, and the access road to the airport was temporarily closed to accommodate emergency vehicles, as the aircraft made a routine landing at about 9:15 a.m. None of the 178 passengers and crew members aboard the flight was injured in the incident.
"I slept through everything until I felt that we were landing," said Matthew Pendergraft, a former San Diego resident now living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as he waited for news about the continuation of his trip in Yeager's passenger terminal.
Pendergraft said the first clue he had that something was amiss took place when he opened his window shade shortly after the aircraft touched down. "I saw right away that we weren't at the San Diego airport," he said.
While initial reports cited smoke in the cockpit as the reason for United Flight 229 diverting to Charleston, passenger Glen Yelich of Rensselaerville, N.Y., said an intercom message from the flight deck told passengers that a restroom smoke detector had been activated.
When the source of the smoke could not immediately be found, a decision was made to divert to Yeager as a precaution.
"Some people said they could detect the odor of smoke, but I couldn't," said Yelich, who was headed to San Diego for a family vacation with his wife, Linda Sue, daughter, Stella, and son, Silas.