American Airlines plane lands in El Paso with heavy damage caused by hail

PHOENIX - An American Airlines flight bound for Phoenix had to divert to El Paso after damage was sustained in flight.

American Airlines said on Sunday night, flight 1897 from San Antonio to Phoenix, diverted to El Paso after damage sustained by hail.

An ABC15 viewer, who did not want to be identified, was on the plane and shared photos of the windshield and nose with significant damage. 

She said the plane ride was horrifying and several people had anxiety/panic issues aboard the plane. 

"I keep looking back at the photos and getting chills," said the passenger. "We had no idea how bad it was until after we landed." 

She says the flight was going off without a hitch, but half-an-hour into it, things took a turn for the worse. 

"This is getting scary," she said. "The turbulence is getting more and all of a sudden, it got really bad."

She described a scene of cell phones flying in the air, drinks splashing on the ceiling, and people sharing airsick bags. 

"I could see people starting to panic and crying and I couldn't breathe," she said.

But overall, she commends the pilots and crew for getting everyone to the ground safely. 

American Airlines released the following statement: “We commend the great work of our pilots, along with our flight attendants, who safely landed the Airbus A319 at 8:03 p.m. MDT.”

Flight 1897 was assigned to a different aircraft and landed in Phoenix just before midnight on Sunday. 

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