A United Airlines flight was forced to do an emergency landing after its windshield was cracked by hail, according to a passenger and the airline.
Flight UA349 bound for Dulles, left Chicago just before 2pm local time on Monday and made a loop over Lake Michigan before abruptly returning to O’Hare International Airport, according to data from tracking site Flight Radar 24.
Alex Lang, a passenger on the flight, tweeted a photo of the front windshield of the airliner, an Airbus A320, showing it cracked on its left side.
@united My UA349 flight literally just had to emergency land because we flew through a hailstorm for some reason and it cracked the entire windshield… #united #news #emergencyland pic.twitter.com/888ITktU7q
— Alex Lang (@ArexRang) October 12, 2020
United confirmed that the flight turned back “due to severe weather.”
The plane landed safely, and passengers were able to start their journey over again on a new plane, the airline said in a statement.
United declined to answer questions about the weather or why the pilot might have flown into a storm.
Lang told Chicago radio station WBBM that the trouble started shortly after takeoff, describing the plane being subject to a four-minute barrage of hail.
“It was loud,” he said. “It was just big pieces of hail hitting sheet metal pretty much.”
Casey Sullivan, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Chicago office, said there were storms across the Lake Michigan region Monday afternoon. The forecasting agency received two reports of one-inch pieces of hail in the region, Sullivan said.