Odor diverts Spirit Airlines flight from New York to South Carolina

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — There was such a strong odor aboard a Spirit Airlines flight from New York to Florida that the plane had to be diverted to South Carolina.

Everyone eventually made it safely to Fort Lauderdale, but passengers said it was a long night.

Darren Sewdass and his 7-year-old son Devin were among the 220 passengers on Spirit Airlines Flight 779 Thursday night.

About an hour into the flight, which left LaGuardia at about 8:30 p.m., those on board started smelling a strong odor.

Some passengers compared the odor to that of dirty socks, Sewdass said it smells more chemical, like exhaust from a diesel truck.

Sewdass said the flight attendants stopped their beverage service before it was done and told passengers to get back to their seats and buckle up.

The plane landed in South Carolina at about 10 p.m.

That's when Sewdass said he saw "how severe it was."

"The tarmac was filled with fire engines and ambulances," he said.

Myrtle Beach Fire Department Lt. Jonathan Evans told news outlets between seven and 10 people complained of medical problems and one person was taken to a hospital.

Fire officials searched the plane but found no hazardous materials.

Spirit said a replacement aircraft with the passengers left Myrtle Beach around 3:30 a.m. Friday and arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 4:45 a.m.

Sewdass said his son was so disturbed by the ordeal, he didn't want to get back on a plane and instead rent a car and drive the rest of the way.

He said the passengers received a full refund plus vouchers for future flights. They were also given free Dominos pizza during their five-hour wait at the airport.

The source of the odor is under investigation.