- A viral TikTok shows what appears to be a broken window on a Southwest flight.
- The debris was actually a plastic barrier, which one aircraft expert said was “non-structural”.
- The passenger said the airline gave her a $300 ticket voucher.
A passenger on a Southwest flight posted a TikTok Soon it appeared to be a broken window, but she later explained that it was just the plastic layer that broke.
The passenger, who was traveling from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, said she instantly broke the plastic layer by leaning her arm against the window next to her seat.
“As long as I put any kind of slight pressure on my elbow, once that happens, the whole window shatters, it shatters, the whole thing,” she said TikTok explained the situation.
In the second half of the video, she said a flight attendant checked with the pilot and assured her that there was no problem with cabin pressure and that they could safely complete the flight to Las Vegas.
Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
University of Michigan professor and aircraft design expert Joaquim Martins told Insider that while he hadn’t seen the plastic barrier on planes break before, it didn’t pose any safety threat.
The plastic parts of the windows are not affected by cabin pressure, Martins said. Instead, the glazing outside absorbs all the power.
Martins said it was “completely normal” for non-structural items to be broken on a plane, and the virality of the video may have come from what appeared to be a broken window.
Martins clarified that if it was a real glass panel, “things would get sucked out and she would have to put on an oxygen mask.”
In 2018, a Southwest passenger killed She was partially sucked out of a window after the plane’s left engine exploded in mid-air.
In a TikTok explaining the incident, the passenger said that Southwest had grounded the plane for maintenance — which Martin said was standard practice in the event of any malfunction on a plane.
“There are several items that are completely safe in flight, but they need to be fixed before flying,” Martin said.
The passenger said she received a $300 ticket voucher from Southwest Airlines after the incident.