His sock, shoe and iPhone were sucked out of Alaska Flight 1282. The phone still works

Two people in orange vests stand inside an airline cabin near a gaping hole.
Members of the NTSB examine the hole left when a door plug burst from the side of one of Alaska’s Boeing 737 Max 9 jets on Friday night.
(NTSB / Getty Images)

Cuong Tran did not take any photos or videos of the hole that opened up in the side of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.

He couldn’t. His iPhone was sucked out of the opening and into what he thought must be oblivion — along with one of his Nike shoes and a sock.

Tran was sitting in Seat 27A of the Alaska flight when a door plug burst off the side of the aircraft on Friday night, causing what National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy later referred to as “explosive decompression.”


But miraculously, on Wednesday, Tran got his iPhone 14 back, sent to him by Alaska Airlines, and the phone was still working.

An unblemished cellphone screen shows the time as 10:13.
Cuong Tran’s phone, which plummeted three miles, was still working when it was recovered.
(Cuong Tran)
The backside of an iPhone.
(Cuong Tran)

“I think it might be because it landed in soft dirt or something,” he said. “It’s working. It’s 100% fine.”

Tran’s ordeal came during the brief Alaska Airlines flight after it lifted off from the airport in Portland, Ore., headed for Ontario. It made an emergency landing after the piece of fuselage “departed the airplane,” as transportation officials said.

The plane turned around and landed back in Portland where it had taken off. There were no major injuries.

“I was just dozing off, my phone in hand, and then the captain messaged we were above 10,000 feet. Next thing I know, I hear this whoosh sound — really strong-sounding wind,” Tran told The Times. “My shoe and sock got sucked out of the airplane, along with my phone.”

But Tran was not worried about himself. His main concern was whether someone was sitting in the seat in front of him, in 26A, where the hole opened. He was happy to hear from the person sitting in the aisle seat in Row 26 that the window seat had been empty.

In the wake of the blowout, headrests in two seats adjacent to the opening were torn away.

Tran said that time slowed down after the incident blasted him awake and what might have been seconds felt like minutes.


Transportation officials say the midair blowout on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 could have been calamitous if it had happened a little later in the flight.

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“I was just in disbelief, to be honest. I was like what’s going on here, why does everything feel so weird? Next thing I know I’m like oh, s— there’s a big hole. I was just registering everything in slow motion.”

He saw the shirt of a teenage passenger fly out the opening and feared that it was a human body.

“I saw half his body was out of the plane, then I saw his shirt get sucked out,” he said.

Answers to your questions about how the in-flight blowout of a plug on an Alaska Airlines plane could affect flights in the near future.

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Tran had his feet under the seat in front of him at the time of the incident and suffered contusions and sprains to his ankle.

Despite the trauma, Tran hopped another flight later that same day and made it safely back home to California.

No hole in that flight, he said.