• NBC-2
  • Naples Daily News
  • Posted September 14, 2010 at 3:24 p.m., updated September 14, 2010 at 5:18 p.m.
  • — A Southwest Airlines flight initially traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Austin, TX was diverted to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers when a cabin pressure problem led to 10 passengers seeking medical treatment on Tuesday afternoon, airport officials reported.

    “Upon climbing, a pressurization indication alert came on in the cockpit,” said Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Ashley Dillon.

    “It wasn’t a severe enough drop in pressure to cause the oxygen masks to come down,” Dillon said.

    However, due to the drop in cabin pressure, the pilot chose to divert the plane, she said.

    Southwest Airlines flight 778 landed safely at Southwest Regional Airport at 2:24 p.m., said airport spokeswoman Vicki Moreland.

    Initially, all passengers reported to airline attendants that they were OK, said Dillon. However, upon landing, Lee County Emergency Medical Services was called to check everyone as a precaution.

    Several passengers reported having earaches, Dillon said.

    There were 10 people who had some medical issues and three of them were taken to a nearby hospital, Moreland said.

    The airline did not have an update on those passengers’ conditions or why they were transported, Dillon said. Earaches, however, were likely the cause for seeking treatment, she said.

    It was not immediately known what led to the pressure problem, but the plane is being checked by maintenance personnel, said Dillon, who was also not immediately aware of the age of the Boeing 737 jet.

    “It’s not a common occurrence, but it’s not something that’s unheard of,” Dillon said of the pressure drop.

    The airline is to make accommodations for all 87 passengers who were flying on the plane, Dillon said. Another plane is being sent to Fort Myers, she reported about 5 p.m.

    Travelers will likely make their way to their intended destination tonight, but be several hours late, she said. No new flight number was immediately available.