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United Flight Skids Off Runway At O'Hare

Updated 12/30/15 - 4:21 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A United Airlines flight from Seattle skidded off a runway at O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday.

Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Aviation Department and FAA officials confirmed United Flight 1977 from Seattle slid off the end of Runway 27R into an overrun area after missing a turn to begin taxiing to the terminal. The airline said the plane never left the pavement, and stopped within an overrun area.

Here is the position of the plane's reported position, in an image provided by the website, (Click on images to enlarge.)

Flight Radar UA1977
Flight Radar UA1977

No injuries were reported. Snow was falling at the time of the accident, and passengers said it felt similar to a car sliding on an icy road when the plane skidded off the runway.

The Fire Department said there was no damage to the plane, a Boeing 737-900.

Some passengers said they didn't even notice anything was wrong until the pilot told them the plane had slipped off the end of the runway.

"We really didn't know anything until the thrusters went in reverse, and then all the snow was blowing all over. It was really a very smooth landing," Ken Sajeske said.


James Miller said it felt like "hitting a speed bump too fast" when they reached the end of the runway.

Sean Phillips, a Navy petty officer returning home on leave, said it was more frustrating than scary.

"You could feel it, but it wasn't that bad," he said. "I thought it was kind of cool."

Phillips said the flight was already delayed more than two hours before arriving at O'Hare, and some passengers were worried about missing connecting flights.

Passengers said they had to wait about an hour for a tow truck to pull the plane out of the overrun area, after crews deiced the pavement, so the aircraft could taxi to the gate.

"They did what they were supposed to do. They did a good job," Phillips said.

Sajeske said it was obvious there was little traction on the runways, as a 4x4 truck that responded to the incident was spinning out on the pavement as it pulled up next to the plane.

"I guess no traction out there whatsoever, not even an ounce," he said.

United said the plane arrived at a gate at 9:30 a.m., and employees were helping accommodate passengers who had to catch connecting flights.

Wednesday morning's snowfall also prompted airlines to cancel nearly 100 flights at O'Hare. Midway International Airport also had a handful of cancellations, and both airports saw delays of about 15-20 minutes in the morning, due to the weather.

Susan Hernandez has been traveling for two days from Mexico. Her bags arrived before she did. She finally found them among the piles of unclaimed bags.

"It's been hectic but you have to understand there's thousands and thousands of people traveling so it's just a happy ending," Hernandez said. "I'm really happy I'm here. I've got my bags and I'm home."

That's a far cry from Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, a mix of freezing rain and sleet led to more than 1,600 canceled flights in Chicago. Another 300 flights were canceled Tuesday, due to de-icing issues in the wake of Monday's winter storm.

Up to 1.5 inches of snow fell on the North Side on Wednesday, and nearly 2 inches fell at Midway. The rest of the day is expected to be dry, but cold.

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