Passengers on American Airlines Flight 2293 looked on in shock Monday as their Boeing 757 seemingly started to come apart mid-flight, with the cabin's wall panels tearing open.
"All of a sudden you hear this 'pop pop pop pop' and a ripping sound," recalled one passenger from the Dallas-bound flight from San Francisco. "It sounded like we were going to lose the front part of the plane."
CBS News transportation correspondent Jeff Pegues says the plane took off at about 1 p.m., but shortly after takeoff, witnesses described the body of the aircraft shaking violently as interior panels on both sides of the plane blew off.
"It was terrifying we didn't know what was going on," said another passenger. "We were all shouting come look at the... the walls are caving in."
One passenger said nearly 45 minutes went by before the pilot decided to turn around and head back to San Francisco.
The plane landed safely and none of the 190 people on board were injured. American Airlines said in a statement that the emergency had been caused by a blown air duct, adding that "there was no loss of pressure in the cabin and no oxygen masks were deployed."
But it was a frightening experience for those on board.
"I was scared," said one woman from the flight. "I wasn't really sure we were going to make it."
The Federal Aviation Administration told CBS News they'll be working with the airline to determine what exactly went wrong before the Boeing 757 gets put back into service.
As for the passengers, Pegues says they were to leave again for Dallas on Tuesday morning.