American Airlines passengers were left fearing for their lives after flames shot out of a jet engine during a flight on the weekend.

Loud booms were reported about 30 minutes into the flight from Boston to Miami. Shortly afterwards the cabin filled with smoke and flames were spotted shooting out of the engine on the left wing of the Airbus A321, which was carrying 180 passengers.

E. Mauricio Castellanos, a professor at the University of Florida College of Dentistry who was travelling on the flight with his wife and five-year-old son, told the Boston Globe, "we were just waiting for the worst".

"I said goodbye to my wife, and was holding my son. We really thought we were going to die."


Passengers reported that a pilot had announced that a clogged filter had caused oil to leak onto the engine, resulting in flames.

Drew Nederpelt, a Miami business executive who was traveling with his girlfriend, said a flight attendant openly wept as the plane began to "shake and rattle" and passengers were told to adopt the brace position.

Diego Romero, who was travelling with his pregnant wife, aunt and 18-month-old daughter, said the staff member's distress made the situation even more frightening.

"She was a nervous wreck," he said. "So, as a passenger, you hear somebody who is supposed to be in charge being so worried and crying, my wife turned to me and said, 'I think it's worse than we think, and they don't want us to know.'"

Romero was not happy with the way American Airlines treated passengers following the incident and said they were offered sandwiches and drinks, but little emotional support.

The plane was taken out of service and passengers were faced with a six hour wait to continue their journey to Miami.

A spokesman for the airline told the Daily Mail the plane had suffered a "mechanical issue" but had landed safely in New York.

"We switched aircraft and re-departed JFK later that night and arrived in Miami early Monday morning," he said.

"We worked to re-accommodate as many customers as possible in New York to get them on to their final destination. We apologize to our customers for what turned into a very long night."