The Florida airport shooting rampage that killed five people, and wounded eight others left a New Zealand traveller "paralysed with fear", Fairfax reported.
Caroline Gaisford, 35, of Auckland's Meadowbank, arrived at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport about 1pm and was checking in when she heard the first gunshot.
"We checked in at the kiosk and we were waiting in the queue to drop our bags off and we heard this really loud bang," she told Fairfax.
"And me being an innocent little Kiwi didn't register what it was. Then there was another, I think there were eight gunshots all up, and by the fifth one everyone was screaming and running."
She said it was a chaotic situation, with kids screaming and some people losing track of their children.
"It was pretty scary."
The alleged gunman, Esteban Santiago, was arrested later without incident.
Gaisford and her American friend hid for another two hours before instructions came over the loudspeakers saying "shelter in place, and stay calm".
She was to have boarded a flight to San Francisco that afternoon for an overnight stay before flying back to New Zealand.
But she said the airport had cancelled all flights.