Passengers talked about "whether or not they were going to die" as a jet with a mechanical fault prepared for landing at Belfast International Airport.
Fire and rescue services had to be scrambled on Monday evening for the incoming Easyjet flight from London Stansted following a technical difficulty.
A woman aboard the plane said people she was sitting with were very upset and openly talking about if they were going to die.
She said people were crying as they finally disembarked from the plane at around 10pm.
The aircraft, with 108 passengers and six crew on board, had been starting its descent at 8.50pm when instead it started circling Belfast and Lough Neagh.
Passengers were told that the plane had suffered a nose-wheel steering failure.
One man told the Belfast Telegraph that the airport was "swarming with emergency services".
He had been sitting in the front row of the plane and said passengers were fairly calm.
The Airbus A319 managed to land safely at Belfast International Airport at around 9.10pm with no injuries reported.
But the passengers had to sit in the plane for an extra 45 minutes while issues were dealt with.
The plane was greeted by scores of emergency workers.
"The cabin itself was pretty calm throughout, there were maybe a few glances exchanged but no panic," the passenger said.
"The landing was fairly normal, maybe slightly bumpy, but when we got on the runway we were sitting there for around 45 minutes because of what they said was an issue with the steering on the front wheel and we would be getting towed.
"Then there was a second announcement that because there was hydraulic fluid leaking, they didn't want to contaminate the other runway."
Easyjet confirmed yesterday that there had been a "technical issue" with the plane.
Andrew McConnell, head of UK Corporate and Public Affairs for Easyjet, said it was a "minor incident".
He said: "The aircraft landed safely and was met by emergency services as a routine and precautionary measure only.
"Once at its stand all passengers disembarked normally.
"The safety of its passengers and crew is Easyjet's highest priority and Easyjet operates its fleet of aircraft in strict compliance with all manufacturers guidelines."
The A319 can seat up to 156 passengers.
There were 108 passengers and six crew members on board the EZY267 flight on Monday night.
Police described what happened on Monday as an "emergency incident" but said the matter was resolved.
A spokeswoman for Belfast International said emergency services were called as a precautionary measure and the flight landed without any problem.