The Boeing 757 took off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 11:20 p.m. Atlanta time Monday. Some passengers reported seeing a flash outside the plane shortly after takeoff, and the flight crew announced that the plane was returning to the airport.
The plane, Flight 1323, landed safely back in Atlanta. There were 174 passengers aboard. Officials in Atlanta said three passengers suffered minor injuries, possibly from sliding down an emergency slide.
Passengers were eventually placed on another aircraft, which landed at Los Angeles International Airport around 6 a.m.
"I was literally sitting at the seat where the engine was, and there was just smoke coming out of the engine," passenger Tiffany Allen of La Mirada told ABC7. "So I don't know if it -- a bird or whatever happened. I just know it was just smoke coming from the engine."
Passenger Mo Ogunrinola told the station she "heard the loud bang."
"And when I turned to see, I saw a flashing light, and I thought it was fire," she said.