The flight had 275 passengers and 16 crew members on board made the safe landing at 12:15 p.m., once the plane had a safe landing weight following dumping fuel.
Some 911 call centers in New Jersey were flooded with calls of concerned residents who said they could see the aircraft dumping the fuel.
"The house shook a little bit, it went away, and then we heard it again," said Rob Thomas.
Thomas, a private pilot knew what it meant when steam was coming out of the engines.
"It was dumping fuel, and you can see the fuel trails coming out of the wings and it had its landing gear down."
The control tower had noticed there was more venting than normal out of the wings.
Thomas guesses the pilot dropped 50 to 75 percent of the fuel on board. He thinks a problem with the tires set off a larger problem in the air.
The aircraft was searched and towed to the gate where passengers deplaned.
A different plane was later put into service to fly the passengers to Narita International Airport in Tokyo.