The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into the curious incident Sunday in which a Southwest Airlines plane with 129 people on board landed in the wrong Missouri airport.
The flight took off from Chicago bound for Branson, but it landed several miles away at the Taney County airport, a smaller municipal airport where most of the traffic is small, private aircraft. From above, the two single-runway airports have a similar appearance, but that bird’s eye angle is not one the pilot of a Boeing 737 would expect to have while making final approach to land.
Passengers said the pilot braked hard on touch down. The Taney County runway is 3,738 feet long, while Branson’s runway is 7,140 feet long. The plane landed safely, reportedly with about 40 feet to spare, and those bound for Branson were less than 9 highway miles from their intended destination.
Southwest issued a statement Monday: “We expect the aircraft that landed at Taney County airport in Branson, Missouri, to depart the airport today. We continue to look into the circumstances which led the Pilot in command of flight 4013 from Chicago Midway to land at the airport, several miles from the Branson Airport we serve. We are cooperating with authorities in this investigation.”
The airline said it had apologized to the passengers, refunded their ticket payment and given them credit for future travel.