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Airport Oddities

Southwest Flight Lands at Wrong Airport

This flight almost ended in disaster.

A Southwest Airlines flight landed at the wrong airport on Sunday night, and although it was only seven miles away from the correct destination, it caused huge problems. According to CNN, the flight was supposed to land at the Branson Airport, but it landed instead at a much smaller airport, M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport in Taney County, Missouri. That airport is not equipped to handle planes as big as the Boeing 737—the runway that the Southwest flight landed on was only 3,738 feet long (about half the length of the 7,140 feet Branson Airport runway that the plane was scheduled to arrive on.)

The pilot managed to stop the plane about 500 feet before the end of the much shorter runway—if he hadn’t and the plane had overshot the runway, it would have gone over a steep embankment and onto U.S. Highway 65.

According to a passenger on the flight, the pilot announced, “Welcome to Branson” after a very hard landing, before coming back on the intercom to say, “I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, we have landed at the wrong airport.” Flyers were stuck on the tarmac for about two hours until steps could be brought over from Branson Airport in order to get them off the plane.

The pilots are on paid leave pending an investigation of the incident, and passengers were offered a refund of their ticket and future travel credit.

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By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Boston.com, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

E-mail her at cmorse@smartertravel.com.

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