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article imageSouthwest flight lands in Missouri — at the wrong airport

By Yukio Strachan     Jan 13, 2014 in Travel
Branson - Southwest Airlines passenger Scott Schieffer knew something wasn't quite right on Sunday when the plane, making a planned stop in Branson, Missouri, first touched down on the runway.
“As soon as we touched down the pilot applied the brake very hard and very forcibly,” Schieffer, a 36-year-old attorney from Dallas told ABC News. "I was wearing a seatbelt but I was lurched forward because of the heavy pressure of the brake."
The flight, Southwest Airlines Flight 4013, carrying 124 passengers and five crew members, was heading to Dallas Love Field Sunday from Chicago’s Midway International Airport.
"We stopped and then all of a sudden you just smelled rubber, really strong, like through the whole cabin," a female passenger told NBC Chicago.
All seemed fine when moments later the flight attendant announced “Welcome to Branson,” Schieffer said.
But the pilot came on the intercom with another announcement, according to PIX11.
"Ladies and gentlemen," the pilot said, "I’m sorry to tell you we landed at the wrong airport.’”
'I apologize'
The Boeing 737-700 landed at the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport, also known as Taney County Airport, instead of at Branson Airport, the main commercial air strip near Branson, Southwest said in a statement. The airports are about 7 miles apart.
This is important because Taney County Airport's runway is 3,738 feet. Branson Airport’s runway is 7,140 feet long. Passengers would later find out that the plane stopped 300 feet short of a steep embankment, averting disaster.
The pilot continued to speak to passengers over the intercom, trying to calm their nerves.
"People know we are here and we will be taking care of you just as soon as we can," the pilot said, "Thanks again for your patience and I apologize."
Southwest suspends pilots
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said the agency is investigating the mistaken landing but had no other comment. The National Transportation Safety Board said their investigators will also be conducting interviews with the flight crew this week, the Chicago Tribune reported.
It is not yet known why a Southwest captain, who has 15 years flying with the airline, and a first officer landed at the wrong airport — skies were all clear at the time, and the temperature was in the 50s — but the pilots have both been removed from flying duties until the federal investigation of the landing is complete, according to the Chicago newspaper.
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said customers all received an apology, a refund and future travel credits “as a gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience.” There were no injuries, according to the airline.
The plane remained in Branson Monday morning and took off Monday around 3 p.m. heading to Tulsa, Okla., for fuel, before returning to service, Agnew said.
This is second time in two months that a large plane has landed at the wrong airport.
More about Southwest airlines, plane lands at wrong airport, Chicago's Midway International Airport, FAA, Ntsb
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