United Flight That Was Too Large Forced to Return to Airport Halfway Through Flight

United Flight that was "too large"

Courtesy: United Airlines

United Flight That Was Too Large Forced to Return to Airport Halfway Through Flight

Flights turn around for all sorts of a reasons.  But a United flight that was too large was forced to turn around before landing at Chattanooga Airport.  This is rather troubling given there was an airplane swap before the flight departs Chicago O’Hare.  Worse still, the flight didn’t turn around until well into the flight.

United Airlines Flight 5277 was scheduled to depart at 2:13 p.m.  The flight is a United Express flight operated by SkyWest Airlines.  The flight was delayed, a plane swap occurred, and the flight was on its way by 2:25 p.m.  It was scheduled to land at 5:00 p.m. at Chattanooga Airport.  A passenger onboard reported more than halfway into the flight, the captain announced they were turning around.  The flight crew didn’t provide too many details besides saying the plane was “too large” to land at Chattanooga Airport.

The plane arrived back at Chicago O’Hare 4:29 p.m.  The passengers were offered snacks and water and told a new flight would leave in an hour.  Even upon arrival, the passengers were told little.  However, a text message on the delay sent by United said, “We’re sorry for returning to Chicago. The airport in Chattanooga is unable to assist with ground operational requirements for your current aircraft type. We assigned your flight a new plane.”  So it seems that the arrival airport didn’t have the capability to handle that aircraft type.  Perhaps, this is something that would have been communicated before the plane departed originally.

Final Thoughts

It’s understandable that airlines are big operations that require large staffs and significant operational skills.  That doesn’t make it any less concerning when something like this happens.  The airline changed an aircraft without a capability to be serviced at the airport it was flying to.  I guess the passengers should be thankful the mistake was caught before they landed!

Source: USA Today

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