British Airways Flight Bound for Düsseldorf Somehow Ends up in Edinburgh

Mar 25, 2019

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A British Airways flight out of London bound for Düsseldorf (DUS) accidentally landed in Edinburgh (EDI) Monday morning. Passengers aboard the flight were baffled when the more than 500-mile mix-up occurred.

BBC reported that passengers on flight BA3271 had no idea that they were Scotland-bound until they heard the “welcome to Edinburgh” announcement after landing. At first, passengers thought the announcement was some sort of prank. Amid the confusion, the pilot requested people who wanted to go to Düsseldorf raise their hands. He got a resounding response from the passengers. The flight was then delayed on the tarmac for more than two hours. Sophie Cooke, a passenger on board the flight and frequent flyer of the London City Airport (LCY) to Düsseldorf route, said that the experience on the stranded plane was “stuffy,” and that passengers were frustrated. “The toilets were blocked and they ran out of snacks,” she told BBC.

The flight was operated by German airline, WDL Aviation, on a wet-lease. The mistake, according to British Airways, was due to incorrectly submitted paperwork. The two airlines are now investigating together why the wrong flight plan was filed.

The confusion between the passengers and the flight crew was completely mutual, it seems. Passenger Son Tran tweeted that the flight crew seemed “convinced of the Edinburgh flight path from the get-go” and the pilots’ response to the mix up was one of genuine bewilderment. “The pilot said he had no idea how it had happened,” said Cooke. “He said it had never happened before and that the crew was trying to work out what we could do.”

One of the most bizarre aspects of this story is how the flight crew and passengers managed to stay on different pages for the duration of the flight. However, according to a tweet by a passenger Chris McG, boarding passes weren’t checked, and the first announcement the crew made about the destination was as the plane was landing in Edinburgh. So that might have something to do with it.

Mix-ups in which pilots accidentally land planes in the wrong place aren’t entirely unheard of. In 2014, the New York Daily News reported about 150 cases of airplanes arriving at the wrong airport in the past two decades. However, these cases are usually attributed to pilots being thrown off course by airports that are in close proximity to their planned destination — which, of course, doesn’t apply to the Edinburgh/Düsseldorf debacle.

Featured image by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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