Brent Bjorlin and his fellow airline passengers didn’t have a clue something had gone wrong at 37,000 feet until federal officials with badges and guns boarded the Northwest plane after it landed in the Twin Cities on Wednesday night.
As passengers prepared to leave, flight attendants told them to sit back down, Bjorlin said. Eventually, he and the others filed out, walking past security officials standing outside the closed cockpit door and still others on the jetway and at the gate.
“It looked like it was a big deal,” said Bjorlin of St. Michael, Minn.
It wasn’t until the next day that he and the others found out that Northwest Flight 188 from San Diego had overshot Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by 150 miles, winding up in Wisconsin before turning around to land safely at MSP. Federal officials say the pilots apparently became distracted. Military jets had been on standby to track down the jet after it dropped out of radio communication for about 75 minutes.
“When you hear that fighter jets were ready to scramble, that just gets you really mad,” said passenger Scott Kennedy.
In hindsight, passengers say, the wayward flight to Wisconsin may explain why the flight seemed to “drag on,” the usual pilot updates were nonexistent and why a flight attendant’s “unusual comment” now makes perfect sense.
Some passengers worried about making their connecting flights, Bjorlin said. When a passenger asked when the plane was expected to land, the attendant returned 10 minutes later and said, “‘I have no idea when we’re going to get to the terminal,'” he said.
Eventually, the pilot announced that the crew was waiting for clearance and would be landing soon, said Anne Kroshus of Woodbury. But the expected arrival time came and went. “It was bizarre,” she said. “It certainly didn’t feel like we were circling.”