NEW YORK – A Delta Air Lines flight arriving at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday from Atlanta was only 100 feet above ground when it abruptly changed direction back towards the sky.
Mindy, who did not share her last name, was a passenger on Delta Flight 468 and had a window seat in the emergency row.
“We’re getting lower and lower and lower and lower, and I could see the water,” she said.
Flight Aware shows the plane was only 100 feet in the air at 12:18 PM Eastern Time. About 30 seconds later, it shot back up more than 1,500 feet.
“We go from really low to suddenly, he pulls the plane up, and we shoot off into the sky and start circling back around the city,” Mindy added.
She said the plane made a smooth landing shortly after, but an announcement on the speaker system acknowledged a close call.
“’There was another plane on the runway that was taking too much time,’ this is what they said, and so, ‘the air traffic control tower asked us to go around,’” Mindy recalled.
The FAA confirmed the go-around to FOX 5 NY in a statement: “An air traffic controller instructed Delta Air Lines flight 468 to perform a go-around at LaGuardia Airport around 12:18 p.m. local time on Thursday, Nov. 17, because another aircraft took longer than anticipated to exit the runway.”
“There’s a specific distance and time criteria that controllers have to follow, typically, and getting down to 100 feet is pretty low,” said Attorney Daniel Rose, a partner at Kreindler & Kreindler, specializing in aviation litigation. “As a general rule of thumb, you really don’t want planes closer than three miles from the airport and maybe 60 seconds away.”
Mindy said the startling feeling in her row was mutual.
“I look at the guy next to me, and he looks at me and I said, ‘Are we going to talk about this?'” she said.
Go-arounds, to those in the industry, are considered safe and planned procedures with the pilot in control and may seem like an emergency maneuver to an airline passenger.
Rose says they happen more than you’d think, but this instance was close.