There truly is nothing worse than missing your exit on a stretch of road that you have never traveled before. You have to try and turn around or worse yet, get off on another exit and try and work your back on track. If that's not bad enough, now try doing the same thing at 20,000 feet. Two Northwest pilots did just that and then had to explain themselves not only to the people in their vehicle, but to the world.
"Hey Charlie, did you catch that Lakers game last night?"
"Yeah it was great. What about that commercial for steak fries in the third quarter? Didn't those look good?"
"Sure did. Hang on, the Flight Attendant needs something. Yes, Susan?"
"Captain, I was just wondering if you were planning on landing at our destination today?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Some of the passengers jumped out of the plane over a hundred miles ago....you know, over the airport we were supposed to land at."
This is an example of what can happen if the flight crew is distracted. There can be many reasons for distractions, in this case, they were actually (pilot and co-pilot) researching information on their own laptops at the same time and neither heard the requests by ATC to contact them. Eventually a Flight Attendant called into the cabin and asked them what the ETA was on their approach. The Northwest Airlines crew had overshot their airport by 100 miles...not a small mistake. They were each doing their own thing which is contrary to company policy and it is going to require new training and a review of policies related to in-flight procedures.
This incident happened on October 29th, 2009 on a trip to Minneapolis.
This article was written and submitted by resident aviation news editor Justin Marley with source to Aero-News.