Boeing 747 Makes Emergency Landing Due to Overheating Cows

390 hot cows set off a fire alarm in the cargo hold of a Boeing 747.

A pilot flying a Boeing 747 was forced to issue a “mayday” call and make an emergency landing after overheating cows were mistaken for a fire.

Pilots sent out a distress signal and received permission to come down at Heathrow Airport, London.

Yet when technicians inspected the cows’ deck they found no evidence of flames or even smoke.

Cows emit large quantities of methane and maintain body temperatures slightly higher than that of a human – the combination of which may have explained the sounding of an alarm.

It’s sort of like what’s going to happen quite regularly once new restaurants are up and running at Washington’s National airport.

(HT: @mipo777)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Guess this gives new meaning to the term “cattle class”…was this a Ryanair flight?

  2. someone correct me if my math is wrong but 390 cows at an average weight of 1000kg each (and some weigh much more) would be 390,000 kg. the max cargo of a 747 cargo jet according to boeing is 124,000 kg. the cows would have to weigh an average of 317 kg not including any kind of pens to keep them in.

  3. Ben’s Chili Bowl might, thankfully, not have this effect. There’s already a Varsity location at ATL, and so far there have been no reports of plane’s overheating or filling with unsafe levels of methane. But now I’ve guaranteed it’ll happen soon.

    Thanks for the mid-afternoon laugh though!

  4. I know flying in 2014 is less and less service oriented, but no need to insult the traveling public by calling us cows!


  5. Ha! I got a twitter hat tip from Gary, that’s awesome. 🙂 Now the question is, can the farmer claim all of those cows’ frequent flyer miles? 🙂

  6. This description is actually consistent with a report from a POLAR Air Cargo crew that was transporting a planeload of horses to Osaka from Seattle on a 747-400 freighter. The heat and vapors from the horses set off the smoke/fire alert system on the cargo deck. The lowest ranking man on the flight crew had to don an O2 mask and head down to inspect. I understand that it was quite odiferous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.