Passenger Nightmare: British Airways Makes 9-Hour Flight to Nowhere, Crosses Atlantic Twice Due To Engine Trouble

British Airways turned around a flight to Houston on Monday after it had already crossed the Atlantic, making a second crossing before returning passengers to London Heathrow – a nine-hour flight to nowhere.

The Boeing 787-9 operating flight BA195 made it back to London about 7 p.m. local time. Everyone had been on the plane in total for 10 hours. The airline made the striking decision that, after a reported engine fault, it was better to cross the Pond a second time with an engine issue which didn’t even get the plane on the ground faster.

  • There wasn’t an immediate safety issue
  • But it was easier to deal with any engine issues at London Heathrow than Houston

According to USA Today‘s Zach Wichter, a British Airways source explained that “they were worried about their ability to get the plane back from Houston for inspection and repairs.”

British Airways didn’t turn around because it was unsafe to fly to Houston. Instead, BA turned around because they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to take off again without replacing an engine – which they’d likely have to fly in to Houston and have changed there. That is much more cumbersome for the airline than dealing with it at London Heathrow, where they have the personnel and equipment on site to do it themselves.

They’d need all the tools, equipment and parts on site and a team of mechanics and engineers to disconnect and remove the engine using hoists, inspecting surrounding structures for damage or wear and then secure the new engine to the aircraft and finally testing, calibrating and inspecting it.

Put another way, passengers had to take a nine-hour flight to nowhere for BA’s convenience rather than for their safety.

(HT: @WandrMe)

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 »

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  1. What if Columbus did the same ? Sail from Spain to the West Indies , and immediately turn around and sail back ?

    What if the Pilgrims did the same ? Sail from Holland to Plymouth Rock , and immediately turn around and sail back ?

    What if Brandon did the same ? Wake up in the morning , and immediately fall asleep again ?

  2. And there aren’t any Boeing/RR Trent1000/GEnx repair facilities in the USA??
    Surely, if MIA doesnt have one, they could at least have explored diverting to a repair facility/hub in the USA.

  3. You would certainly think that British Airways can figure out how to get engine support in either Montreal or Boston or NYC.
    They are either being unsafe or intentionally inconveniencing customers. You can’t argue that it was safe to fly the plane but then also return to London when it wasn’t technically necessary.

  4. Given their huge operation at JFK, it’s surprising they didn’t divert there. It seems that the engine issue could have been handled there, and the passengers would have easily been able to clear immigration and be accommodated on the many flights to Houston.

  5. I had that happen to me on a LH flight. I understand why they want to get the plane back to their home base but as a pax I would be concerned about crossing the pond a second time with an engine issue. Surely all airlines have provisions for mechanical issues outside of their hub cities.

  6. Hopefully an independent investigation will be made to make sure that the passengers were safe for the entire trip.

  7. You have to wonder if the savings is greater than the fuel burn, rebooked passengers, and the undoubtedly bad press.

  8. BA just wanted to assure saving a little money at the expense of the passengers’ time. A full day that was stolen from every passenger. I would be angry.

  9. @Travelgirl … +1 . What if Lindbergh flew to the Channel on a single engine , had an engine issue , and then flew back across the pond ?

  10. Saving money is a good thing. Five stars for British Air. Too bad the passengers had to endure an extra lengthy trans-Atlantic trek but they’re all safe and sound in London Town.

    Now everybody is looking for another way to cross over to the United States. Ideas? Alas, it seems British Air doesn’t give refunds, or re-bookings, or anything. “Hey, you’re on the ground. What more do you want? It was a nice flight and we even gave ya’all a couple’a meals. Shut up and go home.”

    Yup, that’s today’s transportation system.

  11. First place prize is a transatlantic trip on BA; second place prize is two trips on BA! Actually, BA is interesting because it shares Avios with QR (best airline in the world 2024), and also flies the B777 and A380, (my two best aircraft.) I always thought the B787 overrated. The B787 is louder and bumpier than the A380.
    So yeah, two trips on B787 would be too punishing, were it not for the Avios that I could use on QR. And OW Emerald Status helps make BA transatlantic at least half-way decent. Cheerio!

  12. All passengers were generously issued 100 Avios points for their inconvenience

  13. What if MAGA destroyed the legacy of the Republican party, realized that they had no platform except hate and revenge and decided to continue anyways?

    Oh wait… that is what they are doing.


  14. “Name Withheld”.

    I think you just as your leader Sleepy Joe are suffering from some age related disabilities. All is forgiven though. It is the current Democratic Party leadership who is destroying their party from the ground up most likely forever. Open your eyes and stop drinking the mainstream media koolaid.

  15. Cjmorgan – that is some seriously funny shit!

    You’re serious.

    How embarrassing for you.

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