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Southwest Airlines Community

Diverts and diversions....

Adventurer B
Diverts and diversions.... 

Does it take a "pretty bad" problem to make a pilot turn the plane around and go back to the airport they departed from? How "bad" is it? An "air return" can result from a myriad of issues such as: -pressurization problems -funny smells -medical issues with passengers With the exception of medical emergencies, Pilots complete an "event" checklist, and once the checklist is completed, it will point the Crew in the direction they need to consider going. If the departure airport is closer than an enroute alternate, going back makes the most sense, especially if the airline maintenance (MX) folks are there. Nothing like taking a MX problem home to your own Mechanics. They have the know how and tools to fix the problem. My first thought in these situations is not "Wow! Are we gonna make it back?" but rather, "Bummer. A hassle for the passengers with plans or connections at our destination." Last October I was deadheading (riding in the passenger cabin) to Dallas for training. I was just slipping into a dream nearing cruising altitude when I heard the engines throttle back and we started descending. "This can't be good..." I thought. Seems a hydraulic system had lost pressure. We went back to Phoenix; they tightened a fitting that had loosened; reserviced the hydraulic reservoir; tested it; and we were on the way 30 minutes after we landed. End of story. Other than being about an hour late, we all landed at our destination fine and dandy. A few people wanted to get off the plane due to "omen bugaboos," but those who stayed on figured, "If the Pilots are staying on, so are we." Relax. A divert or turnback is a hassle but not anything to worry about.