Travel News

British Airways flight diverted back to London after 11 hour journey

Simon Calder’s Travel

British Airways passengers were forced to endure an 11-hour “flight to nowhere” when a Boeing 777-200 aircraft developed a “technical issue” on Sunday morning.

Flight BA31 from London to Hong Kong was over four hours into the 12h 45m journey when the decision was made to return to its departure airport.

Data from tracking site FlightRadar24 shows that the service was flying at 35,000ft over Turkmenistan when the 23-year-old Boeing 777-200 was turned around by the crew.

The flight departed for Hong Kong International from Heathrow Airport on Saturday evening (29 June) at 8.55pm.

Upon returning to the London runway 11 hours later – only two hours less than the original entire flight time – the Hong Kong service was cancelled.

London Heathrow is British Airways’ home base with an onsite maintenance team established to make repairs.

The airline said in a statement: “The flight returned to London Heathrow as a precaution due to a minor technical issue.

“It landed safely and customers disembarked as normal. We’ve apologised to our customers for the disruption to their journey.”

On Sunday, the rescheduled BA31 flight again failed to land as planned when it was diverted to Budapest three hours into the journey due to a medical emergency onboard.

It’s not the first time technical issues have forced a flight to turn around in the last year.

A British Airways service from London to Texas turned back just as the aircraft reached North America, resulting in passengers enduring a nine-hour flight to nowhere.

A “flight to nowhere” refers to any flight that ends up landing back at its departure airport without stopping off elsewhere.

Flight records show that the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, headed to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, had just crossed the Canadian border before backtracking earlier this month.

Last November, Air New Zealand was forced to operate an 11-hour “flight to nowhere” after a plane carrying passengers developed a technical fault.

Flight NZ26 from Auckland to Chicago was four hours into the 15-hour scheduled flight on Wednesday (8 November) when the decision was made to turn back.

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