It was just a little clip, but when two Boeing 737s collided with just the tips of their wings at LaGuardia Airport in New York City Tuesday morning, at least a couple hundred travelers potentially had their holiday plans crash and burn.
Fortunately, no one was hurt when the wing tip of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 caught a piece of another 737’s wing as the two aircraft were taxiing near the gate area at LaGuardia Airport.
The 75-year-old airport located in the New York City borough of Queens, on land once home to an early 20th century amusement park, is now the 20th-busiest in the United States, with more than 23 million fliers passing through its gates on an annual basis.
The wing-clip accident took place at 11:03 a.m. Tuesday, but whether the Southwest Airlines plane or the 737 operated by American Airlines was at fault in the mishap remained uncertain as of late Tuesday afternoon.
— Arí Isaacman Astles (@Ari_Be_Free) December 23, 2014
The Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating, trying to figure out exactly what happened. The Southwest and American Airlines planes were carrying 143 passengers each, though the American plane carried six crew members compared to just five on Southwest Flight 449.
No one on board either plane was reported to be injured, though all 297 were seriously inconvenienced.
“The wingtip of the aircraft operating Southwest Airlines Flight #449 departing from New York LaGuardia to Denver came in contact with another aircraft that was awaiting a gate,” a Southwest Airlines statement read. “The 143 customers onboard Flight 449 deplaned the aircraft via air stairs and were bussed to the terminal where our Teams are working to get them to their destinations. The aircraft involved has been taken out of service for inspection and repairs.”
The Southwest plane was supposed to fly to Denver, Colorado, from LaGuardia in New York. American Airlines Flight 1104 had just arrived on a 2 hour, 40 minute flight from Dallas and was on its way to let passengers off at LaGuardia gate D7 when its wing collided with the wing of the Southwest 737.
“There was this bump. I look out the window and I actually see the tip of the (wing) falling off,” said passenger Stormie Alsruhe, on board the Southwest flight. “I saw it kind of dangle and it just fell. And I thought, ‘OK great, we’re not taking off now.”
Alsruhe also reported the accident on her Twitter feed.
— Stormie (@StormieEtta) December 23, 2014
Officials at the New York/New Jersey Port Authority said that LaGuardia operations were not affected by the wing clip incident.