FlightAware Discussions

SWA Flight 2154 Go Around 4/22/19 Denver to Milwaukee

I am just an average passenger. Had a very scary experience last Monday evening. We attempted to land in Milwaukee in bad weather, nearly landed “seeing the runway” north to south, and then took back off, flew out over the lake; the pilots tried again south to north, only to nearly land “seeing the runway” and take off again–I was watching on flight aware. No explanation from the pilot until well after the second attempt and we were halfway out over Lake Michigan. (of course they were busy), never an explanation as to what occurred, just bad weather ( must have been wind sheer I assume) we diverted to Midway and landed, all clapped; a panicky passenger and family got off the plane, and we sat for a long time as we refueled and I guess basically all had data had to be reset as 4 people insisted on getting off without any of their luggage . We then flew back to MKE after weather passed, it was still bumpy, but we had a straight shot and landed 3 hours late.
My questions—if weather is so bad, aren’t there sensors or reports from other pilots as to conditions to avoid this risk? Why in this day and age would this occur? I’m glad for our pilots but why do they attempt to land when wind sheer information should be available? I understand weather can be unpredictable, but isn’t this to much of a risk?. Is is not a risk? Is an “unplanned go around” as you say, without risk in bad weather?
I don’t understand. Help.
IF and when I fly again, I will re book any of my future flights --if I see bad weather occurring at my destination. That was very scary, I literally was texting my kids I love them.

Also Flight aware didn’t show the return flight from Midway to MKE That’s a misnomer. Also no flight data after the expected landing time of 2230 We returned at 0130.

DEN diverted to MDW flight is shown in FlightAware as 2 flights- https://flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA2154/history/20190423/0125Z/KDEN/KMKE
and https://flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA2154/history/20190423/0343Z/KMKE/KMDW
Return flight from MDW to MKE - https://flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA2154/history/20190423/0557Z/KMDW/KMKE

1 Like

In this particular case, we received an arrival message at MKE from one of our upstream data sources at around the time of the go-around (which in retrospect was clearly wrong), which is why the flight then got split into two legs.

A go-around is something I’ve never experienced but every time I fly, I hope it’ll happen.

It’s a good thing, it’s the pilot taking action to avoid a potential bad situation and taking you out of danger, not putting you in danger.


I can count go arounds on both hands. Couple due to weather, couple due to traffic not clearing runways. Had one flight into KALB where we made it on the third try. We were less than 100 feet agl for the first two before they hit the gas and went around. Both were due to wind shear (not sheer)

Weather is a funky thing. It can change rapidly, right? I was listing to Albany approach couple of weeks back during a windy day and four different flights reported different conditions on final. Two reported something indicative of wind shear on final but not severe enough to require a go around. The other two flights reported nothing. This all occurred within 30 minutes or so. All flights were informed by the tower that a preceding flight or flights had reported a + or - in airspeed on final as to alert the landing aircraft. Given that they changed approach direction would mean that they had a pretty significant crosswind and it shifted as they approached the first time and decided to shoot the approach from the other direction the next time.

I would venture to guess a front was coming into MKE and judgement call was made by the crew to divert to MDW until the front passed. Remember, the crew in the pointy end of the plane want to land safely just and much as you do.

Why in this day in age would this occur? Because weather happens. Period. Also, while pilots are very well paid for what they do, the don’t “earn” it on clear days with no wind. They earn it on days like that. I would suggest next time you find yourself in that situation, safely on the ground, shake their hands and thank them for being the professionals that they are than perhaps… question what they did.


Exactly this.

It really frustrates me when you see reports from ignorant passengers in the press after a go around saying things like “we nearly died”, “people were panicking” etc. No, you didn’t nearly die but perhaps you might have done if the pilot hadn’t actually taken action to remove you from the danger. You should be thanking the pilot for doing her (or his) job and flying the aircraft properly.


You are absolutely right, which I have since learned. Christmas of 2011: Bad weather was sweeping across the Midwest. Sat on a commuter in Des Moines for nearly two hours waiting for St. Louis to clear out the traffic that was stacked up all over the place. Flight to St. Louis was IFR all the way. Barely able to see wing tips. Started approach and went down to absolute minimums, then full throttle , wheels up and back in to IMC. Circled for 35 minutes then landed but had to sit on tarmac for another hour because all gates were clogged. Finally deplaned into 6 inches of accum. snow. Never new the reason for the go-round but have learned to assume that pilot had good cause to do so.

1 Like

Thank you so much for your explanation
Weather must have been changing rapidly and we did have a front coming through

My son who was waiting and watching for us did see that aircraft were circling

I did have utmost confidence in the pilots and did thank them as I passed the cockpit for their very good work
My question is isn’t there a better way of avoiding and measuring these wind shears to give pilots better data ti make their decision

I have had a number of bumpy rides but have much confidence in a Southwest pilots.
Thank you for all you do

I did thank the pilots sir and I am just asking and getting a bit edjamacated on the process. Not a pilot, just a customer who went through a scary experience along with all my new friends in my row on that flight

1 Like

There are wind shear detectors around the field. If you look at the links provided you will see how the weather was moving in. I can guarantee that if there was a report of wind shear at the field, they would have never attempted either approach. Was it gusty and approaching what would allow them to land, yes. Again, NO PILOT WILL PUT YOU AND THEIR PASSENGERS AT RISK. Can the weather change. Yes. But they are trained to see the sudden increases or decreases in airspeed that are indicative of wind shear. They had all the information available. It was safe to make the approach. It ended up not being safe enough to land.

The reason for the go around was they hit minimums and didn’t see the runway. Next time, saw the runway before minimums.

Rootski here…Thanks for your reply.

Thank you so much. A good learning

As a Dispatcher, I’ve seen lots of conditions culminate into one nasty scenario - and can do so quickly. Our software can forecast only so much with certain accuracy ahead of time. When your flight was released, MKE’s weather was suitable to land - and I’m sure somewhere during descent the cockpit got a message with an updated weather report for MKE. Wind Shear in particular is a tricky phenomena not only to forecast but also to pin point specifically where you’d expect it. The aircraft probably had Predictive Wind shear availability which also attempts to notify the pilots shortly before they would experience the effects. Fortunately, wind shear is certainly a manageable phenomena which all pilots are trained to counteract. No pilot plans to go around when he’s dispatched, however there’s never any shame in doing so when the Captain has even a speck of doubt on approach.

I would say to not let ‘bad weather’ soil your travel plans. While I understand being temporarily relocated to the alternate is definitely an inconvenience, just remember your flight cannot leave without first meeting weather minimums, nor will it land without meeting weather minimums. You’ve also always got another set of eyes watching over your flight at all times :man_technologist:

1 Like

I don’t blame you. On my first pattern flight in a Cessna, the wind and rain were not in our favor so we had to divert to an International Airport (KPDX). TRACON would not let us hear the end of it. Wind Shear is nasty for everyone.

Also, @SandraNickel, ATIS is not always up to date. Someone has to check the weather update it. Maybe it was just due to ATIS not being able to update in time. At least it did before it was too late. ATIS tends to be like that a lot. However, it is one of those things that can save your life.