Less than a week after a high-profile safety mix up where a Delta plane landed on the airport taxiway at the world’s busiest airport, rather than the parallel runway – there’s been another instance of cockpit carelessness reported by The Wall Street Journal:Flown off course

“Federal officials are working to sort out whether pilots of a Northwest Airlines flight dozed off or were simply distracted Wednesday night when they fell out of contact with air-traffic controllers for more than an hour and overshot their destination by 150 miles.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, among other things, whether the two pilots fell asleep at the controls. The pair told law-enforcement officials who interviewed them upon landing in Minneapolis — and apparently told fellow pilots later — that they had been engaged in a “heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness,” according to the NTSB.

Whatever the reason, the plane may have flown out of range of one air-traffic-control center and failed to take steps to get back on course and resume radio contact with controllers, according to industry and government officials close to the situation.

During the 78-minute radio silence, controllers became so concerned about the fate of the 149 people aboard that they asked pilots of other aircraft in the vicinity to see if they could rouse the Northwest crew, according to industry and government officials. When that failed, the Federal Aviation Administration and military official began to consider having fighter jets scrambled to intercept the twin-jet Airbus A320, these officials said.

When an aircraft fails to respond for such a long time, it is routine procedure to send fighters to try to determine the problem.”

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The New York Times blog InTransit notes that Club Med is offering seven nights for the price of three. The Seven-Day Weekend deal starts at $799 a person and is available at any of Club Med’s all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida.
  • A Utah congressman upset he had to go through extra screening is shown in newly released video footage going through airport security.  Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says screeners at the Salt Lake City airport targeted him for an additional search because he refused to go through a whole-body imaging machine.  The union representing airport security workers says he was trying to kick start a confrontation.
  • Alaska Airlines began nonstop daily service today between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  Flights leave Seattle at 9:10 a.m. and arrive in Atlanta at 5:10 p.m. local time.  Return flights leave Atlanta at 6:10 p.m. and arrive in Seattle at 8:30 p.m.