How Often Do Airliners Go Around?

Go-arounds aren’t terribly common under Part 121 commercial operations.

Question: How often do airliners go around, and what’s the usual reason?

Answer: Go-arounds aren’t terribly common under Part 121 commercial operations, and most airline pilots go a year or more between wave-offs. The most frequent cause is a lack of separation between landing traffic at busy airports, usually when air traffic control mistakenly vectors a heavier, faster aircraft behind a lighter, slower one. Unstabilized approaches are another common reason, either the result of being “slam-dunked” by ATC or simply misjudging a visual approach.


It’s quite rare to go missed on account of poor weather, since Part 121 requires reported visibility to be above minimums before starting an approach. Because go-arounds are both uncommon and easy to botch, they are practiced frequently during recurrent simulator training, and it is now common to review go-around procedures during the approach briefing.

Do you have a question about aviation that’s been bugging you? Ask us anything you’ve ever wanted to know about aviation. Our experts in general aviation, flight training, aircraft, avionics, and more may attempt to answer your question in a future article.

This article was originally published in the December 2022/January 2023 Issue 933 of FLYING.


New to Flying?


Already have an account?