I see that FlightStats marked today's flight AS159, as departed from SEA's gate at 07:15 PT and diverted to SEA, where it arrived at 07:38 (mirror):

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A second flight AS159 departed from SEA's gate at 07:15 and was successful in reaching its scheduled destination (SFO) but was 1h07 late (mirror):

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Why was the first flight marked as diverted back to SEA? E.g., does that mean that passengers had to board twice?

  • 1
    I have no knowledge of what happened on this specific flight, but generally it means what it says on the tin: the plane likely had some kind of issue that forced it to return shortly after takeoff, and then the issue was fixed and they flew again. (Note that it's the same tail number, so the aircraft was the same.) May 1, 2022 at 8:47
  • @lambshaanxy thanks, since it has the same same tail number I'm indeed surprised. I don't think it took off as there's no actual runway time for the 1st departure. May 1, 2022 at 8:51
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    @FranckDernoncourt might have been a medical emergency, paperwork issue, minor technical issue - many many reasons. Once got stuck on a 767 that got towed around Gatwick for 90 minutes as it couldnt start its left engine and kept timing out on stands - finally they got it started, and we left. Would have been interesting to see the departure history of that flight, as we had the doors open several times.
    – user29788
    May 1, 2022 at 11:26

1 Answer 1


It would appear the flight in question did a "return to gate". That is to say that it pushed back from the gate at 7:15, then for some reason returned to the gate around 20 minutes later, without ever having made it to the runway in the interim. Around 15 minutes later it once again pushed back, and this time continued it's flight as expected.

Returning to the gate after pushing back isn't common, but it's also not uncommon and could be caused by anything from a minor mechanical issue, to removing a passenger from the flight for any reason, or possibly even to allow another passenger to join the flight (unlikely, but it does happen!).

In this particular case, it appears that the issue was due to a "weight and balance" issue. Some passengers were moved to different seats on the aircraft after it returned to the gate. It's also possible that some cargo was offloaded, but given the short time that it spent back at the gate I'd say that's unlikely.

Aircraft are required to have their "weight and balance" numbers available before they are able to plan their takeoff, and normally the pilots would have these details before they push back from the gate. Occasionally for various reasons they will not, in which case they may chosen to push back and start their taxi to the runway (or hold somewhere nearby) in order to free up the gate and get closer to the runway for when they receive them. In this case it's likely when they got the details they found there was an issue, and thus the need to return and re-balance either people or cargo.

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