True or False?

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The Independent Travel
"Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts. We shall be landing at Heathrow airport in 15 minutes." Announcement by Japan Airlines stewardess last Monday afternoon.

False, although the announcement was not intended to mislead. Almost as soon as the stewardess had said it, the port wing dipped. The 747 then turned through 180 degrees and started heading directly back to Osaka. Had the pilot forgotten something which he was now returning to pick up? The passengers never discovered, since no reason for the about-turn was given.

The most likely explanation is that the approaches to Britain's busiest airport were congested, and that the Jumbo was instructed to fly back and forth across the Thames Estuary for some minutes before turning back for a second attempt. This, too, was thwarted and the residents of Barking in Essex were treated to a circuit from the Boeing.

The passengers were not just dizzy - they were confused. After all, the on-board computer had displayed the precise arrival time in the skies above London ever since the ground staff at Osaka had bowed respectfully and sent the aircraft on its way across Siberia. So surely a slot would have been allotted between all the short-hauls and shuttles for the long- heralded arrival of this flight from the Far East? Apparently not. So fuel gets consumed, and passengers get cross as they meander over Essex and their half-day hop extends towards evening.

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