TODAY   |  January 13, 2014

Passenger plane lands at wrong airport

A Southwest Airlines plane flying out of Chicago with a scheduled to stop at Branson Airport in Missouri landed at the Carl-Taney County Airport instead, eight miles from the intended location. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>>> breaking news in missouri. how did a commercial jet touch down at the wrong airport? kristen dahlgren with more on that story. good morning to you.

>> well, officials with the ntsb say they are opening an investigation. remember back in november when a cargo plane landed at the wrong airport in kansas? well, this time it was a passenger plane. according to the passengers, the southwest pilot got on the p.a. and said welcome to branson . turns out, they were several miles away .

>> we came in sideways, like in the air and you could feel like something was wrong. but we thought it was maybe turbulence.

>> tense moments sunday night when southwest flight 4013 left chicago's midway airport and was scheduled to stop in branson , missouri. instead the boeing 737 carrying 124 passengers and five crew members touched down at the clark- taney county airport, about eight miles away on a runway half the length of a landing strip in branson .

>> we hit the runway really fast and stopped and all of a sudden you smelled rubber really strong.

>> the plane stopped less than 500 feet from the end of the runway, just before a 30-foot drop to a highway.

>> honestly, we owe our lives to the pilot. he stopped it on a runway where we would've ended up in the freeway.

>> no one was injured. and while there's no official explanation for why the plane landed at the wrong airport. experts say this type of mistake is rare.

>> it is not at all common to have an airliner land at an airport other than its intended destination.

>> reporter: late sunday, passengers were brought by bus to the correct airport. and southwest brought in another aircraft for those traveling on to other destinations.

>> my goodness. it's a blessing that nobody got hurt or killed.

>> now, southwest released a statement overnight saying a ground crew took care of customers with their baggage. and, quote, the landing was uneventful. and i think that may have been an understatement.

>> exactly right. kristen, we appreciate it.

>>> want to turn to politics