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Boeing 737 circling over Whatcom County was an unusual sight

Flight path of aWestJet flight having to circle over Whatcom County before diverting to Vancouver International Airport (September 10, 2023). Source: FlightAware

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Readers reported seeing a commercial airline plane circling over Custer and Birch Bay for over an hour today, Sunday, September 10th. It was eventually determined to be WestJet flight 714 that had departed Vancouver International Airport about 1:30pm destined for Toronto, Ontario.

According to flight data and maps from FlightAware, the Boeing 737-800 was 25 miles into the flight and had just reached an altitude of 6,900 feet when it leveled off and turned south, crossing the US-Canada border over Delta, west of the Guide Meridian.

It then spent nearly 2 hours circling over western Whatcom County and then in the area of the Victoria International Airport. According to experts, this is done in order to burn off fuel prior to landing since the 737 is not equipped with the means to dump fuel. Getting rid of the fuel makes the plane light enough to safely land.

A person who was reportedly on the flight said they had been advised that there was a mechanical problem with pressurizing the cabin and they had to return to Vancouver.

The 737 landed without incident in Vancouver after a 2-hour and 22-minute flight.

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