Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crashed – Possibly Shot Down

Malaysia Airlines lost contact with Boeing 777 flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur shortly before 11am Eastern.

Reports are of 295 people aboard, and that the plane went down along the Russia-Ukraine border.

There are, apparently, no survivors. Footage of the scene can be found here.

There is speculation that the plane may have been shot down. Downed over land, the plane’s data and voice recorders will almost certainly be found.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of everyone on board.

And my hopes go to Malaysia Airlines. Although it is far from the most pressing thing for today, following the tragedy of flight MH370, this will obviously weigh heavily on the future of the company which is already facing financial struggles. I flew with them in May and had a good experience.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. really chilling. thoughts and prayers with those affected. things like this put our worldwide travels in perspective so suddenly. lucky was flying out of AMS today and i couldn’t help but think what if his itinerary had been MH instead of KLM.

    really frustrating to read the typical ignorant comments on the news sites about how MH is some backwards, 3rd world airline.

    but just sad overall.

  2. Yes, cannot imagine losing Lucky or another friend on a flight. When Asiana crashed on landing at SFO last July I had people calling me because I had helped book some good friends back from Southeast Asia via Seoul for that day … they had met people on their inbound flight who were connecting on to SFO. But they were headed to Toronto on Air Canada. I did lose friends on 9/11.

    Plenty of stories spinning now in the news, there always are by people going on tv right away without the requisite knowledge. I turned down media requests regarding MH370 because though I certainly have/had pet opinions I am not at all a safety expert. I am not a pilot. I simply couldn’t speak with direct knowledge to what had happened.

    It’s mindboggling. Even just flying with them in May, I think to my own flight which I generally enjoyed. All good in the hood, that one. While Malaysia Airlines does have problems, and no matter what we learn about this flight, I do have pretty good confidence in their procedures.

  3. Gotta wonder if KLM 809 will be taking the same route over SE Ukraine or if they’ll reroute to avoid the area.

  4. @josh – this was the standard route that MH17 took every day, but it does seem prudent to route around the area out of an abundance of caution especially with open questions and especially since 3 planes have been downed there over the past week.

  5. It isn’t uncommon to fly over “dicey” countries while on int’l flights. I know I’ve recently been over places like Afghanistan and wondered “is it really safe to fly here?” I’m somewhat comforted by the high altitude but, as we’ve apparently seen here, that’s no full guarantee of safety.

    What makes this incident more troubling though, is that the area was not only “dicey” but, seemingly, a genuine war zone. There are talking heads on TV saying that there have been recent reports of surface-to-air missiles in the region. So who chose this flight path? Could the captain have rejected it? And was the Malaysian transponder properly identifying the aircraft as civilian? It is these questions that everyone is going to be asking in the next few days.

  6. Just realized that TWA 800 was 18 years ago today…

    @Gary, Gotta wonder if Mr Morgan is going to start speculating on that as well.

    @iahphx I’m going to be booking an award trip the the Maldives in about 6 months… now I’ve got a bit of a worry wondering if I need to be looking at routing as well as seat availability. I now it will pass… but still

  7. 3 days ago a Ukrainian AN-26 cargo plane was shot down with a missile from supposedly 21,000 feet. That should have been enough to require commercial air traffic to prudently re-route around the area even though it will add time and fuel costs to the flights.

  8. Yeah back in May I did four segments on MH, 3 on MH itself and one on MAS Wings. Nothing less than a pleasant experience all around. For my itinerary, I flew on nothing larger than an A320 — MH could teach UA a thing or two about service.


    I actually don’t know what’s enough to get planes routed around a war zone, particularly when they’re passing through at high cruise altitude. Frankly, 33,000 feet is much higher than 21,000 feet. Second, if a Ukranian flight is shot down over the Ukraine, it’s too easy to assume that it’s “domestic” politics at play. I mean come on, there’s unrest in BKK quite frequently these days, and rarely does it affect air travel.

    Finally, I’m not sure how much press the Ukraine cargo plane getting shot down really received, I hadn’t heard of it until today.

  9. I know that some of the commercial air traffic flying into Russia has been flying around Ukraine as far back as April, before any of this. Strange that only now these airlines decide to reroute. Fuel is expensive, but is it really this expensive?

  10. @Dan,

    33,000 feet is only 10,000m. The alleged missile used was the BUK system that has an effective range of 20,000m.

  11. @David

    Altitude, not range. Range is far longer. Can’t believe how many news sources are getting it confused.

  12. @Dan, the majority of the missile systems capable of the shooting down of an aircraft at 21,000 feet are also capable of reaching 33,000 feet. Regardless hitting an aircraft at 21,000 feet would be an indicator that the opposition forces had advanced technology SAM capability which should have been a warning. While they have IFF, those systems are only really capable of positive identification of aircraft equipped with “firendly” IFF units . As such they can’t distinguish between a Ukrainian military plane and a civilian airliner without support from other radar systems. I’m not looking to blame anyone, it’s just that I’m not really surprised this happened.

    As to the unrest in BKK, I haven’t seen where the insurgents have gotten their hands on advanced capability weapons which has been happening in Ukraine for over 4 months now.

    The AN-26 shoot down was front page on the day it happened, that’s how I knew about it.

    @flyingbear, correct the BUK is capable of an altitude of 14,000m. Other than the BUK, there are 3 other Russian manufactured SAM systems I’m aware of that could hit an aircraft at that altitude, any one of them could be in the hands of the Ukrainian separatists.

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