The runway at Gatwick Airport had to be closed and flights were diverted after an inbound airliner requested an emergency landing.
The British Airways Airbus from Naples landed shortly after midnight on Friday after reporting a technical fault.
The A320 remained on the runway while an inspection took place, closing the main runway. It reopened at 04:58 BST.
A group of students returning from a geography trip were all back home "safe and sound", their school said.
A handful of flights had to be diverted before the standby runway was opened.
No-one was injured in the emergency landing and passengers were able to disembark the aircraft a short time later.
British Airways said: "Our flight landed safely after our pilots requested a priority landing as a precaution after a technical fault.
"Our engineers are currently conducting a thorough check of the aircraft."
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Michael Edwards, who was on a school geography trip to Naples for students from years nine to 11, said his pupils remained "mature and calm".
The head teacher of Tupton Hall School, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire told the BBC: "We are proud of the behaviour and courage of the children. It was a very concerning situation.
"Everybody dealt with it brilliantly, including the emergency services," he said.
"Everybody is back at home, safe and sound."
An EasyJet service from Paphos and a TUI flight from Larnaca flew to Birmingham before the standby runway opened.
A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said the passengers from the two diverted flights were returned to Gatwick by coach.
Other flights were diverted to other airports before returning to land at Gatwick.