FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the "go-round" procedure is common and probably happens once or twice a day at the airport.
"It's a safety procedure," she said. "It ensures that no plane lands unless the runway is completely cleared."
In Sunday's incident, the incoming flight was about one mile from the runway and 300 feet off the ground when it pulled up suddenly to circle.
A controller noticed that a departing America West flight was still on the runway and ordered the maneuver.
The controller also sent the departing plane in the same direction as the incoming flight, but caught the mistake and sent the departing plane in a different direction, telling it to climb to 9,000 feet.
"There was no danger, since the two planes were flying in different directions and they had visual separation," Bergen said.