A Delta Air Lines flight bound for Barcelona on Friday evening had to turn back to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after a passenger reportedly suffered a severe diarrhoea episode, causing a biohazard concern onboard.
The Airbus A350, Flight DL194, had 336 passengers and was about two hours into its journey when the decision was made to return.
“Medical Issue” Turns Flight Around
The aircraft turned back over central Virginia, citing a “medical issue” on board, according to audio transmissions from the flight deck. The pilot stated, “This is a biohazard issue. We’ve had a passenger who’s had diarrhoea all the way through the airplane, so they want us to come back to Atlanta.” The incident sparked immediate reactions on social media platforms like Reddit and Twitter, where users discussed the potential risks associated with such incidents.
Social Media Reactions and Eye-Witness Accounts
Twitter user John Hurdt, who claimed to be onboard, praised the crew’s decision to turn back. “Both my wife and I were on the flight. It was a mess. The pilots made the right decision to turn around,” he wrote. Others on social media raised concerns over potential biohazards, one user noting, “Diarrhoea with or without Ebola is a biohazard.”
Swift Response by Ground Crew
Upon landing back at Atlanta, the ground crew swiftly took action to sanitize the aircraft. “The ground crew ripped out the carpet and put new in. Considering the circumstances, the ground crew did a great job, along with the attendants and the pilots,” added John Hurdt.
Delta Issues Apology and Ensures Safe Travel
Delta confirmed that the flight was delayed by just over eight hours but eventually landed in Barcelona without further incident on Saturday at 5:16 p.m. local time. A spokesperson for the airline said, “Our teams worked as quickly and safely as possible to get our customers to their final destination. We sincerely apologize to our customers for the delay and inconvenience to their travel plans.”
While the incident was highly unusual, it raises questions about the preparedness of airlines to deal with medical emergencies or biohazard issues in flight. The rapid and effective response by the crew and ground staff, however, serves as a reassuring testament to Delta’s commitment to passenger safety.