A Delta flight traveling from Atlanta to Barcelona had to make an unexpected return to its departure point after a passenger experienced severe diarrhea that affected multiple areas of the aircraft.
Flight DL194 had initially taken off from Georgia as scheduled at 8:47 pm on Friday, September 1. However, while flying over Virginia, the flight crew made the decision to reverse course and head back to Atlanta.
In a concise text message sent to Air Traffic Control, the captain provided a brief explanation for the diversion: ‘Divert to ATL — passenger diarrhea all over aircraft — biohazard.’
Audio recordings from air traffic control also capture one of the pilots confirming the situation over the radio.
‘It’s just a biohazard issue, we had a passenger who had diarrhea all the way through the airplane so they want us to come back to Atlanta.’
The situation was distressing for both passengers and crew, and some individuals who were aware of the incident took to social media to share their experiences.
‘My partner was on that flight! It was pretty bad. It was dribbled down the aisle, smelled horrible. The vanilla scented disinfectant used on it only made it smell like vanilla s***. After the plane landed, it was thoroughly cleaned. They didn’t leave until around 2:30am’, wrote Dee W.
The flight was met by emergency vehicles and EMTs carried the sick passenger off the plane.
‘My partner said the plane was cleaner when they got back on at 2am than it was the first time they got on. No smell either.’
‘Both my wife and I were on the flight. It was a mess. The pilots made the right decision to turn around. The ground crew ripped out the carpet and put new in.
‘Considering the circumstances, the ground crew did a great job, along the attendants and the pilots,’ wrote John Hurdt.
Upon landing back in Atlanta, the primary focus was on addressing the ‘biohazard’ issue by conducting a comprehensive cleaning of the aircraft.
Fortunately for passengers, the flight was not completely canceled. The plane touched down in Atlanta at 10:40 pm and eventually resumed its journey to Spain just over five hours later, at 3 am.
After an 8-hour and 13-minute flight, the aircraft finally landed in Barcelona at 5:10 pm, which was eight hours behind the originally scheduled arrival time.
While Delta acknowledged that the flight encountered an unexpected medical incident, the airline remained reserved about providing specific details.
‘Our teams worked as quickly and safely as possible to thoroughly clean the airplane and get our customers to their final destination. We sincerely apologize to our customers for the delay and inconvenience to their travel plans,’ the airline stated in a released statement.