American Airlines Crew Rendered Unconscious Mid-Flight

An American Airlines A330 traveling from London Heathrow to Philadelphia had to divert to Dublin after two cabin crew fell unconscious. Flight AA729 was carrying 287 passengers and 12 crew when a ‘chemical smell’ caused several to become unwell. The smell was from a spillage of a cleaning product that had seeped into the carpet.

American Airlines chemical spill
An American Airlines A330 had to divert due to a chemical spill. Photo: Ian Gratton via Flickr

What happened?

Flight AA729 was scheduled to fly from London Heathrow to Philadelphia (PHL) today, departing at 10:15 local time. The A330-300, registered N273AY, pushed back at 11:14, and was due into Philly at 13:40 local. The flight had 287 passengers and 12 crew on board.

However, just over an hour into the flight, the crew requested an emergency landing at Dublin. The reason for the emergency was a harsh chemical smell on board.

American Airlines chemical spill
The flight had to divert after about an hour. Image: FlightRadar24

While fume events are somewhat common on airlines, this was another type of odor incident. It appears a cleaning product was the source of the problem, causing two flight attendants to fall unconscious and numerous passengers to report itchy skin and burning eyes.

American Airlines told Simple Flying,

“American Airlines flight 729 from London Heathrow to Philadelphia diverted to Dublin due to an odor caused by a spilled cleaning solution in the galley.

“The flight landed safely in Dublin at 1:15 p.m. local time, and taxied to the gate.

“Medical personnel have met the aircraft to evaluate any crew members or passengers who may need additional assistance.

“Two crew members and one customer were taken to the hospital for evaluation. All have since been released.”

The aircraft landed in Dublin safely at around 13:15 local time. At the time of writing, the aircraft is scheduled to fly on to Philadelphia from Dublin, but has not left yet.

Emergency services in attendance

As seen from the photographs online, there was a large attendance of emergency services who met the plane in Dublin. The airport told The Sun that this was ‘standard operating procedures’ and that it involved a full turn out of Dublin Airport’s emergency fire services.

Katie Phillips was on board the plane and tweeted that emergency services were in attendance.

The Telegraph further reports that the pilot, over radio, had told ATC that the cleaning product had been used at Heathrow and accidentally left in one of the toilets. It spilled and seeped into the carpet, causing difficulties for many of those on board. The publication shared the audio recording online:

In the audio recording, the pilot was heard to say that two cabin crew had ‘actually lost consciousness’ and that passengers were reporting itchy skin and burning eyes.

While it’s concerning that such a product could be left onboard an aircraft at all, what is more worrying is that it seems the issue was apparent before taking off.  Ms. Phillips told CNN,

“We were delayed for nearly an hour at Heathrow when they suspected a strange smell.”

Frustrated passengers

Some passengers expressed their frustration with the handling of the incident by the US carrier.

American Airlines have been responding to passengers on Twitter saying that the flight is rescheduled for tomorrow morning, and that they are working to get everyone settled for the night.

Were you onboard AA729? Have you ever had a funny smell on a flight? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.