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.
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.
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.
The @DublinAirport fire service were kept busy today as 2 @AmericanAir flights diverted with medical emergencies. The first was #AA729 from London Heathrow to Philadelphia & the 2nd was #AA787 from Paris CDG to Charlotte. #avgeek pic.twitter.com/gBmf13AXP5
— Michael Kelly (@Michaelkelly707) October 21, 2019
Katie Phillips was on board the plane and tweeted that emergency services were in attendance.
— Katie Phillips (@KatieHJP) October 21, 2019
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.”
Some passengers expressed their frustration with the handling of the incident by the US carrier.
@AmericanAir There aren’t even chairs, we’re not allowed to leave this area where we’re penned in like cattle, and we’ve not been fed by the likes of you since boarding four plus hours ago. You’re the worst. pic.twitter.com/PqnelJ2P2u
— Philip Ott (@Blasphevism) October 21, 2019
@AmericanAir am on the diverted flight to Dublin where the flight had the chemical spell. Shocking handling of the whole thing. No information, no food, one bottle of water. On a bus to god knows where. People scrumming to get in the bus.
— Huw Forrest (@forrestrealtime) October 21, 2019
Stuck in Dublin because of diverted flight with no idea how I’m getting to the USA tomorrow, very poorly handled. Sent to a hotel with no information at all. @BritishAirwaysT and @AmericanAir #AA729 #BA1588
— louiseflorey (@LFlorey10) October 21, 2019
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.
We’re working to get you all settled and our apologies for the inconvenience. The flight is scheduled to depart again tomorrow morning.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) October 21, 2019
Were you onboard AA729? Have you ever had a funny smell on a flight? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.