Finnair Passengers Bussed To Prague After Fuel Smell On Airbus A321

A group of Finnair passengers spent around four hours on a bus last Monday. Their flight from Helsinki to Prague was diverted to Berlin. The reason? A smell of fuel was reported onboard.

Finnair, Airbus A321, Fuel Smell
This Finnair Airbus A321 diverted to Berlin after reports of a fuel smell in the cabin. Photo: Alf van Beem via Wikimedia

While we see lots of aircraft diverting or returning to their origins, Finnair’s flight AY1223 has an interesting story. The aircraft diverted to Berlin. The reported reason is the smell of fuel onboard. While it seems as though everything checked out with the aircraft, passengers weren’t so lucky. They had to endure a four-hour bus ride to their intended destination of Prague.

The flight

Flight AY1223 is Finnair’s daily scheduled service from Helsinki to Prague. The flight is almost always operated by an aircraft from the A320 family, however, has also utilised the E190. In general, the flight usually appears to be on time, and typically takes around 1-hour and 50-minutes to 2-hours.

On the 19th of August, AY1223 was being operated by an Airbus A321 registered as OH-LZF. While the flight was scheduled to depart Helsinki at 17:35, the flight did not get airborne until 17:52. It was then due to land in Prague at 18:45.

Finnair, Airbus A321, Fuel Smell
The aircraft diverted to Berlin en-route to Prague. Photo:

According to data from, the flight started off well. 23 minutes after takeoff the aircraft had reached its cruising altitude of 36,000 feet. Once it passed Tallinn, the aircraft flew almost directly towards Prague. At 18:08 CET, over northwest Poland, the aircraft turned towards Berlin.

After flying towards Berlin for around six more minutes, the aircraft began to descend. It continued on its course to Berlin, landing at 18:39 local time, giving a flight time of 1-hour and 46-minutes. The Aviation Herald reports that the aircraft diverted to Berlin Tegel “reporting an odour in the aft cabin, the source of which could not be located”.

What next?

It appears that once the aircraft landed in Berlin, the passengers were deplaned. They were then taken to Prague by bus. One passenger corroborated this, tweeting “We have just reached Prague by bus”. According to Google Maps, it takes just under four hours to drive between the two airports.

Finnair, Airbus A321, Fuel Smell
The aircraft returned to Helsinki the next afternoon. Photo: Valentin Hintikka via Wikimedia

As for the aircraft? The return flight from Prague to Helsinki, AY1224, was canceled as a result of the incident. The aircraft eventually departed from Berlin at 12:21 the next day, arriving back in Helsinki at 14:58.

The aircraft was deemed safe to operate. As a result, it re-entered service on the afternoon of the 20th of August, the day after the incident. Since then it has gone on to operate many successful flights for Finnair.

Simple Flying has contacted representatives of Finnair for comment.

Were you onboard AY1223? What are your thoughts on the incident? Let us know in the comments!