When you hear about a flight urgently returning to their departing airport, you imagine that perhaps there is a warning light of a fire in the cargo hold, that a passenger is ill or maybe even that the aircraft has been denied access to the destination airspace.
But this is the first time we have heard of a plane returning because a passenger forgot something… their baby.
What are the details?
Saudia Flight SV832 was en route from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur when a passenger realized that they had misplaced something rather important. At first they checked their pockets for their phone and wallet, but despite being satisfied still had a feeling of unease. But then they suddenly realized that the baby that they were traveling with had been left at the boarding gate…
Saudia is the national flag carrier of the middle eastern state, their airline comprised of a mix fleet of 181 Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The plane in this incident was a 787-9.
Comically, they informed the flight crew who then had to ask for permission to return. The below air traffic control video has been captured of the exchange:
If the above is a little difficult to hear, we have managed to highlight the key exchanges.
The exchange starts with the pilot claiming “May God be with us. Can we come back or what?” asking for permission to return to the airport.
The ATC operator then asks what the problem seems to be, with the pilot claiming that a passenger has left their baby behind. The ATC, who did not know protocol in this situation, asked their colleague:
“This flight is requesting to come back…a passenger forgot her baby in the waiting area, the poor thing.”
Not believing that this could be the case (just like we couldn’t believe it when we heard it) the AC supervisor doubled checked with the pilot.
“We told you, a passenger left her baby in the terminal and refuses to continue the flight.”
The ATC then allowed the plane to return to its original gate. After reuniting the mother with her baby, the plane continued on to its final destination 42 minutes behind schedule. It is not known if there was any penalty leveled at the poor, obviously distraught, woman.
Many of the YouTube comments praised the pilot and his crew for their act of humanity, despite it not really being an ’emergency’ according to the general terms for these types of things. But we can imagine that no one would want to continue on a long flight knowing that they left a family member behind, so there really was no choice.
What do you think? Should plane have returned for a missing baby? Does that sound like a loaded question? Let us know in the comments.