Spirit Airlines Passenger Hospitalized Following Fume Incident

A Spirit Airlines A320 traveling between Seattle and Las Vegas last Tuesday has been reported as suffering a fume event. Eyewitnesses say a smell of ‘wet, dirty socks’ filled the cabin. Originally reported by the AvHerald, the situation led to hospitalization of six people, including several members of crew.

Spirit Airlines
A Spirit flight has suffered a fume event. Photo: Wikimedia

What happened?

The Spirit Airlines flight NK-726 traveling from Seattle to Las Vegas on Tuesday, 16th July. The flight had pushed back on time at 20:13 and departed without issue. The flight was being operated by an Airbus A320-200, registered N634NK and just 4.7 years old.

Although it’s not clear at what point the fumes began to become apparent, no diversion was initiated, suggesting it was in the latter part of the two-hour journey. Pilots kept in touch with ATC, updating them as to the situation on their approach.

Spirit Airlines N634NK
The Spirit plane involved in the event. Photo: Wikimedia

The aircraft landed safely at 22:39, where it was met by paramedics. A number of ambulances arrived and six people, including flight attendants, were stretchered off the aircraft and taken to hospital. Apparently, the cause of the odor is being investigated by maintenance staff.

Spirit Airlines told the Las Vegas Review Journal in an email,

“Safety is our top priority at Spirit Airlines, and our maintenance crew is following up to determine the source of the odor.”

The AvHerald states that N634NK was on the ground for around 10 hours following the incident. However, Flight Radar 24 shows that it continued to work throughout the day of the 16th July, operating flights from Las Vegas to Detroit, Detroit to Houston and Houston to Oakland before the end of the day.

A common problem?

Although fume events do happen from time to time on all sorts of airlines, it seems they happen on Spirit flights rather more frequently.

Early in May, another Spirit Airlines A321 was noted to have a fume related incident. Flight 170 was scheduled to operate from McCarran International to Minneapolis St. Paul, but never took off. Apparently, a noxious smell had filled the cabin, causing people to become ill. Eyewitness reports revealed by MSN said that cabin crew were vomiting and that others were feeling dizzy and nauseous. One passenger and six crew members were reportedly sent to hospital.

Spirit Airlines
It’s not the first time Spirit has had a fume event. Photo: Spirit Airlines

Just days before, a Denver bound flight from Los Angeles had to turn around due to fumes. In this case, one passenger was taken to hospital. And back in February, a Spirit Airlines A319 had to divert to Las Vegas after reports of smoke and fumes in the cabin. In this case, one member of crew suffered a stroke and was admitted to intensive care as a result.

In fact, if we look at the list of incidents recorded by AeroInside, we can see there have been no fewer than 12 incidents relating to ‘odors’ or fumes on board Spirit Airlines flights. The question here is, what’s going on? It seems there is little by way of conclusive evidence as to where the fumes are coming from or indeed what they are.

The airline themselves have previously described them as ‘oil-like’ smells, but passengers reportedly say this is not the case. Some have described the smell as ‘wet socks’, and others simply that it was ‘chemical’ in nature. What is clear is that Spirit have some sort of issue here, and it’s about time they got to the bottom of it.

Have you ever experienced a strange smell on a Spirit aircraft? Let us know in the comments.