In what may be one of the most unusual incidents to ever disrupt an international flight, a Delta flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Barcelona, Spain had to turn around mid-flight. The reason? A passenger onboard suffered from an extreme bout of diarrhea, creating what the pilots called a “biohazard” situation.
Flight DL194 was cruising over Virginia after taking off from Georgia at 8:47 p.m. on Friday, September 1. Everything seemed normal until the unthinkable happened.
A text message sent to Air Traffic Control by the captain was remarkably straightforward about the crisis: “Divert to ATL — passenger diarrhea all over aircraft — biohazard.”
An unidentified man “had diarrhea all the way through the plane.” A viral video showed that the excrement was literally down the “entire” aisle.
We have official footage from the Barcelona diarrhea plane pic.twitter.com/81e1ZQnKMN
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 5, 2023
Air traffic control audio recordings reveal the pilot confirming the problem: “This is a biohazard issue… It’s just a biohazard issue, we had a passenger who had diarrhea all the way through the airplane so they want us to come back to Atlanta.”
A Delta Airlines Airbus A350 turned around back to Atlanta Friday night because of diarrhea throughout the airplane from a passenger and it’s a biohazard. 👀🥴
The FAA flight strip for DL194 was posted to Reddit (📷xStang05x) Also a passenger posted here asking why her son’s… pic.twitter.com/VWbkB47wF1
— Thenewarea51 (@thenewarea51) September 3, 2023
After the plane landed, a Herculean effort was required to make the Airbus A350 flight-ready again. According to Daily Mail, the entire carpet had to be replaced. Ground crews spent five hours in a thorough cleanup operation.
Per the New York Post, “Cleaning crews were able to scrub down the aircraft once it landed in Atlanta since flight records show it was used for another flight.”
Understandably distressed passengers took to social media to share their unbelievable experiences.
John Hurdt wrote, “Both my wife and I were on the flight. It was a mess. The pilots made the right decision to turn around. The ground crew ripped out the carpet and put new in. Considering the circumstances, the ground crew did a great job, along the attendants and the pilots.”
Dee W also wrote, “My partner was on that flight! It was pretty bad. It was dribbled down the aisle, smelled horrible. The vanilla scented disinfectant used on it only made it smell like vanilla s***. After the plane landed, it was thoroughly cleaned. They didn’t leave until around 2:30 am.”
A spokesperson for Delta noted that the flight eventually landed in Barcelona at 5:16 p.m. the following day. It is unclear whether the individual rejoined the flight to Barcelona or sought medical attention upon arrival in Atlanta.
“Our teams worked as quickly and safely as possible to thoroughly clean the airplane and get our customers to their final destination. We sincerely apologize to our customers for the delay and inconvenience to their travel plans,” the statement from Delta read.