It’s an uncomfortable, all-too-familiar predicament: You have to use the toilet but there isn’t one in sight. It just normally doesn’t happen thousands of feet in the air.

On Dec. 2, a Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Seattle was forced to divert hundreds of miles for an emergency bathroom break in Billings, Mont., because of problems with the plane’s toilets, according to the Aviation Herald, which reports flight and aviation incidents worldwide.

A Delta spokesman confirmed in a statement that the crew of Delta flight 453, which took off from New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, chose to stop in Billings during its approximately six-hour trip “after receiving an indication of an issue with the aircraft lavatories.”

The Aviation Herald reported that after the toilets stopped working, passengers began lining up and indicating that they needed to use the bathroom.

The flight diverted south to the Billings Logan International Airport and landed there just after 6 p.m., according to Because a gate wasn’t available, the airplane taxied to a cargo area, where a stairway was rolled to the airplane so passengers could “disembark to find relief of built-up pressures,” the Aviation Herald reported.

Ground crew members in Billings led the passengers into the airport terminal, Kevin Ploehn, the airport’s director, told the Billings Gazette. The plane’s toilets were fixed in the meantime, and the plane was refueled so that it could take off again.

A Delta spokesman said in a statement that the flight landed “without incident” and that the issue was resolved before the plane took off for Seattle.

“Delta apologizes for the inconvenience,” the spokesman said.

The plane was delayed for about 3½ hours in total, according to the Aviation Herald.

Ploehn told the Billings Gazette that while flights  are diverted to the airport on occasion, it’s rare for them to stop to let passengers use the bathroom.

“I’ve heard of flights getting diverted . . . because toilets overflowed and that blue water was rolling down the aisle,” Ploehn said. “That can’t be very pleasant.”

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