A transatlantic American Airlines flight was forced to change course and land in Dublin after spilled cleaning fluids sickened crew and passengers.
Flight 729, which was heading from London to Philadelphia with 287 passengers and 12 crew members, landed instead in Dublin at 1:15 p.m. local time Monday, according to the airline.
“We’re gonna taxi to whatever gate we can find, and we require paramedics to come onboard the airplane and render immediate assistance,” one of the pilots told air traffic control, according to audio obtained from the LiveATC.net site and tweeted by the Airport Webcams account. American confirmed the audio was from the flight but did not identify the speaker.
In the back-and-forth between the plane and ground, the pilot said that two members of the crew in the cabin had “actually lost consciousness.” He said he thought they were conscious at that point but that there were other complaints about burning eyes, running noses and skin issues.
American would not discuss the condition of anyone on the plane for privacy reasons. The company said in an email that two crew members and one customer had been taken to the hospital to be evaluated.
A woman who tweeted that she was headed to a sports championship in Florida gave an update a few hours later: “Ok, so this hasn’t quite gone to plan. Chemical spillage has led to sickness outbreak and an emergency landing in Dublin.”
According to the pilot, the substance that spilled was an aircraft cleaner and deodorizer that had been used at the airport in London and left on the plane, where it seeped into the carpet. Although he told air traffic control it had spilled in a lavatory, the airline said the spill was in the galley.
Late Monday morning, an American spokesperson said by email that the airline was investigating what happened and evaluating the plane.
Meanwhile, some passengers in Ireland were complaining about their unexpected holdup.
“There aren’t even chairs, we’re not allowed to leave this area where we’re penned in like cattle, and we’ve not been fed by the likes of you since boarding four plus hours ago,” one man wrote on Twitter, including a photo of people mostly standing around with luggage. “You’re the worst.”