On Friday, an international Delta flight bound for sunny Barcelona was forced to U-turn back to its starting point, Atlanta, for an exceedingly rare air travel horror: a passenger had suffered diarrhea throughout the plane’s aisle so extensively that completing the flight was deemed untenable.
News of the incident first hit Reddit’s r/ATC subreddit, to which a user shared alarming FAA flight information marking the ill-fated flight’s decision to turn around.
“DIVERT TO ATL — PASSENGER DIARRHEA ALL OVER A/C,” the flight strip read. “BIOHAZARD.”
The news then trickled to other social media platforms, going mainstream viral on X-formerly-Twitter when another netizen shared a short clip of one of the plane’s pilots’ blunt conversation with air traffic control.
“This is a biohazard issue,” the pilot can be heard saying. “We’ve had a passenger who’s had diarrhea all the way through the airplane, so they want us to come back to Atlanta.”
Yes, diarrhea, all through the airplane. It really did happen, and in an official statement to Insider, a representative for Delta described the incident as an “onboard medical issue,” adding that its 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,” the rep continued, “for the delay and inconvenience to their travel plans.”
We tracked one of the plane’s unlucky passengers down — and they confirmed that the diarrhea was, in fact, “ALL OVER” the cabin aisles, just as that flight strip read.
“I woke up and there was a bit of a strange smell,” the passenger, who chose to remain anonymous while speaking of his Diarrhea Plane experience, told Futurism, adding that the flight attendants were forced to perform some DIY ingenuity to deal with the excrement.
“They found everything they could use,” said the passenger, explaining that the airline staff used aprons to craft “makeshift biohazard suits” to wear while dealing with the defecatory disaster. Blankets and napkins, meanwhile, were utilized to cover the feces.
The airline’s staff “tried to handle it,” said the passenger, but “it was just so bad.”
The passenger also noted their empathy for the person who had the unfortunate accident, explaining that the individual wound up staying in the lavatory until the last few minutes of the flight.
“They just kind of kept [the person] in there,” the passenger added.
You might be imagining that Delta obviously just got these travelers a new plane, right? After all, this one was covered in human feces. But alas, there seemingly weren’t enough jets to go around, and according to the passenger, the airline ultimately settled the issue by simply ripping out the Airbus’ soiled carpets and giving the passenger plane an extra-thorough clean before reboarding it.
“They actually took out all the carpets for one section of it,” the passenger said. “We were waiting three hours at the airport while they were trying to clean it, but they couldn’t clean it, so they had to rip off the carpet and change it.”
“Then we were back on,” they added. “No problem.”
The passenger also noted that the plane’s staff fully switched over for the second flight attempt, which we’re glad to hear. Anyone who’s forced to make a biohazard suit out of aprons and proceeds to manage an in-flight diarrhea crisis for the next several hours deserves some time off, not to mention a raise.
Fortunately, the passenger said, the flight’s second go-round went off without a hitch.
“It was just so late, we passed out,” the passenger recounted. “No issues after that, but it was certainly an ordeal.”
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