A Delta flight from Atlanta to Barcelona had to return to its origin because a passenger suffered a severe bout of diarrhea which "ran all the way through the plane." The Airbus A350 plane had been flying for two hours on a transatlantic route from Georgia to Spain on a Friday when the pilot requested to return due to the incident involving fecal matter.
In a brief text message sent to Air Traffic Control, the captain succinctly described the issue as follows: "Divert to ATL -- passenger diarrhea all over aircraft – biohazard." The situation was distressing for both passengers and crew and some with knowledge of the incident posted to social media.
"This is a biohazard issue," the pilot said to air traffic control recorded from LiveATC.com and shared on X. "We've had a passenger who's had diarrhea all the way through the airplane, so they want us to come back to Atlanta."
The passenger's identity remains a mystery, but both passengers and crew were relocated, and Flight DL194 eventually arrived in Barcelona at 5:10 pm the following day, eight hours later than the originally scheduled arrival time, as reported by Flightradar24.
It remains unclear whether the passenger with the diarrhea issue was still on board when the plane landed in Spain.
An apparent Federal Aviation Authority flight strip was shared on Reddit, seemingly confirming that the situation indeed involved a "biohazard" situation all over the plane.
Upon landing in Atlanta, cleaning crews were able to thoroughly clean the aircraft, as flight records indicated it was scheduled for another flight.
Delta officials did confirm the presence of a "medical issue" on the plane, which necessitated the diversion to Atlanta for cleaning, as reported by Insider. However, the specific medical reason was not provided by the company.
Several passengers and some with knowledge of the incident posted to social media elaborating on the situation. "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," wrote Dee W.
"The flight was met by emergency vehicles and EMTs carried the sick passenger off the plane.
"My partner said the plane was cleaner when they got back on at 2 am than it was the first time they got on. No smell either."
Another passenger who was on the Airbus A350 aircraft also commended the effectiveness of the cleanup operation.
"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," wrote John Hurdt.
"Our teams worked as quickly and safely as possible to thoroughly clean the airplane and get our customers to their final destination," a Delta spokesperson said. "We sincerely apologize to our customers for the delay and inconvenience to their travel plans."
Delta passengers faced a challenging week in the air, with another flight bound for Milan, Italy, having to be diverted to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on August 29 due to severe turbulence, which resulted in injuries to 11 passengers.