An American Airlines flight from London Heathrow Airport to LAX on Wednesday was turned around after around seven crew members and “several passengers” were hit by a mysterious illness.
American Airlines Flight AA109 was reportedly close to Keflavik in southwest Iceland when the panic began. As people began to fall ill, passengers were asked if there was a doctor on board. Soon afterwards, passengers reportedly started to panic as more people fell ill with the mysterious ailment.
— Mashable (@mashable) January 28, 2016
There were reports of passengers shocked to see flight attendants collapse in the aisles, which sparked fear there may be contamination in the air conditioning on the plane.
One passenger on the flight, Lee Gunn, described the experience to the Mirror Online, saying it was around two and a half hours into the flight, just as the plane was passing Iceland, that a Tannoy announcement was heard, asking for any doctors, nurses or medical professionals on board to head to the boarding doors to help unwell passengers.
Gunn said the lights then came on in the cabin and “there was lots of commotion.”
“I’m a bit of a plane geek myself so thought ‘here we go, Reykjavik here we come’ but it was announced about 20 minutes after we were going to divert back to LHR.
“It was also reported that seven of the crew — 13 on board in total I believe — had fallen ill, along with ‘many’ passengers.”
While the illness is unknown at this time, Gunn tweeted that passengers appeared to be “suffering with equilibrium.”
Several crew and several passengers suffering with equilibrium, scheduled time of arrival in LHR is 5pm @flightradar24
— Lee Gunn (@gunn_lee) January 27, 2016
The Independent quotes another passenger, Alan Gray as saying: “One of the flight attendants was walking down the aisle when she collapsed. Then up to six other cabin crew members said they felt light-headed and as though they were going to faint.”
According to Gray, this was the moment when the plane’s captain decided to turn the plane around, saying he wasn’t willing to take the risk of continuing without the crew to manage the flight.
“It was just a bit mad. We didn’t really know what was going on.”
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) January 28, 2016
Reportedly, the decision to abort the flight was taken at around 2:50 p.m. A spokesman for American Airlines said there had been a “medical emergency” and that there were people on the flight who had taken ill, but gave no further information.
Shortly afterwards, the flight landed at London Heathrow Airport, five hours after it originally took off from there, and the plane was surrounded by paramedics and fire crews.
— Lee Gunn (@gunn_lee) January 27, 2016
It is believed that the passengers’ luggage from the flight may have been retained for checks by the airline.
In a statement from American Airlines, a spokesperson said: “American Airlines Flight AA 109, a Boeing 777-300, operating to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from London Heathrow, is returning to Heathrow due to a medical emergency.”
“The aircraft departed London Heathrow at 1205 local time and is expected to land at Heathrow at 1700 local time.”
The airline went on to apologize to their customers for the inconvenience caused to their travel plans.
As for the patients, London ambulance crews reportedly checked six patients at the airport who were still feeling unwell and discharged them at the scene, so the illness remains a mystery.
This isn’t the only time American Airlines has been in the news recently, as multiple injuries were reported when a plane was forced to land in Newfoundland after encountering extreme turbulence while on its way from Miami to Milan.
Another report on the Inquisitr tells the story of a flight by a South African airline, FlySafair, where the plane suddenly went into a nosedive for an emergency landing, terrifying the passengers on board, after losing cabin pressure.
While they say flying is one of the safest methods of travel, it does make a person wonder.