Passengers on board a Virgin Australia plane said that the aircraft was forced to turn back yesterday after leaking sinks left the cabin smelling "unbearable".
The company denied claims that the Sydney-bound aircraft departing from Los Angeles had to return due to leakage from toilets and said engineers confirmed that the overflow was coming from two sinks.
Travellers claimed that toilet waste was making its way down the aisle and was visible from their seats. However the company said that the assertions are "completely incorrect".
Passenger Julia Malley, talking to New Zealand radio show host Chris Lynch on Newstalk ZB, said: "The bathroom just exploded, I'm not even exaggerating."
Within five minutes of takeoff, the whole plane was filled with an "overwhelming smell" and flight crew announced that they were turning back to Los Angeles three hours into the flight, she said on-air from a hotel room in California.
Flight VA2 was scheduled to continue its journey to the New Zealand city of Christchurch after a stop-off in Sydney but landed back on US soil at 4am local time yesterday morning after departing the night before at 9.50pm.
Passengers were put up in hotels and were hoping to know when they could restart their disrupted journeys by the late afternoon.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said in a statement: "In accordance with standard operating procedures, the Captain made the decision to return to port as a precautionary measure after two of the sinks on board were leaking.
"Reports of human waste in the aisle are incorrect. The safety of the aircraft was never in question."