British Airways plane evacuated after passengers fall ill from ‘fumes’ on flight

Emergency services raced to meet the aircraft at Heathrow Airport

Benjamin Parker
Monday 09 October 2023 11:12 BST
BA plane passengers evacuated at Heathrow after four fell ill from unknown 'fumes'

A large emergency services operation took place at Heathrow Airport yesterday in response to reports of passengers feeling unwell due to “fumes” detected on a British Airways plane.

Ambulances and firefighters raced to the scene, and pictures shared on social media by affected travellers show staff in white hazmat suits outside the aircraft, which had arrived from Barcelona, Spain.

Metropolitan Police have confirmed that they were called to the aviation hub at 4.15pm after being told there were “passengers taken unwell on a flight”.

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson told The Independent that it sent “a number of resources to the scene”, including three medics in fast-response cars, two advanced paramedics, two ambulance crews, two incident response officers and members of the hazardous area response team

“After assessing multiple people at the scene, we treated three patients and discharged them,” they said.

The “safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority”, said a spokesperson for British Airways, adding that “this aircraft landed normally at Heathrow following reports of a technical issue”.

“Customers disembarked the aircraft safely via steps, and we’ve apologised to them for the delay and inconvenience caused to their journey,” the spokesperson said.

London Fire Brigade confirmed that it were called to the airport following reports of fumes on the aircraft.

“Crews used specialist equipment to carry out a systematic sweep of the aircraft to check for elevated readings of chemical substances. No elevated readings were found.”

Martin Hill, one of the passengers caught up in the incident, wrote on X/Twitter: “Nothing like being locked on a plane with a ‘potential contagion’ for an hour and half with no explanation or information.”

Almost two hours later Mr Hill shared that authorities “finally let us go” and that there “was no contagion in the end.”

Another traveller, James Cheadle, also posted, writing: “No information other than smoke/fumes were detected in the cockpit and some cabin crew have been told to strip after falling ill.”

He added that passengers were “herded into some departure gates.”

In July, a British Airways flight was forced to make a U-turn after only 35 minutes in the air after a “burning smell” reportedly filled the cabin.

The plane had departed Johannesburg, South Africa, and was bound for London Heathrow before it turned around in what was described as a “fume event”.

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