An American Airlines flight to Bridgetown, Barbados was forced to turn back to Miami on Wednesday evening and make an emergency landing after a strange chemical odor from a passenger’s carry-on bag made some of the flight attendants sick.
American Airlines flight AA338 was halfway between the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos when it suddenly turned around and returned to Miami International Airport where it was sent to the ‘penalty box’ to be met by the emergency services.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department confirmed it sent units to the scene and some of the crew members were taken to the hospital because they felt sick from the odor.
An American Airlines spokesperson said the Boeing 737 aircraft had 172 passengers and six crew members onboard. The airline said the flight was diverted because of a “chemical odor in the cabin caused by the contents of a customer’s carry-on luggage”.
“The aircraft landed safely and without incident, and customers deplaned normally, the statement continued.
Some of the crew were taken to a local hospital “out of an abundance of caution,” the spokesperson added.
In October 2019, an American Airlines flight from London Heathrow to Philadelphia was forced to divert to Shannon in Ireland after the crew reported a strong chemical smell onboard which became so bad that two flight attendants passed out.
The flight attendants are said to have quickly regained consciousness but along with several passengers complained of eye irritation and coughing.
American Airlines said a cleaning team had accidentally left a bottle of industrial-strength cleaning solution in a lavatory and it tipped over during takeoff and soaked the carpets.
The cleaning solution was CH2200D, and its main ingredient is ammonium chloride, which can cause symptoms such as skin and respiratory irritation.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t keep a record of ‘smoke, odor or fume’ (SOF) events but in the 12 months from January to December 2019, American Airlines is said to have reported a total of 1,644 SOF events.
In January, two Alaska Airlines flight attendants were sent to the hospital after they were taken unwell from a strong chemical odor on a flight from Seattle to San Jose.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.