AA Mystery – Why LHR-LAX Flight Diverted Back to LHR While over Iceland – 1,180 Miles and 3 Hours Away

by Adam

Many publications are still asking why American Airlines flight 109 from London Heathrow to LAX diverted all the way back to LHR after a mystery illness struck the crew and several passengers. The plane was above Keflavik, Iceland when the captain made the decision to return the plane back 1,180 miles to London, a trip that’s almost 3 hours.

UK Mirror Online:

“As the unidentified disease spread through the jet, causing one flight attendant to collapse in the middle of the aisle, passengers were forced to spend nearly three hours on the return flight, not knowing what was causing crew members and other fliers to fall ill, or whether it would strike them next.”

“Lee Gunn, who was on board the flight, told the Mirror Online: “About 2.5 hours into the flight just as we were passing Iceland we had an announcement asking for any doctors, nurses or medical professionals on board to report to the boarding doors to assist with unwell passengers. The lights then came on in the cabin and there was lots of commotion. It was also reported that 7 of the crew – 13 on board in total I believe – had fallen ill, along with ‘many’ passengers.”

DM Online:

“A passenger on the flight, Alan Gray, revealed how fliers also thought it was ‘a bit strange’ that the plane was heading back to London after crew members and passengers began to feel light-headed. “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,” “It was at that point the captain said he was turning the plane around. He said he wasn’t willing to take the risk to keep going and hadn’t got the crew to do it. “Then three passengers became really unwell too, and a few others were turning a bit pale. “It was a bit strange we didn’t just land in Iceland.”

The New York Times speculates that it could be another case of engine fumes leaking into the cabin causing aerotoxic syndrome, which would make the almost 3 hour diversion even stranger:

“Although it remained unclear what had caused people on board to become ill, dizziness and loss of consciousness are among a range of symptoms that have been associated in the past with jet engine fumes leaking into the cabin.”

Meanwhile, Iceland Monitor asks:

“What is equally baffling at this stage is why, with six crew members ill, the flight crew decided – after having declared a medical emergency – not to land at nearby Keflavík International Airport (KEF) but to make the almost four-hour journey back to London.”

FlightRadar24 LHR-LHR

Photo: Twitter – @flig­htra­dar24

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MilesMath January 28, 2016 - 5:04 pm

My guess is AA does not have facilities at KEF and wanted to go back to an airport where they could more easily get another aircraft. However, DUB, GLA or MAN would have all been closer than LHR.

I’m not sure how they were comfortable the pilots wouldn’t be affected, but maybe they had masks ready just in case.

Everybody Hates A Tourist January 28, 2016 - 7:10 pm

I read this 3 times expecting some kind of actual explanation. Your headline is misleading, since you imply that you actually have an answer, rather than being just as clueless as everyone else.

Deltahater January 28, 2016 - 9:17 pm

The previous poster is spot on. I was looking forward to insight, rather than copy and paste of general cluelessness.

Not really a good article.

Tom January 28, 2016 - 11:15 pm

Please get a life people and do something other than spending your time critiquing a blog entry. I had not heard about this before the post and appreciated it.

A 2nd American 777 Diverts for Light-Headed Crew & Passengers - Point Me to the Plane January 30, 2016 - 10:38 am

[…] See: AA Mystery – Why LHR-LAX Flight Diverted Back to LHR While over Iceland – 1,180 Miles and 3 Hour… […]


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