Chemical spill forces transatlantic flight from London to divert

A transatlantic flight from London was forced to divert to Dublin after two members of the cabin crew were overcome by a chemical spillage.

The American Airlines flight to Philadelphia left Heathrow just after 11am yesterday but was re-routed to the Irish capital after two hours when two stewardesses fainted and passengers complained about a burning sensation in their eyes.

A cleaning agent used at the airport is understood to have been left in one of the lavatories and spilt, causing a strong odour to spread through the cabin as the substance seeped through the carpet.

The Airbus A330 had been diverted for a “medical emergency”, a Dublin airport spokeswoman said.

Passenger Pete Shaw said the flight had initially been delayed by an hour as crew attempted to locate the source of a chemical smell.

He told The Times: “The captain told us that we were being delayed because some of the keen-nosed among us could smell something strange coming from the back of the plane.

“When we took off it became much worse and the people at the back of the plane were clearly struggling, with soaked tissues being handed out for people to put over their mouths.

“Two air stewardesses who had fainted came and sat next to us in the middle of the plane to recover. They looked like they’d had a pretty tough time.”

American Airlines said the flight had been rescheduled to leave Dublin on Tuesday morning and that all passengers had been offered free hotel rooms for the night.

A spokesman for the airline said: “American Airlines Flight 729 from London Heathrow to Philadelphia diverted to Dublin due to an odour caused by a spilt cleaning solution in the galley.

“The flight landed safely in Dublin at 1.15pm local time, and taxied to the gate.”

Medical personnel met the aircraft to evaluate any crew members or passengers who may have needed additional assistance, he added.

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