Delta Airbus A350 Makes… Smelly Return to Atlanta!

By Spyros Georgilidakis | September 5, 2023

A Delta Air Lines crew decided to return their Airbus A350 to Atlanta, after a case of diarrhea, which had consequences for more passengers.

This incident happened on the 1st of September this year – or early on the 2nd, if we go by UTC time. It involved Delta Air Lines flight DL-194, departing from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International (KATL). Its destination was Barcelona El Prat Airport (LEBL).

Delta Airbus A350 Makes… Smelly Return to Atlanta!
Photo: Lukas Souza

This is a flight that Delta performs daily with an Airbus A350, departing from Atlanta at 6:40 PM. The flight typically takes around eight hours. We don’t know how many people boarded the incident flight last Friday.

The flight departed Atlanta normally, using runway 09L, climbing to FL370 for its cruise. But around 45 minutes into the flight, just 10 minutes after reaching cruise altitude, the Delta Airbus A350 started a left turn, heading back to Atlanta.

Delta Airbus A350 Makes… Smelly Return to Atlanta!
Photo: Delta News Hub, CC BY 2.0

Delta Airbus A350 Makes A Hurried Return

When asked by air traffic control about the reason for their return, a Delta pilot explained that a passenger had suffered from diarrhea. And unfortunately, the unlucky passenger didn’t make it to one of the toilets, in time.

The pilot told ATC that the passenger’s… problem went “all the way through the airplane”, creating a biohazard. People who claimed to be passengers on the flight said on social media that the crew tried to use scented disinfectant. But this just wasn’t up to the job.

Had the Delta pilots decided to press on to Barcelona, their Airbus A350 and its passengers would have to stay in the air for at least seven more hours. They decided not to. The flight landed safely back in Atlanta, just over an hour after turning around.

Photo: Jean Cont

After spending around five hours on the ground in Atlanta, the same aircraft departed again for Barcelona, with the same flight number. It stayed in regular service in the days that followed. This particular Airbus A350 is 7 years old, but Delta isn’t its first operator.

The jet initially entered service with LATAM, who withdrew it from service in September 2020. Delta put it into service about a year later. LATAM went through bankruptcy during the pandemic, so it had to get out of leasing contracts for a number of jets. Delta picked up seven of LATAM’s A350s.



  • My daughter in law suffered a similar problem on an 11 hour flight from Maldives to UK. She did not soil the cabin but did permanently occupy one of the toilets. The cabin crew were asking passengers if they had any diocalm in their cabin bags, but alas not. I asked why they did not have any in their first aid kit. They said they do, but if they break the seal on the first aid kit, it will have to be exchanged for refurbishment at the next landing and it will cost the airline 2000 GB Pounds. As no-one was carrying diocalm they did break the seal and no other passengers were inconvenienced. Expensive for a couple of diocalm tabs…

  • The decision to turn around in this case is correct. Eight hours in this environment would result in mass sickness and a voyage where everyone would rather forget. Fortunately in the future this event will make a hilarious party story, especially for the poor victim.

  • Or maybe skit!

  • Merde!

  • As I heard the passengers are all right, but there’s unfortunately one fatal.
    The man who prepared the food, (or his manager idk) ended his life bc of this.

  • I think that was the best to do, return to Atlanta. I hope the passenger is well.

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