Food Poisoning Diverts Holiday Flight


Life imitated art over Maine in mid-October when a first officer on a TUI Airways Boeing 787 was felled by suspected food poisoning. The aircraft, which was on a charter flight from Doncaster in the U.K. to Melbourne, Florida (used by some holiday charters as a cheaper alternative to Orlando), had only two pilots for the 8.5-hour trip so procedures demanded a diversion. The captain, with a flight attendant flying shotgun, headed for Bangor, Maine, with controllers so anxious to help one offered to read the captain the ATIS. He declined, having already dialed it in.

The landing was uneventful, the FO was taken to a local hospital and accommodations were found for 300 surprise visitors in the city of 31,000, which has the runway for a heavy jet thanks to the former Strategic Air Command base on the outskirts of town. TUI operates one flight a day to Melbourne from a different city in the U.K. The folks on the Birmingham flight the next day also made a stop in Bangor to drop off a fresh crew to get the Doncaster flight on its way. 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Years ago on a non stop B747-236 from London to Narita (Tokyo) an augmented crew, Captain and two First Officers, gave time in the crew rest bunks behind the flight deck for each pilot in turn to rest during the 10hr 30 min sector. Sadly, the Captain died while asleep in his bunk, over half way enroute. The two experienced First Officers called for medical help, provided by a passenger who was a medical doctor, and confirmed the death. The decision to continue was made as the alternate was to divert to a remote airfield in the the Soviet Union with 300+ unwilling passengers and crew. The flight continued to Tokyo where a safe arrival was made.

  2. This is not news. I’ve been on 2 flights with food poisoning of a flight crew member. One was me, the Captain, fortunately we were close to final and we did not divert. The other we diverted into ORD (headed to Frankfurt) and they found another crew to continue as we went illegal and went back to DFW.

  3. “From there, the poison goes to work on the central nervous system, causing severe muscle spasms, followed by the inevitable drooling. At this point the entire digestive system collapses, accompanied by uncontrollable flatulence until finally the poor bastard is reduced to a quivering, wasted, piece of jelly.”