LONDON, Jan 28, 2016:
A London to Los Angeles flight was forced to turn back to Heathrow after an airborne emergency which saw several passengers and crew struck down by a mystery illness.
The aircraft, a Boeing 777 with 188 passengers and crew on board, was already southwest of Iceland when the decision was taken to divert the plane back to Heathrow, rather than landing at Keflavik, according to The Telegraph.
On landing at Heathrow, luggage was taken away for inspection without explanation.
One member of the cabin crew fainted and five others complained of feeling unwell as did up to three passengers. Alan Gray, 41, a passenger on the flight said he saw a flight attendant collapse.
“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,” Gray said.
The plane was given an escort as it taxied back to the terminal at Heathrow.
“When we landed there were police cars, ambulances and firefighters who escorted us down the runway and then we were held for 45 minutes before docking,” Gray added.
“Eventually, when we did dock, there was only one person who came on and he was monitoring the air.”
A spokesman for American Airlines said the decision to return to London, which was more than 1,000km away, rather than land in Iceland was taken by the cabin crew.
The aircraft landed back at Heathrow shortly after 5pm where passengers were evaluated by paramedics. None required additional medical help.
There were reports that those who fell ill complained of a loss of equilibrium.