Sunday, January 01, 2017

British Airways crew were left 'vomiting, dizzy and confused' after suspected 'toxic fumes' leaked into the cabin during flight

British Airways crew were left 'vomiting, dizzy and confused' after suspected 'toxic fumes' leaked into the cabin during a long-haul flight.

The London-bound Airbus A380 'superjumbo' was thousands of feet up in the sky when the cabin crew suddenly fell ill and needed to use emergency oxygen supplies.

A leaked internal report on the disturbing alert has now detailed how flight attendants became 'spaced out' – wandering around 'lost' on the plane and 'stuffing' food into their mouths while wearing oxygen masks.

Cabin crew union Unite last night said the new details were 'deeply concerning' and criticized British Airways for 'downplaying' the incident.

The airline said no fault had been found with the plane, but yesterday did not reveal what had caused the scare on the flight from San Francisco on October 25.

The report, written by the flight's cabin service director, described how around 40 minutes after take-off the crew noticed a potent noxious smell like burning plastic.

The captain declared an emergency and told air traffic control the problem was 'toxic gas-type fumes'.

The flight was diverted to Vancouver, Canada, where all the double-decker plane' s flight attendants and three pilots were taken to hospital.

The new report, seen by the Sunday Times, said the smell was detected by a door in the main cabin and on the upper deck of the 850-capacity aircraft.

It reads: 'It soon became apparent that more crew were behaving in a non-normal manner ... [with] reports of dizziness, light heads, headaches, nausea, itchy red eyes, metallic taste in mouth, floating-type feelings, flushed, aggression and, most worryingly, forgetfulness and confusion, inability to think straight and converse in normal manner.'

The document also revealed senior flight attendants had 'lost' colleagues who had ended up at the other end of the aircraft 'not knowing how they got there'.

Crew were seen 'in corners on [the] floor with blankets over their heads' and also 'stuffing food' in their mouths while on oxygen'.

The report said 12 crew members showed worrying symptoms, while nine staff – including the captain – used emergency oxygen.

It also said crew members had continued to feel ill after leaving hospital – with one collapsing and vomiting at Heathrow.

One crew member on the flight told how staff were 'sobbing' during a debriefing session at Heathrow while some were still off work.

Show business publicist Ciara Parkes, who was also on the flight, said the crew appeared so panicked that she thought they were being hijacked, adding: 'I think that's probably the most terrified I've been in my life.'

She said some passengers had bloodshot eyes while her chest became 'incredibly tight' and she struggled to stand. She said she had suffered from regular headaches ever since.

But British Airways, which has described the incident as an 'odour event', yesterday did not have an explanation for what happened.

A spokesman said: 'Our highly-skilled engineers inspected the aircraft in Vancouver and carried out further tests on its flight back to London. No fault was found.

'The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority. We have shared our detailed and thorough investigation with the CAA and fully comply with all safety regulations.'

Unite, the union that represents cabin crew members, yesterday called for further investigation into the scare and the wider threat of 'contaminated air' on flights.

A spokesman said: 'This deeply concerning account raises further serious questions over why the airline sought to downplay the incident as a mere 'odour event'.

'That none of the relevant civil aviation authorities have seen fit to investigate what was clearly a serious toxic fume event is equally astonishing.

'Fume events and continued exposure to contaminated air on board aircraft is a long standing problem which cannot be simply swept under the carpet by British Airways and the wider industry.'

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