American’s Boeing 777-300ERs have 12 lavatories. The line from one of those lavatories was clogged, and it’s a system connected to three other lavatories. American Airlines confirms four of the lavatories – or one third – were out of commission on American Airlines flight 20 from Dallas Fort-Worth to London Heathrow on Christmas Day.
Flight attendants determined that passengers congregating near the remaining lavatories was a security issue, and the aircraft was forced to divert.
- They were about 4 hours into an 8.5 hour flight
- It took 2 hours to get back to New York JFK
Passengers were given hotel rooms in New York. Some were rebooked. American’s Boeing 777-300ERs have a capacity of 304, but fewer than 140 passengers are on board today’s replacement flight with a new aircraft.
This just seems silly. With no working lavatories it makes sense to divert, though I’d hope they would divert some place closer than JFK even if they don’t have as much maintenance capability. (As I write this they’re still trying to isolate whatever got flushed down the toilet and remove it.)
However with 8 working lavatories, on a redeye flight, the prudent thing would be to push forward. If there was a real concern about passengers congregating then make an announcement and deal with those passengers ignoring flight attendant instructions.
Even then the notion that this is a security concern — an elaborate scheme by terrorists to clog the lavatory so that congregating near the galley would be seen as normal, in a ruse to gain the upper hand over flight crew — seems an incredible stretch. Richard Reid will be forever known as the shoe bomber, this would have been The Christmas Lavatory Plot.
Back in September American continued a Hawaii flight with only one working lavatory and that one “was overflowing” after a passenger flushed a diaper down the toilet.
"What do you mean I have to pee in a bag?" Cellphone video taken aboard an American Airlines flight from Arizona to Hawaii last week appears to show a flight attendant telling a passenger that they should urinate in a plastic bag: https://t.co/anC6N6HY7Q pic.twitter.com/tud3rKzXji
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) September 6, 2018
A flushed diaper caused a United flight to cancel in 2014 too. Quit flushing diapers down lavatory toilets, people.