Celebrity’s Inflight Diarrhea So Bad People Thought Plane Had A Fuel Leak

A week and a half ago, a Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Barcelona had to turn around after a passenger let loose diarrhea all the way through the aircraft.

Passengers returned to Atlanta and waited while Delta cleaned the aircraft and found a new crew (as the original one timed out). They were sent on their way using the same plane at 2:57 a.m. Saturday morning. Video showed the inside of the aircraft.

I feel badly for the passengers who had to endure that. I feel badly for the cleaners whose job it was to make the plane serviceable in a short amount of time. And I actually feel bad for… the passenger.

Imagine that this happened, you’re sitting in it. And you’re trapped inside a plane with everyone else on board looking at you, disgusted with you, and you’re to blame for their delay – the extra hours they have to sit on a plane, their discomfort. And you have to know that you’re about to experience 15 minutes of fame you never wanted, even if (hopefully) you aren’t named.

As you get off the plane in Atlanta, passengers around you are going to point to you. They’re going to whisper, “that’s the one who…”

Well comedian Margaret Cho shares that something like this actually happened to her on a plane, and it was so bad that passengers thought there was something wrong with the aircraft such as a fuel leak.

@themargaretcho I’ve had it #diarrhea ♬ original sound – themargaretcho

“Diarrhea on a plane? I’ve had it,” she she says.

It came with gas. I kept going up and down and going to the bathroom and then sitting back down. And the smell was so bad, but also not human, that other people near me started to think there was something wrong with the plane.

I’ve never had this happen, but I’ve had food poisoning on a plane – more than once. I ate some bad salmon at the start a Qantas flight years ago, and it hit me during a connection on Alaska Airlines. I also was once in misery on a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK, but fortunately the experience passed by the time I landed stateside.

I have to think that there are some variations of passengers causing discomfort to others as a result of gastrointestinal issues most every single day. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a Ben’s Chili Bowl at Washington’s National airport.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Bad salmon. Wow. Gary, while I have plenty of flight miles booked but not nearly as many as you, I always always, on a flight with a real meal, only eat the cooked and hot chicken or beef only. I avoid anything uncooked, raw, or semi-cooked. Since the beef can be a bit of a mystery sometimes, chicken tends to be the safer choice. If the chicken or beef are too salty, then I am not particularly unhappy as salt is a great preservative that bacteria hate. Extra salt means an extra drink is required for dilution purposes.

  2. The flight only had some stool in the aisle. For that, they could have stopped at JFK or PHL and had a cleaner clean it. Or have the FA’s wear some gloves and wipe it up with paper towels. If FA’s cannot wipe stool, how can you expect them to help us during a major emergency?

  3. @Derek: A “code brown” with flying feces is a significant biohazardous emergency. Thank you, Gary, for your comprehensive report that some Delta Airlines passengers love the smell of diarrhea because it reminds them of the smell of jet fuel or other inhalants. Remember to wash your hands for at least twenty seconds if you are a flight attendant on a poop patrol team handling a diarrhea cleanup.

  4. Frankly. I stress about this. I’ve had a few GI issues while flying fortunately controllable. How mortifying for the poor passenger. Hope recovered from both the illness and the embarrassment.

  5. @KenA So if it an emergency then flying back to ATL is wrong. The closest major airport might have been JFk

  6. @derek, use your brain – this is a liquid that will have soaked into the carpet – wiping with some paper towels won’t fix it.

  7. @ Boraxo:
    As I have had GI issues for many years, I always safeguard myself (and others!) by taking a “Lomotil,” or (generic) “diphenoxylate” before flying anything over 2 hours. Yes, it is an Rx, but any physician will prescribe it; MUCH better than Imodium! I hope this is helpful information to some…

  8. Andy, it will if you use paper towels right away. Don’t think the cleaners used some sort of surgical procedure. They probably did a little more than mop it up.

  9. From what I gather, Delta’s main A350 base is Atlanta. Over Virginia, they were only 90 minutes to Atlanta or JFK. A350 crews are most likely more available in Atlanta, too. The aircraft was moved to the maintenance hanger, stripped of the carpeting, “COVID cleaned” (something Delta pioneered) and sanitized. New carpet was laid down as needed and the jet was returned to service. I’m guessing that there was another A350 at the maintenance hanger that provided the carpet.

  10. Mets Fan; you cracked me up. I thought the same. I don’t think it will ever make a good jet fuel.

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