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The Plane Filled With Smoke. Weeks Later, Passengers Are Ill

They say they are having breathing problems; British Airways still not sure of cause
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2019 2:05 PM CDT
This Jan. 10, 2017 file photo shows British Airways planes parked at Heathrow Airport in London.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

(Newser) – In early August, a British Airways plane en route to Valencia filled up with smoke shortly before landing. Two months later, passengers from BA422 say they still have breathing problems. One woman says she now gets breathless walking uphill; another says he often struggles to breathe and has sores in his throat. Says a third passenger, who is also having breathing issues, "I want to know, first of all, what did we breathe in? Was the plane maintained properly? Should it have been in the air?" The passengers say the smoke had an "acrid" or "chemical" smell. The airline says it is awaiting results from a Spanish air accident investigation, and insists it would never operate an aircraft that could carry with it "any health or safety risk." Per a Mirror report at the time, the plane made an emergency landing but oxygen masks never deployed.

Multiple similar, but not as severe, incidents have been reported on other BA flights since then. As the BBC explains, they have been reported as potential "fume events," but none has yet been confirmed as one. In one incident, the crew reported a "damp smell" and a report states that after the pilots took off their oxygen masks on arrival, the first officer vomited twice and the captain ended up getting medical attention the next morning for a bad headache. On another recent flight, the crew detected a similar smell that continued getting worse, resulting in the plane being diverted. And in yet another incident, the flight crew was taken to a hospital after the possible fume event. So far, no evidence suggests the incidents are connected, and BA says such events can be related to "burnt food in the oven, aerosols and e-cigarettes, strongly-smelling food in cabin bags, and de-icing fluid." (Read more British Airways stories.)

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