The Most Bizarre Reasons For Plane Turn-Arounds

22 March 2015
Read Time: 2.0 mins

A plane was recently forced to turn around because of a smelly poo. This isn't the first nor will it be the last ridiculous reason for a plane diverting course.

In this modern age of plane travel, where flights run more efficiently than ever before, there are more and more occurrences of unexpected detours due to onboard mishaps as crazy as the above. We take a look at other unusual reasons pilots have decided to head back.

Toilet Trials

The latest incident involving a smelly poo is not the first lavatory-related mishap that has caused a plane to turn around. Last year, a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney had to return to its US departure point three hours after take-off due to a problem with the fresh water overflow system.

 A lavatory-related mishap is the last thing you want to happen in the air. Picture: Getty Images

At least one passenger claimed they had to sit next to waste. Julia Malley told a New Zealand radio programme that "we could see it [human waste] go through the aisles, it was very obvious".

A spokesperson for the airline said at the time that the onboard toilets operated on a “completely separate drainage system” and because the issue was with a sink, there was “no incident of leaked human waste".

Nut Rage

One of last year’s more unusual travel stories involved a plane returning to the gate following an air executive’s alleged fury at being served macadamia nuts from a packet while travelling in First Class. She was also found guilty of obstructing aviation safety in February this year after the incident in December, when she became outraged at her snack appearing in a packet, instead of on a plate.

 Don't go nuts over in-flight nuts. Picture: Getty Images

The former head of in-flight service is said to have insulted flight attendants by shouting and forcing them to kneel before her as the plane taxied down the runway at New York airport, forcing the plane to return to the gate to change staff.

Desperate Measures

In 2011, the corpulent French actor Gerard Depardieu caused a Dublin-bound plane to return to the stand after urinating on board. The star of Jean de Florette relieved himself in front of other passengers when staff refused him entry to the toilets, as the plane was preparing for take-off and passengers were required to remain seated.

The actor later apologised for the incident, which saw him removed from the aircraft when it returned to the gate. The rest of the passengers later took off with a two-hour delay.

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Tannoy Talk

A flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Chicago in 2012 had to return to the gate after a flight attendant made “inflammatory” remarks over the tannoy system just before take-off. A passenger on board the flight told ABC News that the member of cabin crew had said “hey pilot, I'm not going to be responsible for your crash”, before the microphone could be taken from her.

Smelly Work

Passengers of a national airline suffered four turn-arounds in 48 hours last year, according to the Guardian. Reasons for the disrupted flights included an unusual smell, problems with the in-flight entertainment system, and issues with the airconditioning system.

 All manner of dramas can cause headaches for passengers. Picture: Getty Images

In 2013, a plane en route to Frankfurt had to be diverted to Copenhagen because of a strong odour emitted by a recently-installed carpet.


This article was written by Lizzie Porter from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Lizzie Porter

Lizzie Porter is a Content Editor on Telegraph Travel. Her favourite destinations are the Middle East and France, and top of her "to-do" list is diving in French Polynesia. Her interests are varied, going from hiking and coasteering to advising on travel fashion and beauty. You can follow her on Twitter: @lcmporter.