United Airlines flight diverted after strong odor left passengers feeling ill

Posted at 12:41 PM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-29 12:41:54-04

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – APRIL 18: United Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at San Francisco International Airport on April 18, 2018 in San Francisco, California. United Continental Holdings reported better than expected first quarter earnings with revenue of $9.03 billion compared to analyst expectations of $9.01 billion. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A United Airlines flight made an unscheduled stop at Washington Dulles International Airport on Friday after an odor in the cabin left passengers feeling ill.

Flight 1675 from Baltimore-Washington Airport (BWI) was en route to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), when it landed at Dulles at about 7:45 a.m.

The plane landed without incident, according to a statement from Dulles International Airport. The Fire and Rescue Department responded to the scene and transported seven passengers to local hospitals for evaluation, the statement said.

Raman Santra, one of the passengers on the flight, said a scent of fuel in the cabin caused several passengers to complain of nausea, chest pain and trouble breathing.

“Before takeoff, you could detect a faint smell of fuel, which I thought nothing of,” Santra told CNN. “As we continued to go to cruising altitude, the smell became very strong.”

United Airlines canceled the flight and informed passengers that the aircraft, a Boeing 737, required “prolonged ventilation system maintenance,” Santra said.

Santra’s wife, Jo Palmer, was one of the seven hospitalized because she had more acute symptoms. He said United Airlines representatives offered to take care of her hospital bills and other expenses.

Palmer is doing better now, and the two hope to make it to their friend’s wedding later Friday, Santra said.

United Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The incident did not impact airport operations, Dulles officials said.