Delta Flight Diverts So Passengers Could Use Bathroom After Blue Water Runs Down Aisle

Saturday’s Delta flight DL453 from New York JFK to Seattle didn’t make it all the way across country without kids yelling at dad they needed to get off the freeway for a potty break. The pilot landed in Billings, Montana. But there was no gate available.

Toilets on the Boeing 757 had “ceased functioning, with passengers queuing up and indicating they needed to visit the toilet.”

But, because a gate was not available, the airplane had to taxi to a cargo area where pilots were again told there were several “passengers that needed to find a lavatory very urgently.”

Ground crews rolled a stairway to the airplane so passengers could “disembark to find relief of built-up pressures,” the Delta report said.


Delta Boeing 757, Copyright: zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo

While on the ground the plane was refueled and the toilets serviced. The Billing’s airport’s Director of Aviation reported that the Delta 757’s “toilets overflowed and that blue water was rolling down the aisle.”

The aircraft arrived in Seattle approximately 3.5 hours after its originally scheduled time.

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. Our Delta flight home from Thanksgiving had a similar problem. Before the flight there was blue liquid leaking from the bathroom so they had maintenance come and change a valve. We were on the next to last row so I had a good view. That seemed to fix it but upon landing the blue liquid was coming out again. Thankfully we didn’t have to divert!

  2. Delta has some of oldest damn airplanes in the Skies and yet people think They are so wonderful. Talk about “Lipstick on a Pig”……you can only refurbish only so much. And do not even get Me started on the POS airplane Delta calls the 717…..Just Newer Garbage than their 40year old DC9s!

  3. @RF: They’re VERY pleased with their old aircraft. Even with incidents such as this, these older aircraft are very reliable, and more importantly, are known variables. The 787 binliner continues to have new, unexpected issues come up.

    All aircraft will break. It’s a machine with millions of individual pieces that’s run hard for 12-20 hours a day. The biggest advantage with older aircraft is that patterns emerge and you can anticipate and prevent many failures through preventative maintenance. When something DOES break on an older aircraft, the mechanics have likely seen the failure before, parts are often on-hand, and they can fix it quickly, getting the aircraft back into the sky instead of having to do an equipment (aircraft) change, deplaning all of the passengers, luggage, and cargo.

    With something like the 787, when something breaks, the mechanics are sometimes left calling up Boeing for a solution…and waiting for Boeing to figure it out and respond. That aircraft will be out of service until a solution and repair can be made.

    As far as potty problems go, I’ve seen incidents on all of the major manufacturers’ aircrafts. Everything from the Mad Dogs to Airbus to Boeing. IIRC, the first versions of the A340 had issues with toilet paper and other debris clogging the tank sensors, which would shut down the toilets. Not good for a TATL or similar flight.

  4. On Sat 25Nov DL423 JFK-LAX diverted to SLC for same issue- blue juice leaking out of the aft lav into the aisle. Was it the same aircraft as DL453 of Sat 02Dec? No. The LAX bound bird was N712TW, built in 1997. The Seattle bound bird was N727TW, built in 1999. Both are former TWA equipment, and not too old by 757 standards.

  5. BTW, the 717 is an awsome aircraft- as overpowered as the 757, but ultra quiet. If the 757 is a stallion, then the 717 is a stallion pony.

    As far as issues experienced with mechanical breakdowns, you have to consider that only 156 were built and Delta operates 91 of them. But Delta has them spread thin over both coasts operating Delta Shuttle up and down each. Their 110 passenger aircraft fleet is not big enough for the network they’ve established, and they’re unable to capitalize on the efficiencies created by concentrating their 717s on a single coast- both by having pilot crews concentrated at fewer, nearer bases, and by having a larger number of ships available to swap to should a mechanical issue arise.

    The 717 doesnt really malfunction at a greater rate than other aircraft. Instead, what is happening as a result of Delta’s over ambition is that when mechanical delays do occur, they become exacerbated by the circumstances of Delta’s 717 network: 717 mechanical delays are aggrevated by lack of spare aircraft on site and this pushes the delay long because the flight is forced to remain with the broken aircraft. These protracted delays push pilot crews into duty time, and because Delta’s 717 pilot crew bases are spread so thin, there are no replacement crews available. We passengers don’t perceive network-wide fleet logistics as a cause of what we’re experiencing, and instead blame our perception on an intrinsic deficit with the 717 when there is none.

    The week of rolling delays Delta experienced last January was largely a result of Delta’s crew routing and scheduling departments folding, but having their smaller fleets like the 717 and the 319, 320, and 321 spread thin across the country didn’t help.

    So what to do about all this? Delta has a plan. They ordered 100 Bombardier C Series aircraft to operate on the eastcoast, while they want to relocate the entire 717 fleet to the westcoast in order to capitalize on the efficiencies they’re loosing out on with their current 110 passenger aircraft network.

    Unfortunately Boeing gave up on the 110 passenger gauge, but they don’t seem happy that airlines want to buy that particular size from an aircraft manufacturer that makes it. Is it an effort to kill an aircraft program before the stretch versions pose a threat to their 737? Is it revenge for Delta cancelling the order of 20 B787s inherited from Northwest, and then turning around and placing an order for 20 A350s with Airbus? Is it an effort to preserve the status quo of their 717 parts and service network? Who knows, but I think Boeing played one too many hands in their effort to kill Delta’s deal with Bombardier.

    America’s airline companies want new planes, and we passengers want them too. But when an airline actually puts money where its mouth is…..cold feet everywhere.

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