New York – Paris Flight Diverts to Ireland So Passengers Can Use the Bathroom

The Christmas Day departure of British Airways subsidiary OpenSkies flight BA8004 from Newark to Paris diverted to Shannon, Ireland for a bathroom break.

All toilets on the plane failed over the Atlantic and with 172 people on board that’s an emergency. So they made a pit stop, taxiing directly to the terminal to allow passengers to use the airport facilities.. A maintenance crew serviced the lavatories and the plane took off after two hours, arriving in Paris 130 minutes delayed.

The ability to correct the ‘failure’ of the toilets suggests that perhaps they were all full, leading me to wonder if they weren’t emptied in New York as they should have been — but that’s speculation and many readers will know more about the workings of lavatories than I do.

On the other hand, the pilots claimed that there was “a serious problem” with the toilets.

The pilot told air-traffic controllers that the Boeing 767 had a “serious problem” with its toilets and that the flight’s passengers were likely to have an “urgent need for them to go to the toilets,” the Irish Mirror reported.

Only 90 minutes remained of the journey after crossing the Atlantic and reaching Ireland, the Independent reported. However, the flight was delayed for two hours as engineers worked to repair the broken bathrooms.

The flight wasn’t far from London, and if it was just a Shannon – London flight they’d have proceeded without a working lavatory. We know it’s possible for an entire plane to ‘hold it’ for a 738 mile Westchester – Chicago flight so the 370 mile Shannon – London hop is easy. But some passengers had probably not gone since Newark.

The Boeing 767-300ER was first delivered in 1990, but only joined the OpenSkies fleet from parent British Airways in August. It’s used to carrying many more passengers (and its lavatories holding what many more passengers bring it).

Of course British Airways is no stranger to lavatory-forced diversions. And for future reference, here’s how you fix a stinky lav.

Sing it with me:

Such a long, it just ain’t right
Lav’s got to be fixed yes it does, the smell don’t lie
A tear in your eye, a rag on your face
The smell is stuck all over you, you can’t escape
You tell the flight crew they don’t care what you think
You’re on your own… The Lav Stinks!

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, 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. Gary,

    I used to be an airline ramp agent, and for the life of me, I don’t know exactly what went wrong or what would cause this. Granted, the aircraft I used to service had the “blue juice” style lavs, and not the vaccuum style that the larger aircraft do.

    With the blue juice ones, the first thing that would happen if they weren’t serviced properly is the fluid would just turn green (I’m not joking). Then it would start to smell. For the lav to be rendered inop, it would either not be able to flush or it would be overflowing. But the FA’s as part of their inspection should do a quick flush before takeoff. With the regionals, there were times where the lavs were MEL’d and the pax were told to go in the terminal, hold it, or rebook.

  2. The 767 is notorious for this issue. Most likely scenario is that someone flushed an object that blocked the line which put multiple lavs out of commission. I’ve had this happen before on 767s (not in flight though as pressurisation differential is usually able to keep the vacuum system limping along) and it is a pain to resolve. Kenya Airways used to have this problem on their 767s too with passengers flushing chicken bones that blocked the lines.

  3. I have a sneaking suspicion that Shannon, Ireland offered not only a faster past to a lavatory than Paris, they also offered a ready fixit crew,

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