24 May 2017

Toxic Thomson Flight Turns Back – Passengers and Crew Overcome by Fumes

Underside of plane flying
A Bristol bound Thomson flight TOM375 from Florida was diverted back to the US after several passengers and crew members, including a pilot, became ill due to toxic fumes in the aircraft. The affected passengers and crew were given oxygen and the plane – with 240 passengers on board – made an emergency landing in Orlando, Florida. Five people were taken to hospital as a precaution and the remaining passengers were put up in a hotel overnight before flying back to the UK on Monday morning.

Thomson released an apology stating: ‘Thomson Airways would like to apologise for any inconvenience to our customers on board flight TOM375 travelling from Orlando to Bristol which was diverted back to Orlando International Airport due to a medical emergency.’

According to EU Regulation EC261/2004, a medical emergency is considered an extraordinary circumstance, so it looks as though the airline are already trying to lay the groundwork for rejecting compensation claims for this flight. However, in this instance the ‘medical emergency’ was almost certainly due to a technical problem, which would mean that the airline should have to pay compensation for the delay.

Separate to compensation under Regulation EC261/2004, it appears likely that passengers directly affected by the fumes may also be able to claim damages against the airline for physical and psychological harm they have suffered. However, this is outside of what is covered by Regulation EC261/2004, so we cannot speculate about any legal recourse these passengers may have.

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