Skip to main content

What to do if your flight is grounded by a ‘smelly poo’

After a 'smelly poo' forced a long-haul flight to turn back, passengers were stranded for 15 hours. What can you do if your flight lets you down?


Last week a British Airways flight to Dubai made headlines when it was forced to turn back to Heathrow because someone did “…a smelly poo in the toilet”.

The odour from the toilet was deemed too unbearable by the plane’s crew to continue the the seven-hour flight and the pilot turned the flight back to Heathrow.

The toilet trouble meant passengers had to wait 15 hours for the next British Airways flight.

A British Airways spokesperson told reporters: “We’re very sorry for the discomfort to our customers. ​We provided them with hotel accommodation and rescheduled the flight to depart the next day.”

What you can do if your airline lets you down

While nothing can adequately combat nasty toilet odours it is worth knowing your rights when flights are delayed or cancelled.

If your flight is delayed your airline is required to provide you with meals and refreshments to match the length of the delay you are entitled to assistance and possibly compensation between €125-€600.

If you are delayed by more than five hours and decide not to travel, you are entitled to a refund paid by the airline within seven days.

However, if there were ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which delayed your flight the airline may not have to pay compensation. Extraordinary circumstances include:

  • Severe weather
  • Security risks
  • Strike action
  • Political instability
  • Air traffic management decisions
  • Technical problems with an aircraft

While a ‘smelly poo’ cancelling a flight is extraordinary, it’s unlikely to be an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.

British Airways did the right thing and did their best to make their stranded customers comfortable, but there are many horror stories of people being let down by their airlines.

Luckily your rights are protected by European Law (Regulation (EC) 261/2004) and are the same on all airlines. If you feel your airline is being unhelpful you should contact the Consumer Council for more assistance.

Claiming back through your credit card

If you are entitled to a refund and have exhausted the customer service channels from your airline, you could still get a refund from your credit card provider under Section 75 of your credit card’s protection service.

Section 75 is a piece of legislation that means your credit card provider and the trader you made the purchase from are equally liable if something goes wrong with a pruchase you made on your credit card.

So, whether you’re worried about your fellow passengers bowels or any other problems travel might throw in your way, using a credit card to make one-off  big purchases, like flights, is always a good idea.

Compare the best credit cards for travel

Read our guide on the best credit cards for travel, find out what’s the best airline rewards scheme or take a look at available travel credit cards now.