Flight from hell: 26 passengers suffer vomiting bug on Qantas plane

Flight from hell: 26 passengers in norovirus outbreak on Qantas plane

A long-haul flight from Chile to Sydney turned into a nightmare on Thursday after 26 passengers became violently ill with gastroenteritis.

The passengers were thought to be a tour group travelling back to Australia after celebrating World Youth Day in Brazil together, and it is believed they picked up the bug before they boarded the flight at Santiago, reports the Telegraph.

A statement posted on the Qantas website said: "A number of passengers travelling in the same group on QF28 from Santiago to Sydney yesterday became unwell with a gastro intestinal illness. It is believed the illness was contracted before boarding the aircraft.

"The aircraft was met by medical staff to look after the unwell passengers on landing in Sydney around 5:15pm. Of the group of 26 passengers affected, 16 were transferred to local hospitals for further assessment. Passengers are travelling on to their final destination of Melbourne this morning (Friday)."

The NSW Ministry of Health said the group developed "vomiting and diarrhoea on the plane" consistent with the norovirus infection, a common cause of gastroenteritis.

According to smh.com.au, a spokesman added: "NSW Health has provided Qantas with a letter and fact sheet about viral gastro to distribute to all departing passengers, as well as advice for cleaning and cabin staff."

The plane was quarantined upon arrival in Sydney, and was also disinfected.

The teenagers and teachers who had been on a two-week Archdiocese of Melbourne trip only had eight toilets to choose from on the Boeing 747-400.

Sixteen members of the group were taken to the Prince of Wales and St George hospitals, with three leaving the airport on stretchers, reports the NY Post.

Norovirus infections are spread by direct contact, and symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea, and sometimes also a fever, stomach pains, headaches and muscle aches.

The young and elderly particularly can be at risk of becoming dehydrated.

Fellow passenger Madeleine Enwright, a nurse from Sydney, helped to treat the teenagers on the flight, along with two doctors who were also travelling on QF28.

She told smh.com.au: "We just took their blood pressures to see if they were severely dehydrated.

"The worst that they were was a little bit dehydrated but nothing serious, it's just symptomatic treatment really."

Mid-air meltdowns
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Flight from hell: 26 passengers suffer vomiting bug on Qantas plane

In 2010, a flight from Omsk to Vladivostok was grounded after one of the passengers started running around the plane naked. "The young man suddenly jumped off his seat, quickly took all his clothes off, and started shouting and darting around the cabin,” Siberian transport police representatives said. The man was taken to a clinic upon landing.

In May 2011, terrified passengers on board an Easyjet plane had to overpower a British man who twice tried to open a cabin door mid-flight at 35,000ft between Krakow, Poland and Edinburgh. Witnesses said the the man lunged for the door handle but was quickly tackled by staff and fellow passengers as the aircraft's pilots were forced to land at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. 

In August 2012, two passengers threw a wobbly because their airline didn't have any X-L sized pjyamas. Their Qantas flight was delayed as air stewards tried to pacify the pair but they were so indignant that they refused to fly and demanded to get off the plane. Quite right too. There's nothing worse than ill-fitting jim-jams at 30,000ft.

A Thomas Cook flight from Manchester to the Canary Islands had to do a U-turn after a passenger became so agressive that he had to be pinned down by five people. The 50-year-old man, who appeared to have been drinking, apparently got into a violent argument with an elderly passenger - believed to be his father - and began swinging wild punches, witnesses said. The plane landed and the unruly passenger was immediately arrested.

In January 2012, a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta to Costa Rica had to be diverted because a couple from Germany reportedly refused to sit down unless they were given champagne. The pair, who were seated in first class, denied the incident, but the Delta Airlines captain took the precaution of making a diversion to Florida, where they were removed from the flight.

Even pilots have their moments, as we discovered from the JetBlue pilot who suffered a mid-air meltdown in March 2012 while in charge of a flight between New York and Las Vegas. Three hours into their flight, passengers were terrified when they heard him banging doors and running around the aircraft yelling about terrorism, and screaming: 'We're all going down!". The pilot had to be wrestled to the floor by passengers and locked out of the cockpit, and an off-duty pilot who was on board helped the plane make an emergency landing. The Jetblue pilot was later found not guilty of interfering with a flight crew for reasons of insanity.

Back in March 2012, one airline stewardess appeared to completely lose the plot when she started screaming about 9-11 and how the plane was going to crash. American Airlines flight 2332 from Dallas was taxiing along the runway when the attendant suddenly started screaming hysterically. Terrified passengers had to pin her down and the plane returned to base, where police arrested her, still kicking and screaming.

In July 2012, a passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight faced legal charges after he exploded into an expletive-ridden tirade against a woman in front of him - because she wouldn't turn off her reading light. The 50-year-old man, who was on a flight from Honolulu to Bellingham International Airport in Washington, threatened to keep kicking the back of her chair is she didn't turn off the light.

In August 2011, passengers travelling to London from Moscow on a bmi flight got more than they bargained for when a drunk female passenger started performing erotic dances in the aisles. The Airbus had to return to Domodedovo half an hour after take off when the woman started "harrassing" passengers. The woman was subsequently removed from the flight and taken to hospital for medical tests. The airline said it had considered fining her for the delay...

A toddler meltdown led to an entire family being kicked off a flight from Boston to the Caribbean in March 2012. Collette Vieau's two-year old daughter Natalie started crying and refused to sit in her seat. Although the family eventually managed to strap her in, the JetBlue pilot decided it was unsafe to fly with her on board and the family had to disembark. As there were no more flights that evening, the family had to pay $2,000 for hotel accommodation and to rebook their flights...


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