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A plane carrying dozens of plumbers was forced to turn back because of toilet problems

By: Alex Horton, The Washington Post
January 31, 2018 Updated: January 31, 2018 at 6:54 pm
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Boeing 737-800 airplanes belonging to budget carrier Norwegian Air are parked at Stockholm Arlanda Airport in 2015. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/Reuters)

Soon after takeoff, a crew member on the flight from Oslo noticed a problem with the toilets on a plane flush with plumbers.

The incident occurred Saturday morning on a Norwegian Air Shuttle flight with more than 80 plumbing industry workers heading to Munich for a trade event. About 70 plumbers from the Rorkjop company were on the flight, including its chief executive, Frank Olsen. The irony was not lost among the passengers when crew announced the reason for the return to Oslo.

“Seldom has there been more laughter in an airplane . . . when the reason given is ‘toilet problems,'” Olsen told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

The flight data website Flight Tracker shows the southbound flight proceeding on its typical pattern across the Skagerrak Strait. About 15 minutes after takeoff, the flight banked to the east on its way back to Oslo.

If anyone on board had a bathroom emergency, they had to wait while the aircraft circled in the air and used up some fuel until it was light enough to land again, Fatima Elkadi, a spokeswoman for the airlines, told Daglabet. Flight Tracker shows the plane making four tight turns over Valer before making its way back to the Gardermoen airport north of the capital.

The plane touched down about an hour after takeoff.

Olsen made light of the dozens of plumbers not being able to help repair the faulty commodes. “We’d have gladly fixed the toilets, but it must unfortunately be done from the outside, and we didn’t want to take a chance on sending out a plumber at 10,000 meters altitude,” Olsen told Daglabet.

The flight was not the first occurrence of faulty toilets forcing an aircraft to the ground, but it may be the most serendipitous. In December 2016, a Paris-bound flight from New York landed in Ireland so its passengers could use the bathroom there. A month earlier, a flight from Toronto to Lahore was diverted to Great Britain after a toilet became clogged.

Olsen said the incident has stuck with his staffers long after the flight was rescheduled on the budget airliner later that day.

“Even the flight attendant came and told me that she have never done a U-turn with that many passengers smiling on board,” he said. “We are still smiling.”

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Read this story at The Washington Post.

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