TUI Boeing 787 Diverts Due To Incapacitated Pilot (Yep, It Was Food Poisoning)

TUI Boeing 787 Diverts Due To Incapacitated Pilot (Yep, It Was Food Poisoning)

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A TUI Boeing 787 first officer recently became incapacitated during a transatlantic flight, leading to an unexpected 24-hour stopover for passengers in Maine.

TUI flight to Orlando diverts to Bangor

British charter airline TUI Airways operates a once weekly flight from Doncaster, United Kingdom (DSA), to Melbourne, Florida (MLB), using a Boeing 787-8. For those not familiar with Melbourne, that’s near Orlando, and the airport has been sued by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority for trying to market itself as an Orlando airport.

Perhaps that route is the first interesting part of the story. TUI Airways has a fascinating long haul route network, as the airline seasonally flies to Melbourne, Florida from Belfast, Birmingham, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Gatwick, Manchester, and Newcastle. Amazing, eh? Anyway…

On October 16, 2022, the Doncaster to Melbourne flight didn’t quite go as planned. Flight BY564 was operated by a roughly nine year old Dreamliner with the registration code G-TUIB. As the plane completed its transatlantic crossing, the first officer became incapacitated, apparently due to food poisoning (yep, like that scene in “Airplane!”).

TUI only has two pilots on this 4,276-mile, ~8.5 hour flight. So the captain declared a “PAN” (non-life threatening emergency), and requested a diversion to Bangor, Maine (BGR). A flight attendant came up to the cockpit to assist, but presumably wasn’t doing anything at the controls. The plane ended up landing safely in Bangor around 6hr10min after departing from the UK.

TUI Airways’ diversion to Bangor, Maine

You can hear the audio between the captain and air traffic controller below.

Matters became even more complicated in Bangor

Obviously the priority in aviation is always safety — both for the person who became incapacitated, and for everyone onboard. At this point you had a 288-seat jet on the ground at an airport with very limited air service, which usually doesn’t get any international flights.

It’s also not like TUI Airways has any reserve pilots on call in Bangor, so this was a tricky situation. Long story short, the plane, passengers, and crew, ended up spending nearly 24 hours on the ground in Bangor, and continued to Melbourne the following day.

The flight landed from Doncaster a little after 2PM on October 16, and departed to Melbourne a little after 2PM on October 17. With the pilot having been incapacitated the previous day, he obviously wasn’t fit to fly. So how did the airline get a reserve crew?

Well, on October 17, TUI diverted its Birmingham (BHX) to Melbourne (MLB) flight to Bangor, to drop off a replacement cockpit crew. That flight was operated by a Boeing 787-9 with the registration code G-TUIJ. That plane spent less than an hour on the ground in Bangor, so the airline was able to make this happen with minimal delay for those on that service.

Funny enough, you then had two TUI flights at almost exactly the same time flying from Bangor to Melbourne. The flight down to Melbourne took just over three hours.

TUI Airways’ continuing flight to Melbourne, Florida

What I’d be fascinated to know is how the logistics in Bangor worked:

  • Presumably passengers had to clear immigration, yet the airport doesn’t ordinarily get international flights; are there some immigration agents for private jets, and/or some who can be called in, or how did everyone get screened?
  • Finding enough hotel rooms for (potentially) ~300 people is no small task

Bottom line

A transatlantic TUI Airways flight from Doncaster to Melbourne diverted to Bangor, after the first officer became incapacitated due to food poisoning. The plane and passengers ended up spending roughly 24 hours on the ground in Bangor, as they waited for a replacement crew (which arrived there via another TUI flight that was diverted to the airport. What fascinating logistics.

What do you make of this TUI Airways diversion?

Conversations (47)
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  1. AB Guest

    Do you like gladiator movies?

  2. iamhere Guest

    Regarding your comment about the international flights, it just shows you did not consider the whole situation or did not do your research. Would think many flights to there from Canada, for example.

  3. iamhere Guest

    The other issue is they could not borrow an officer from a partner airline. If it was Air France or KLM for example perhaps they could "borrow" one from Delta for example. TUI does not have partners or many partners that I know of. Hopefully the passengers were properly compensated.

  4. Snipelee Guest

    Bangor supports a ton of private international flights. They land and clear customs and immigration there to avoid the hassles at the main airports.

  5. Matt C Guest

    Hello from Bangor, ME. Our airport may be small in terms of traffic but it is an International airport with Customs agents. BGR has one of the longest runways on the east coast a little over 2 miles long (3.487 KM). A great place to take a shit.

  6. Doreen Guest

    Why was the pilot the only one to get food poisoning? Usually they eat the same food the passengers eat.

  7. 8675310 Guest

    So, the First Officer is the only one on the plane that had the lasagna?

  8. Artie Guest

    Only 2 pilots on a 8.5hr flight? Flying in the states they would have to obey our Federal Aviation Regulations that require 3 pilots when the flight is scheduled to exceed 8 hours.

  9. Big Crow Guest

    Too bad, they were 2/3 of the way there.

  10. FLLFLYER Guest

    BGR is very used to TATL diversions - they do a remarkable job. Often get TATL diverts in winter because of snow at JFK and EWR.

  11. Steven taylor Guest

    May I say I was one of those passengers along with my fiance 3 sons one of which is disabled and one that is 6 months and being diverted for 36 hours with no lugage till the end no baby milk no continance products for my disabled son who found the situation very stressful was a joke they locked every one up in one room for over 24 hours before deciding to place every one...

    May I say I was one of those passengers along with my fiance 3 sons one of which is disabled and one that is 6 months and being diverted for 36 hours with no lugage till the end no baby milk no continance products for my disabled son who found the situation very stressful was a joke they locked every one up in one room for over 24 hours before deciding to place every one in hotels promising tranfers back to airport next day of which they didnt send the whole thing was badly excicuted they didn't even send tranfer bus when it was time to leave florida what a joke

    1. Michael Frank Guest

      For a plane that was on the ground for a little over 24 hours, how did you manage to spend an entire 24 hour day locked up in a room and then spend a night in a hotel?

    2. Mahendra Smith Guest

      You forgot the time change. The UK is 5 hours ahead of Eastern time. So basically 5 hours in a hotel to do whatever I guess. Not sure what being disabled has to do with anything though

    3. Bob Phelps Guest

      Don’t forgot the time zone change buddy! The UK is about 5 hours ahead

  12. spaceranger Guest

    I used to live in Melbourne, Fla and in the winter months there were lots of UK and Canadian visitors. The convenience stores would start including Players and some of the other Commonwealth brands for a few months as well.

  13. DowneSte Guest

    Bangor is a nice little regional airport that gets flight diversions like these from time to time.

    Fun fact: as the easternmost ‘major’ airport in the continental US, the runway was modified to accommodate an emergency landing by the Space Shuttles. Consequently Bangor has a massive runway for an airport of its size!

  14. Nick Cignetti Guest

    Back in the last century I have been diverted to Bangor, ME a few times. It has never been a problem.

  15. george Guest

    Yeah right, it was only the fish, and the pilot cleaned the bones on his serving.

    A guy got lost for a few days on a hike in Arkansas. All he'd have had to do was go downhill or follow along downstream until he got to the Buffalo River and take it from there. He was found by searchers. Chances are, he had a bout of 'vaxx' issue occur while hiking.

  16. Phil Guest

    Illustrates again the problems, some deadly, of having only two cockpit crew on over-ocean flights.

    1. Catpaws Guest

      No one died on this flight. The crew put safety first and terminated at a suitable airport. There used to be jets with 3 man crews - B747, B727, DC-10, L-1011 come to mind. But travelers didn't want to spend any extra money for the extra crew member. So, all those airplanes have gone away.

  17. Jeffythequick Guest

    So, what you're saying is that Airplane! is a documentary now? :)

    All of the cool stories have an insurmountable issue and a happy ending, so the passengers get that.

  18. Jim1937 Guest

    Sure Wuhan food poisoning.

  19. Sam G Guest

    TUI MLB op is focused towards their Disney holiday / Orlando package business as well as cruises. They're usually a bit cheaper than BA or Virgin as well as offering more regional departure points as Richard says. It used to be based out of Sanford but Melbourne managed to tempt them across recently.

    Florida is very popular with Brits although a lot more expensive recently due to inflation and the poor £/$ exchange rate...

    TUI MLB op is focused towards their Disney holiday / Orlando package business as well as cruises. They're usually a bit cheaper than BA or Virgin as well as offering more regional departure points as Richard says. It used to be based out of Sanford but Melbourne managed to tempt them across recently.

    Florida is very popular with Brits although a lot more expensive recently due to inflation and the poor £/$ exchange rate so may taper off a little next year.

    The 787s are based in many of their regional bases or position in to operate these long hauls. They also use them to operate short haul flights especially during the summer months

  20. Tomaso Guest

    How’s the pilot doing? Did he have to be hospitalized? No word in the article.

  21. Robsan40 Guest

    How is it that the pilot was the only one with food poisoning? Did the other 300 people on board not eat?

    1. Sig Guest

      They couldn't afford it...

  22. 26J Guest

    Bangor is a customs services airport so no issues on that regard provided there was some advanced notice. Hotel rooms were probably a bit more challenging, but they wouldn't have been far from Bar Harbor so I'm sure they could have worked out the lodging.

  23. geoff Guest

    Leslie Neilsen has entered the chat...
    Just want you to know...we're all counting on you..................

  24. Chucky Guest

    Hotel rooms shouldn't have been a large issue - it's worth remembering that Bangor is squarely within Maine vacation country, a short drive away from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. There many hotels in the area - people use it as a home base for tourism.

  25. George Guest

    It was a bad week to give up eating meat. I didn't realize I needed an "Airplane" fix. It all came back to me like that night in Algiers.

  26. Tom Guest

    Food poisoning takes at least 7 hours to take effect after eating the bad item. So the implication here is that it was not the food on the plane that made the pilot sick, but rather something eaten before the flight.

    And you would think other people on the flight would have also gotten sick if the fish or chicken was bad.

    Is it still true that the 2 pilots have to eat different meals?

  27. Richard Guest

    Ben, I understand your curiosity at TUIs route network to Florida but it has some excellent reasons for it. They are a package holiday seller and if you are a Brit on holiday at the end of October the Med islands are shut down and the weather is not ideal. You will be able to spot that the same set of "regional" airports will tend to also have a 1-2x weekly TUI to Cancun, Barbados...

    Ben, I understand your curiosity at TUIs route network to Florida but it has some excellent reasons for it. They are a package holiday seller and if you are a Brit on holiday at the end of October the Med islands are shut down and the weather is not ideal. You will be able to spot that the same set of "regional" airports will tend to also have a 1-2x weekly TUI to Cancun, Barbados and other Caribbean tourist centres.
    In particular - Disney Orlando is a huge draw to people who do not want to drive from the UK regions for 4 hours to Lhr with their two little ones in the car.

  28. Christian Guest

    Bangor's incredibly well equipped to handle something like this with a history dating back to the days when fuel stops were needed transatlantic. The airport has an entire international concourse with jetbridges that sits dormant until something like this incident happens or a military charter arrives (which is fairly common). At the start of the Iraq war the community got together to start the Maine Troop Greeters which made an effort to meet and welcome...

    Bangor's incredibly well equipped to handle something like this with a history dating back to the days when fuel stops were needed transatlantic. The airport has an entire international concourse with jetbridges that sits dormant until something like this incident happens or a military charter arrives (which is fairly common). At the start of the Iraq war the community got together to start the Maine Troop Greeters which made an effort to meet and welcome back troops from overseas given it was often their first steps back on US soil. I believe that the group is still active today. There are also significantly more nearby hotels than an airport like Bangor would typically need.

  29. Wubbodo Guest

    It took 8 hours to get all passengers sorted and into hotels. A scheduled TUI flight the following day made a stop in Bangor to drop off a crew to fly it onto Melbourne

  30. Syd Guest

    Isn't it the coolest thing ever how in ATC recordings whenever there's even a slight emergency everybody is genuinely insanely helpful, understanding, caring, and often goes out of their way to assist and comfort? Obviously it's controllers job to do that and pilot's job to keep cool - but oftentimes I hear people go far beyond pure professionalism.

  31. weiskel Guest

    I know this isn't a film blog, but the whole "food poisoning" and "chicken vs. fish" thing in "Airplane!" is itself a reference to the 1956 film "Flight into Danger," which sparked a wave of adaptations from the 50s to the 80s.

    Not sure why I'm mentioning this. But those films are worth checking out if you're an aviation enthusiast and into old movies.

  32. Ben Holz Guest

    I believe that there's a solid number of private/GA transatlantic flights ex-Bangor

  33. PJS678 Member

    In 1985, I flew on a British Airtours L1011 charter from MIA-LGW-MIA. On the way back, we had a scheduled stop at Bangor to refuel and because of a hurricane threatening Florida, we had to overnight. I was an unaccompanied minor (there were 3 of us) and they put us up at the airport Hilton (I think it was a Hilton). Everyone else had to be farmed out (no pun intended) to local B&Bs and...

    In 1985, I flew on a British Airtours L1011 charter from MIA-LGW-MIA. On the way back, we had a scheduled stop at Bangor to refuel and because of a hurricane threatening Florida, we had to overnight. I was an unaccompanied minor (there were 3 of us) and they put us up at the airport Hilton (I think it was a Hilton). Everyone else had to be farmed out (no pun intended) to local B&Bs and guesthouses. I'm sure it was quite the undertaking, but if they figured out the last-minute logistics pre-internet, I'm sure they can figure it out in 2022.

  34. Sean M. Diamond

    And passengers get a nice £520 compensation payment under UK 261.

    Ka-ching!!!

    1. Rob Guest

      No they don’t. This would fall under extraordinary circumstances and no compensation would be due.

    2. Rob Guest

      Staff illness that causes crew not to be available before an aircraft takes off does trigger compensation, as the airline is expected to have reserve crews available. However, if a pilot falls I’ll in flight, this is not something an airline can reasonably plan for - it would be unviable to roster reserve crew on each flight for this.

    3. Steven taylor Guest

      May I say I was one of those passengers along with my fiance 3 sons one of which is disabled and one that is 6 months and being diverted for 36 hours with no lugage till the end no baby milk no continance products for my disabled son who found the situation very stressful was a joke they locked every one up in one room for over 24 hours before deciding to place every one...

      May I say I was one of those passengers along with my fiance 3 sons one of which is disabled and one that is 6 months and being diverted for 36 hours with no lugage till the end no baby milk no continance products for my disabled son who found the situation very stressful was a joke they locked every one up in one room for over 24 hours before deciding to place every one in hotels promising tranfers back to airport next day of which they didnt send the whole thing was badly excicuted they didn't even send tranfer bus when it was time to leave florida what a joke

    4. red_robbo Guest

      Sounds like a dodgy story, to be honest.....

  35. Stuart Guest

    There's a massive cbp operation in Bangor and they do handle the military rotators constantly as long as it's within like normal hours which this was.

    The hotel rooms might have been a logistical challenge but maybe not that hard

  36. Benjamin LeRoy Guest

    But you missed a key question, was it the chicken or the fish?

    1. Stephen Henry Guest

      Who made the diagnosis of food poisoning?
      Based on what symptoms?
      What was the pilot's vaxx status?
      The toxic spike protein generated by the body induced by the vaxx makes everything worse: cancer, cardiovascular, digestive, etc.
      The vaxx produces a toxic protein spike making factory throughout your body with known shutoff switch.

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Syd Guest

Isn't it the coolest thing ever how in ATC recordings whenever there's even a slight emergency everybody is genuinely insanely helpful, understanding, caring, and often goes out of their way to assist and comfort? Obviously it's controllers job to do that and pilot's job to keep cool - but oftentimes I hear people go far beyond pure professionalism.

4
PJS678 Member

In 1985, I flew on a British Airtours L1011 charter from MIA-LGW-MIA. On the way back, we had a scheduled stop at Bangor to refuel and because of a hurricane threatening Florida, we had to overnight. I was an unaccompanied minor (there were 3 of us) and they put us up at the airport Hilton (I think it was a Hilton). Everyone else had to be farmed out (no pun intended) to local B&Bs and guesthouses. I'm sure it was quite the undertaking, but if they figured out the last-minute logistics pre-internet, I'm sure they can figure it out in 2022.

2
Stuart Guest

There's a massive cbp operation in Bangor and they do handle the military rotators constantly as long as it's within like normal hours which this was. The hotel rooms might have been a logistical challenge but maybe not that hard

2
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