Emirates Flight Diverted After Every Single Toilet Stopped Working

Illustration for article titled Emirates Flight Diverted After Every Single Toilet Stopped Working

Emirates is known for being one of the world's most luxurious airlines. But on Monday, the airline had to divert a flight between San Francisco and Dubai, due to a problem that just stunk.

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Emirates flight 226 had to be diverted to Edmonton, Canada only 3.5 hours into the flight after all toilets on the aircraft stopped functioning. The route is served using a Boeing 777-3ER, and the exact aircraft was registered A6-EGH. SeatGuru says Emirates 777-3ERs have 12 to 13 lavatories on board, depending on configuration.

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An Emirates spokesperson told Arabian Business that the passengers were kept on board while the plane was repaired, saying "The comfort and safety of our passengers and crew are of the utmost importance to Emirates and will not be compromised." The flight was delayed a total of four hours before continuing on to Dubai.

Shit happens... even on Emirates.

Top photo: Emirates 777-3ER by Raihan S. R. Bakhsh on Flickr, with CC Commercial License

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DISCUSSION

This isn't entirely uncommon among airliners. I don't know the specifics of the trip-seven, but while airplanes have "n" many lavs, they usually only have ONE holding tank for that wonderful blue gooey used witches brew. Depending on lav configuration and the underdeck plumbing, a clog close to the entry point of the waste holding tank can basically jam up the whole system. It doesn't matter if all the bathrooms flush and the sinks drain - if the sewer pipe to the street is clogged, you're in barney.

On the ground, the failure of vaccum pumps can render the lav flushing unuseable, but at altitude, differential pressure provides more than enough suction, so that likely wasn't the issue.

The thing is - clogs often take FAR longer than 4 hours to fix, especally at an airport that you normally don't service. One option?

they forgot to check the level of the fresh blue juice tank before departure... even if all of the waste system is operating normally, the toilet bowls won't drain properly without that torrent of blue kool-aid to send Mr. Hanky on his way. Lav levels normally on checklists for both the cockpit and cabin crews (not to mention the ground crew whose job it is to begin with), but it can be missed - happend about 2x a year at my former employer.

EDIT: regarding blue juice levels - could also be an indication issue - even if the tank is full, if it suddenly isn't reading right, you're better off to make a pit stop so the capable mechanics (possibly Air Canada, eh?) can troubleshoot. The last thing you want on long-haul flights like Emirates flies is for the lavs to crap out (sorry - couldn't resist) when you are halfway across the frozen north and 3-4 hours away from a suitable diversion airport. Precautionary diversion? better safe than shi**y.