It's been one of the airline industry's best-kept secrets, but even their efficient PR methods have been unable to keep a lid on the sudden escalation of fume events—when jet oil gets into the cabin, causing sudden dizziness or fatigue—that have been happening this month.
Numerous flights have been abandoned or diverted, although the airlines have described the incidents as 'smoke smells'. Airlines have maintained that fume events are extremely rare, and even if they do occur, they cause no long-lasting health problems.
Groups such as the Aerotoxic Association say that frequent flyers and cabin crew could suffer long-term health problems if they are exposed to enough fume events. Three academics, who reviewed the problem in 1999, coined the term 'aerotoxic syndrome' to describe the cumulative effects of fume events.
The airlines think that the recent rise in fume events have been caused by atmospheric changes, which have forced numerous flights to make emergency landings or be diverted.
British Airways, Easyjet and Flybe have confirmed that 'smoke smells' have affected numerous flights in October, and emergency landings have been made to airports around the UK, including Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool and Jersey. After one emergency landing in Liverpool, fire crew boarded the plane.
Easyjet confirmed to the BBC that three flights in October were forced to make emergency landings, while Flybe said that fume events happened in two flights, one of which carried on as normal after cabin crew had taken 'precautionary action', but the other returned to Manchester.