Air traffic control didn’t have a protocol for such a bizarre incident.
We’ve all probably forgotten something at home after leaving for a flight. Or maybe even left something in the airport terminal—usually, those items are things like sunglasses, a book, or maybe some headphones. But a baby?! It would seem impossible, right? Well, you’d hope so, but it’s shockingly true—and it happened on a flight en route to Malaysia.
In 2019, a Malaysia-bound plane needed to turn around and head back to its origin in Saudi Arabia. As it had turned out, a passenger had forgotten her baby in the terminal.
Normally, flights are only diverted or turned around if there is a major emergency such as a health or safety issue. However, a forgotten baby was certainly something the pilots and flight crew had never encountered before.
The strange and bizarre incident happened on flight SV832 when a woman alerted the flight attendants that she had forgotten her baby in the waiting area of the terminal at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport.
A voice recording of the pilot’s communication with Air Traffic Control soon went viral. He was requesting permission to head back, however, the ATC was initially very confused.
The ATC operators were understandably surprised to hear that a mother left her baby in the airport, completely oblivious as she boarded the plane, sat down, and even took flight. Since there was never a protocol put into place for such a bizarre situation, the ATC was scampering about trying to figure out the best solution.
“May God be with us. Can we come back or what?” the pilot can be heard talking to an air traffic controller.
The operator takes note of the flight number and speaks with a co-worker about the best course of action. Was it worth diverting an entire flight if the baby wasn’t in immediate or grave danger? The woman on the flight, however, was starting to become irrational and refused to continue the flight without her baby. The conversation continued…
“This flight is requesting to come back…a passenger forgot her baby in the waiting area, the poor thing.”
To be completely sure they were hearing the situation correctly, ATC asks the pilot to repeat and re-confirm the reason for turning around.
“We told you, a passenger left her baby in the terminal and refuses to continue the flight,” the pilot reiterated.
At this point, everyone agreed that it would be best for the flight to return to its origin airport and gate.
“Ok, head back to the gate. This is totally a new one for us!” the operated confirms.
You can hear the full audio in the video below, however, there are no English subtitles.
This isn’t the first time, though, that flights had to turn around or divert for strange and unbelievable reasons. In fact, back in 2013, an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York had to divert to Kansas City due to a “very unruly passenger” who refused to stop belting out Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.
Then, in 2014, a taxiing plane on its way to Seoul from New York had to return to the gate after South Korean airline heiress Cho Hyun-ah became upset for being served macadamia nuts in a packet instead of a bowl–forcing a crew member to disembark.