(Courtesy: Bill Sengstacken / Twitter)
ATLANTA - A Boeing 767 declared an emergency just after 9 p.m. Tuesday and returned back to Atlanta. The passengers got onto another plane and began the long trek to London once again, only to return a second time.
Delta Flight 284 took off from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to FlightAware.com, flew northeast over South Carolina and less than an hour into its flight, turned around over Rosman, North Carolina and headed back to Atlanta.
Emergency crews could be seen on the ground staging for the emergency landing. FlightAware.com said the flight landed in Atlanta around 9:45 p.m. Emergency vehicles could be seen following a plane to one of the gates.
A spokesperson for the airport confirmed the plane landed safely. The passengers will be put on another plane to London.
According to FlightAware.com, that flight took off shortly after midnight, but once again, turned around, this time over Hickory, North Carolina, and returned back to Atlanta without further incident.
No official word from Delta what caused the planes to be brought back to Atlanta, but airport officials blamed it on mechanical issues; however, some passengers on the planes weren't convinced. They told FOX 5 the separate pilots on both planes said there was nothing wrong with the aircrafts. Instead, they said the flights returned to Atlanta because a loud bang could be heard on board. They also pointed out that both times the planes took off it was reported that someone had left an unclaimed coat in the gate area. Some of them think the airline isn't being upfront about what happened.
Delta put the passengers up in local hotels. The earliest they'll be able to leave for London is Wednesday night, but until then, they'll be separated from their bags which remained in Delta's custody.
Passenger Alex Brown was returning home from vacation. He's now going to miss a business meeting, stuck in Atlanta. He, like many of the other passengers, was frustrated by the lack of information coming from Delta representatives.
Late Wednesday afternoon, a Delta spokesperson sent the following statement regarding the flight:
"The flight crew of Delta flight 284 from Atlanta to London, Heathrow elected to return to Atlanta out of an abundance of caution when an abnormal noise was observed in the aircraft. The flight landed in Atlanta without incident and customers were reaccommodated on an alternate aircraft. The subsequent flight returned to Atlanta without incident due to a similar observation. Customers were provided overnight accommodations in Atlanta and the continuation of Delta flight 284 is scheduled to depart Wednesday afternoon. The safety of Delta's customers and crew is always our top priority and we apologize to our customers for the inconvenience."