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1.30.16 – (LAA/LUS) – Recognizing & Responding to Unusual Odors or Fumes in the Aircraft Cabin

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

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Recognizing & Responding to Unusual Odors or Fumes in the Aircraft Cabin – LAA/LUS

Over the past week, two news stories regarding diversions of two American Airlines aircraft due to crew illness made headlines. Representatives of APFA and the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) immediately reached out to the Flight Attendants involved in these diversions, and remain in contact while the investigations continue.

APFA’s Safety & Security Department participates in monthly teleconference calls for AA Cabin Odor Review. APFA Safety & Security has just recently been granted access to review each reported cabin odor event, the investigation results, and the data collected. We are currently working with Cabin Safety and Safety Security Environmental (SSE) to enhance protocol and procedures regarding crewmember illness resulting from a possible cabin odor events as well as sharing the event investigation reports, which will include the maintenance reports of the aircraft named in a cabin odor event. 

Many of you have reached out to us wanting to know what to do in the event you suspect you may be involved in a cabin odor event. APFA Safety & Security, along with APFA Injury on Duty (IOD) Committee and APFA Health Committee, have developed the the following guidelines for Flight Attendants to follow when a possible cabin odor/fume event occurs:

  1. If the aircraft is at the gate, and there are no passengers onboard, step off the aircraft and contact the Flight Service Daily Operations desk at IOC (1-888-222-4737). Tell them that there is an unexplained odor in the aircraft. It is a good idea to proceed to the boarding area, to limit your exposure.
  2. If you detect any abnormal odor or see any smoke or a haze in the cabin after leaving the gate, follow the procedures outlined on page 386 of the Inflight Manual, and notify the Captain immediately. Be sure to be very specific in the details provided to the Captain. If any of the crewmembers or any passenger(s) begin to experience any physical symptoms (headache, metallic taste, coughing, irritated eye/nose/throat, dizziness and/or nausea) notify the Captain and coordinate the appropriate medical response.
  3. If immediately following the flight you begin to experience any physical symptoms (chest tightness, profound fatigue, muscle aches, sinus congestion and/or a persistent cough) contact the Flight Service Daily Operations desk at IOC (1-888-222-4737) to report the event and your illness/ injury in order to receive the necessary assistance in seeking immediate medical treatment at the nearest hospital for proper testing of a possible exposure. The testing should include a blood test to determine exposure.
  4. Each Flight Attendant should file the applicable AMR Event Report for all odor/fume events, and if necessary file the IOD/OJI claim with your Flight Service Manager. Visit the Flight Service website, and click on the Safety and Security link on the left side of the homepage to access AMR Event Reports. Create a new report and choose the category: Fire/Smoke/Fumes/Odor. Flight Attendants may also report their specific safety concern regarding the odor/fume event to the Cabin ASAP program for review by AA, APFA and the FAA. The Cabin ASAP Reporting form can also be found under the Event Reporting section on the Safety and Security page of Flight Service.


  5. Please send reports of suspected odor/fume events to:

In Safety and Solidarity,

Kelly Skyles
APFA National Safety & Security Chair

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