United Airlines flight to San Francisco forced to return to Korea due to crew illness

A United Airlines flight bound for San Francisco from Incheon International Airport was forced to return due to crew illness attributed to suspected food poisoning.

A United Airlines flight bound for San Francisco from Incheon International Airport was compelled to turn back to Korea after the pilot and flight attendants fell ill with suspected food poisoning, sources reported on Monday.

The incident unfolded as United Airlines Flight UA806 departed from Incheon International Airport at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday but retraced its route after reaching Sendai, a city in northeast Japan. The reason for the abrupt return was officially categorised as “miscellaneous” by Incheon International Airport, a designation commonly used for incidents like food-related illnesses.

According to aviation industry insiders, issues such as gas leaks typically receive specific designations rather than being labelled as “miscellaneous.” A video shared on social media captured a flight attendant apologising to passengers, explaining that the crew, including the pilot, had fallen severely ill due to food poisoning.

“Today’s plane is returning to Incheon,” the attendant announced. “We had no choice as the flight attendants and pilots have been extremely sick after eating food. Attendants on the ground will be aiding passengers on their trips. We are sorry,” she added.

The precise timing and source of the food poisoning remained unconfirmed, leaving uncertainty about whether it occurred before boarding or during the flight. Flight tracking data from Flightradar24 indicated that the aircraft departed Incheon International Airport at 12:05 p.m. on Monday and landed back at approximately 5:55 a.m. on Tuesday.

The incident underscores the critical importance of food safety protocols in airline operations and highlights the significant disruptions that can arise when crew members fall ill during flights. United Airlines has yet to issue an official statement regarding the incident.