POLICE and firefighters rushed to the door of a packed British Airways plane after passengers and crew were freaked out by a bad smell.
A photo shows five emergency services staff deployed to the Boeing 777 – as authorities dramatically cancelled the New York to London flight.
Hundreds of passengers were in their seats and waiting for the transAtlantic service to depart when it was suddenly axed last night.
The chaos began on the outbound journey from Heathrow, with a pungent odour making people feel sick.
And no chances were taken on the return flight, with the BA116 service from JFK airport shelved seconds before take-off.
A source told The Sun yesterday: "A distinctive smell was detected on the outbound flight from behind a canister. An area of the plane had to be monitored at 30,000ft.
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"Police and the fire crew came onboard to investigate in New York but couldn’t detect any harmful fumes, just the odd smell.
"It was a huge worry because some crew had reacted with headaches, itchy eyes, and reported a metal taste in their mouth.
"At the eleventh hour, with the return service fully boarded, the authorities decided the plane was not safe to go.
"The flight was cancelled, passengers were disembarked, and rebooked on later flights. It was pandemonium and no-one knew what was happening.
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"Meanwhile a team of BA engineers were tasked with investigating the stricken aircraft."
The Sun understands that the cabin crew team were sent home after the last-gasp flight cancellation.
Our source said: "The knock-on effects are huge. Missed connections, aircraft and crews out of position, and a mystery, stinky airliner.
"They don’t cancel services lighthearted."
A BA insider said they would "never operate an aircraft unless certain it was safe to do so".
British Airways told The Sun: "The safety of our customers and crew is always our priority and will never be compromised.
"We apologised to our customers for the inconvenience caused and offered an alternative flight or a full refund."
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