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Twitter account for Flightradar24 has reported twice in past 24 hours about two different British Airways flights that has diverted their original route "due to the needs of a passenger" (here and here).

What exactly does it mean? Is it:

  • a passenger requesting to land on other airport, because he forgot his wallet?
  • operational decision to put more passengers on-board empty plane?
  • something else?
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    $\begingroup$ More than likely its a medical need urgent enough to divert. No pilot is going to turn a plane around to get something a passenger left behind. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jan 19 '16 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer unless it's a business jet and the passenger is the one chartering it :) $\endgroup$ – jwenting Jan 20 '16 at 9:54
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    $\begingroup$ As suggested by @RonBeyer, "needs of a passenger" is not "at the request of a passenger" $\endgroup$ – mins Jan 20 '16 at 10:56
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    $\begingroup$ It seems, that I was confused by FR24. I'm watching their Twitter posts for about past 2-3 years and never observed "passenger needs" before. It was always "medical urgency", "operational needs" or "reason unknown". I wonder, does this fact really mean, that I've asked the wrong question? What is so wrong in trying to learn about something unknown? Strange... $\endgroup$ – trejder Jan 20 '16 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ @trejder you jsut discovered the I don`t know therefore downvote/opinionbased etc etc condescending bandwagon :-p What you could do is to email or twitter-ask the tracking service and find out! :) $\endgroup$ – Caterpillaraoz Sep 26 '17 at 7:03
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The only passenger needs that would result in a non-scheduled landing would be a medical emergency or acts/threats of violence of the level that prompt removal of the passenger is needed (with law enforcement coordination).

A passenger forgetting his wallet would not result in a diversion. An aircraft deviation to enplane more passengers and proceeding to the scheduled destination would be a highly unusual situation and would not be for passenger needs, it would be for operational needs.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. The "missing wallet" was an obvious joke. It seems, that (too) many people misunderstood my motives and taken in (too) seriously. $\endgroup$ – trejder Jan 20 '16 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think they would call threats of violence "Needs of the passenger." Almost certainly health. $\endgroup$ – user3344003 Jun 7 '16 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @user3344003: That could be considered as the passenger having a need to be arrested. $\endgroup$ – Sean May 21 at 2:12
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The transportation industry tends to use specific phrases to describe events of this kind. They are not just euphemisms, but are intended to neutralise the potential for drama, speculation, voyeurism that can surround them.

In the UK, for example, you will sometimes hear that an London Underground service has been disrupted by "passenger action". This means that someone has committed suicide on the rail lines.

As noted in other answers, "the needs of a passenger" means a serious medical issue.

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    $\begingroup$ Dutch Railways use "collision with a person". $\endgroup$ – SQB Jun 8 '16 at 8:20
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    $\begingroup$ "someone has committed suicide on the rail lines" -- not necessarily; I think they use it for any time a person ends up on the track which (a) might not be fatal; (b) might not be deliberate (drunken stumbling; pushed). I'm not entirely sure the person has to end up under a train. $\endgroup$ – Roger Lipscombe Jan 7 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerLipscombe You are probably right. $\endgroup$ – Daniele Procida Jan 7 at 21:55
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According to FR24's comment on the post, they use that term when they do not know the exact nature of the incident. However, it is most likely a medical emergency.

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