The Philadelphia Inquirer
Mayor Kenney and a Philadelphia delegation arrived in Reykjavik on Wednesday night, a day after their original PHL-to-Iceland flight was diverted to Boston because of a suspicious odor on the Icelandair aircraft.
Kenney and his group, including Nicholas DeBenedictis, chairman of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and his wife, Eileen, and Folasade Olanipekun-Lewis, chief administrative officer at the Philadelphia airport, were on the first flight from Boston that, according to the airline website, left at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday, scheduled to arrive in Reykjavik at 11:40 p.m., Kenney’s office confirmed. (Iceland local time is four hours later than Philadelphia.) The Wednesday night arrival was at 11:41, just one minute later than scheduled.
Also on that flight were Icelandair CEO Birkir Holm Gudnason and Reykjavik Mayor Dagur Eggertsson, who spent two days touring Philadelphia with Iceland tourism and convention officials.
All 183 passengers on Flight 828 that departed Philadelphia International shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday on the inaugural flight, and new route, to Iceland were being accommodated on one of the three nonstop Icelandair flights leaving Boston on Wednesday at 2:35 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m., an airline spokesman said.
“We were on our way, over Nova Scotia, when there was a smell detected from the rear of the aircraft,” said Icelandair spokesman Michael Raucheisen, who was on the original Tuesday flight. “Apparently, it smelled like some sort of rubber.”
Icelandair CEO Birkir Holm Gudnason cuts a cake to celebrate Icelandair’s inaugural flight to Philadelphia as Reykjavik’s Mayor Dagur Eggertsson (left) and Philadelphia’s Mayor Kenney look on. The cake was designed by the Night Kitchen bakery in Chestnut Hill.
“The pilots came back and smelled it. They said, ‘We think it’s best to find out what this smell is before we continue flying.’ It was 100 percent a safety call,” Raucheisen said.
The Boeing 547-200 was diverted to Boston, where Icelandair has a “full staff and maintenance team,” the spokesman said.
“Today, the mechanics have looked over the aircraft and they see nothing wrong,” Raucheisen said. However, the pilots wanted to know more about the smell before flying passengers. The airline will do a “test flight,” he said.
What began as a celebration at the aircraft gate in Philadelphia at 6 p.m. Tuesday with Icelandic hot dogs and meatballs, music, champagne, and cake from the Night Kitchen bakery in Chestnut Hill ended at 12:35 a.m. when the Iceland-bound flight landed in Boston.
“It’s unfortunate that this happy, awesome, celebratory day had to end this way,” Raucheisen said. “People were surprisingly understanding, and we appreciated that.
“Certainly, it’s frustrating for everyone when something like this happens. But I think everyone understood that it was done with safety in mind.”