The incredulous air-traffic controller had to double-check what the desperate passenger said she had left behind when the pilot radioed in requesting to return the airport.
According to Gulf News, the airplane had already taken off when the passenger alerted the crew on the weekend Saudia airlines flight SV832 from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The bizarre request caught air-traffic officials off guard, as they scrambled to figure out whether leaving a baby behind constituted an “emergency” according to airline protocols, which are naturally strict on the criteria for turning flights around.
“May God be with us. Can we come back or what?” the pilot says in the recording, according to the translation on Gulf News.
The operator can be heard asking another colleague about the protocol.
Video goes viral on social media showing pilot requesting to head back to Jeddah
“This flight is requesting to come back …a passenger forgot her baby in the waiting area, the poor thing.”
The operator then asks the pilot to confirm again the reason for wanting to return.
The pilot was overhead speaking: “We told you, a passenger left her baby in the terminal and refuses to continue the flight.”
“Ok, head back to the gate. This is totally a new one for us!”
Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. Radar tracking sites show the usually punctual overnight Saturday flight was delayed by around 45 minutes, although there is no indication of a midair turnaround.
One of Our Five is Missing
It isn’t the first time a forgetful parent has left their child at an airport.
An Israeli couple left their 3-year-old daughter at the airport in April 2008 when they lost her in a last-minute dash for their flight.
The couple was traveling with five children on one of the busiest days of the year from Ben-Gurion Airport, according to AP.
Late for the flight, they dashed to the gate, and somehow lost their daughter, who was found later by airport police wandering around the airport.
By the time they had alerted airline staff, however, the plane had already taken off, with the couple apparently unaware that one of their five was missing until 40 minutes into the flight, when the flight attendants informed them.
The child took the next flight to Paris, accompanied by an airline staffer, where she was safely reunited with her parents.
In December last year it wasn’t something a passenger had left behind, but something the airline had accidentally left onboard, which caused a Southwest flight to head to make a U-turn back for the airport in Seattle.
A human heart had been loaded onto the plane from the previous flight, destined for a local hospital in Seattle.
But it wasn’t unloaded, staying aboard the plane that now became an evening flight to Dallas.
The plane got over 500 miles before the pilot turned back for the airport with the express purpose of returning the heart, with other passengers in tow, so that it could reach the hospital in time.
“During Flight 3606 with scheduled service from Seattle to Dallas this past Sunday evening, we learned of a life-critical cargo shipment onboard the aircraft that was intended to stay in Seattle for delivery to a local hospital,” said a representative for Southwest via email at the time. “Therefore, we made the decision to return to Seattle to ensure the shipment was delivered to its destination within the window of time allotted by our cargo customer.”