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Sympathies for friends & families of passengers dying inflight

Sympathies for friends & families of passengers dying inflight

Old Dec 9, 03, 4:20 pm
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Join Date: Aug 2001
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Sympathies for friends & families of passengers dying inflight

First, I would like to express my sincere sympathies for the loved ones of all those passengers who have passed away onboard a flight. It is hard to imagine how hard it must be to learn at the airport that the person you were expecting did not survive the flight. Especially painful for those who witness the death of a loved one on the plane and have to deal with this difficult situation inflight, away from home, without the support of the family and trapped onboard.

It is unlikely that the persons accompanying the passenger who passed away on a recent BA flight from Cape Town to London is reading this, but I do feel with them and wanted to express my condolences.

* * *

The above raises the question and I hope we can discuss this without being disrespectful how crews deal (or should deal) with medical emergencies and deaths inflight. In this case, a medical doctor onboard must have treated the patient and have declared the death about two hours into the flight. This left the persons accompanying the passenger and those crew and passengers who witnessed the incident trapped on the plane for another 9 hours! And although obviously less traumatic, it might have been difficult for those who were seated close to the body wrapped in blankets and moved into a flat first class seat. I have to admit that sitting 4 rows away did affect me somewhat and the strain could clearly be felt in this part of the cabin.

It probably happens occasionally and the crews are trained for such incidents. Even though the crew acted very professionally, the stress was clearly visible. The fact that food and drinks service had to continue on the long flight did not make it any easier. Overall a very difficult situation and I do not know the details, but it wonder if leaving the deceased in a seat and continuing the flight was the right decision.
Greg45 is offline  
Old Dec 9, 03, 5:01 pm
Join Date: Sep 2000
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But what else to do? Divert the flight then send a message to the family that not only has their loved one passed away on the flight but that the body is x-thousand miles away??
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Old Dec 9, 03, 5:30 pm
Join Date: Jan 2001
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It would seem that they might be able to store the body in a less conspicuous place, possibly in one of the lavs? I would think most passengers would rather be inconvenienced by a closed lav than be seated next to the deceased. Is there any other storage area accessible in-flight?
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Old Dec 9, 03, 6:32 pm
Join Date: Apr 2002
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Winter housecleaning!

Last edited by CharlesMD; Jan 23, 05 at 4:23 pm
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Old Dec 9, 03, 6:49 pm
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Could they be stored in the crew rest area in the tail of a 747 ?
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Old Dec 10, 03, 1:55 am
Join Date: Feb 2000
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It does happen with so regularity as well. This year I've heard of a couple. I've consulted my "BA Silverbook" and there is no mention made. I think it really is up to the Senior Purser to use their experince and discreation.
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Old Dec 10, 03, 4:55 am
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: ingelheim
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An episode of Airport quoted an average of 9 persons dead upon arrival at LHR each year (think it was nine anyway). I think where is it possible, simply cover the body with a blanket. There aren't too many places on a wide-body aircraft that won't be seen by a lot of passengers - in short no best solution, you have to do the best you can, be respectful and try to put the feelings of any family/friends first before the needs of other passengers.

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Old Dec 10, 03, 6:15 am
Join Date: Apr 2001
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Well, I do have a friend who was working a long flight (OZ-UK) and one of the passengers (an elderly chap) passed away on the flight.

I believe it was 'night' on board, so once the crew were notified, there wasn't too much they could do (I believe the CSD will consult with the captain) and they covered the chap with a blanket. The flight didn't divert as there wasn't much they could do at that point.

The crew were very sympathetic to the new widow. There, there there love. Have another cup of tea - as is the British custom.

The kicker was that when they came to serve her breakfast she said "Well seeing as he won't be eating his, can I have it?"
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Old Dec 10, 03, 9:59 pm
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I flew YYZ to FRA a few years ago on LH and had the person in front of me pass away about halfway through the flight. An emergency diversion to Iceland was initially contemplated but was subsequently rejected (after dropping a few thousand feet) as the passenger had already died at this point.
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Old Dec 15, 03, 10:18 am
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Ft Worth, Texas
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...and there's always this story...

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Taken from http://www.salon.com/travel/diary/he...r/index1.html:

During a full flight between New York and London, a passenger noticed that the sleeping man in the window seat looked a bit pale. Sensing that something was wrong yet not wanting to wake him, the concerned passenger alerted flight attendants, who soon determined that the sleeping man was actually dead. Apparently, he had died a few hours earlier because his body was completely cold. Horrified by the prospect of sitting next to a dead man, the passenger demanded another seat. But the flight was completely full; every single seat was occupied. Finally one flight attendant had an inspiration. She approached a uniformed military officer, and he agreed to sit next to the dead man for the duration of the flight.</font>

Urban myth or is there truth in that? Anyone know?
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