Dying Mid-flight. First Class or a Storage Bin?

I was at potluck tonight of Central Ohio Returned Peace Corps volunteers (CORVA) when someone mentioned the person who died on the British Airways flight last week. The dead woman, as described in the post by gadling blogger Jonathon Morgan, was strapped into a first class seat for the rest of the journey from India to Great Britain. Another first class passenger woke up to find the elderly dead woman sliding out of the seatbelt to the floor next to him and the serenity of his expensive seat being disrupted by the wails of her grieving daughter. This passenger, according to my friends, has decided to sue the airlines.

After Jonathon’s post on March 19, there have been other accounts and blogs written. Evidently, a person dying on a flight is not that uncommon. It’s never happened on one of the flights I’ve been on that I’ve been aware of, but some airlines have contingency plans if someone does expire after take-off.

According to an article I came across, on average, 10 people a year die on British Airways flights. On Virgin Atlantic, there were 2 in the past twelve months. Supposedly, on its 17 hour flights, Singapore Airlines’ planes have a special cupboard for a dead person if need be.

On some airlines, an overhead bin might be used. It depends on the circumstances, the airlines, and I suppose, how much carry-on luggage is already stored. If someone dies in flight, it’s not so easy to turn the plane around. A person who takes off alive, and returns to the departure point dead, generates a mountain of paperwork. Also, people who are still alive might like to get where they were planning on going in a timely manner. Forging ahead is often the best solution.