Air Corpse One: When Airline Passengers Die On Board
It's a rare but hardly new question: what should airline staff do when a passenger dies mid-flight? Legend has it that British Airways used to use the 'vodka tonic' approach.
BERLIN — When a passenger dies on a flight, what do flight attendants do with the body?
A British flight personnel trainer recently acknowledged to the Telegraph that the subject was still a "grey zone."
But she did have some concrete advice for fledgling crew members: The best course of action is to place a blanket over the body, leaving the face uncovered, until the plane arrives at its destination. She said there have been cases when a crew member was delegated to sit next to the body until the flight ended.
If there's room in first class, the corpse should be brought discreetly by wheelchair to the available seat and installed there. Passengers in the immediate vicinity should be informed. In 2006, on British Airways flight BA 213 to Boston, a deceased economy class passenger rode first class for the last three hours of the flight.
This hasn't always been the recommended procedure. British Airways used to leave deceased passengers in their seats, making them look as if they were still alive and enjoying the flight. A sleep mask was placed over their eyes, a newspaper was opened in front of them, and they were served a vodka tonic.
Die Welt asked Lufthansa how their employees dealt with this delicate issue. "There is no established procedure, as we know from experience that the situations vary greatly," a spokesperson for the airline said. "The best thing is if the person is traveling with his or her family, and can be left with them."