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When on the way to a five-star holiday, the last thing that crosses travellers’ minds is that they may sit next to a dead body on the plane. But, as unlikely as it may sound, anyone could encounter such a scenario.
In the unfortunate case to witness someone’s sudden death on board, you’ll see that airlines follow strict procedures to get the body to land.
Billions of passengers travel across the globe every year… It would be a miracle for no one to ever die during the journey.
Officially, only a licensed doctor or medical professional can pronounce someone dead. However, that doesn’t mean that flight attendants just watch and observe.
When a passenger is at risk of death, “all systems go”, and flight attendants are expected to act swiftly. In fact, they are prepared to know what to do so that the process is as straightforward as possible.
A Ryanair spokesperson told The Sun that the dead body would “usually be moved to an empty row or business class”.
To find out what exactly goes on behind the scenes and how procedures vary from airline to airline, The Mirror asked a flight attendant for insider knowledge: “All the crew have a medical action plan where roles are assigned from training, they work together to complete the medical in an efficient way so that no one is stressed and everyone remains calm and collected.
“We can’t actually pronounce someone dead, but we can divert to an airport where we are met by a medical team.
“When the flight lands, the crew are met by a care team in case they need support after what they have experienced.”
On a long-haul Air New Zealand flight in business class from Los Angeles to Auckland, passenger Sue Jackman saw her husband die. After laying down, he never woke up. Four hours later, Sue was still sitting next to him.
She shared her experience on Quora: “He wouldn’t wake up. I got a flight steward who then went and fetched a passenger who was a doctor. He performed the usual signs-of-life tests and declared him deceased approximately four hours prior to landing.
“He stayed in his sleeper, covered with a blanket for the rest of the journey, and I lay beside him and held him until we landed.
“It was traumatic, but I had four hours with him to say goodbye that I would not have had on land. It was also comforting to know that there were others with me who—even though they were strangers—never intruded, but were very supportive.”
But where and when precisely did Sue’s husband die – in LA or Auckland? According to his death certificate, it was on Flight NZ5 at the time he was examined and declared dead in the air.
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