How do airlines deal with the death of a passenger on a flight?

Due to the importance of flying in our modern life, it’s common to witness different accidents and/or incidents during flights. Several emergencies could happen on flights such as strokes, high blood pressure, and other medical incidents. Among all of these accidents is the death of a passenger during the flight. Although, each airline has its own protocol to handle these emergencies. But what should be done in case of death during a flight? How should the crew handle other passengers to remain calm? And how is the body handled? In this article, we will be answering these questions.

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Each plane contains several medical types of equipment for different emergency situations. The flight crew and ground control should cooperatively work together to put a plan of action that’s tailored to each specific situation. In the case of the suspicion of a death of a passenger during a flight the flight crew members ask for help from any doctor on board, if there aren’t any doctors on board then the unconscious, unresponsive, and non-breathing passenger is unfortunately dead. Crew members work hard to facilitate the matter as possible by putting the body away from the rest of the passengers.

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Short-haul flight vs. Long-haul flight

  • In case of death on a short-haul flight, the aircraft should land at a diversion airport. If the aircraft carrying a particularly heavy load, then it seems to be more reasonable to fly to its destination because the maximum landing weights planes are certified for are usually quite a bit less than their maximum takeoff weight, which is usually accounted for by the fuel that’s used in flight.
  • On a long-haul flight, it’s more complicated, as there are many places to where the aircraft can divert to. In practical terms, it makes more sense if the aircraft continue the flight to its destination, and there is a potential that the dead person’s family exists for assistance.
  • Protocols differ from one airline to another and diversions are handled on a case-to-case basis.

What happens when the plane lands?

When the plane lands and the passengers are deplaned, medical professionals usually board the plane and determine the cause of death, take the body out of the plane, and the plane is taken out of the services for sometimes to be cleaned, carpets removed, and some seats are changed.

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Corpse cupboards

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In 2004, Singapore Airlines launched a fleet of Airbus A340-500 airliners that contained a compartment suitable for average-sized bodies known as a “corpse cupboard” for its hidden purpose, no other planes are known to have such a space.

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What happens if passengers die in an accident or crash?

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Despite the rare occurrence of a plane crash, when this happens emergency crew responds immediately and searches for survivors, and handles medical needs if necessary. Then local funeral directors are immediately called to assist with handling the bodies.

Funeral directors are known as “Air Disaster Funeral Coordinators” for the importance of their role. Unfortunately, if the crash didn’t occur at a speed under 150mph, and in this case, it will be difficult to identify the identity of the bodies, maybe by clothes, or jewelry.

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Sources

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