Traveling is not always a moment of joy as could be seen yesterday when a passenger passed away during a Singapore Airlines flight from New Delhi, India to Changi Airport.
The gentleman who was only in his 30s was traveling with his family on the flight to Singapore.
A scenario that keeps many frequent and infrequent travelers at time busy is thought of how well can you be catered to in case of a medical emergency in the air. Most of us heard announcements before where the crew is asking for a medical professional. Sometimes such as in this case it might be too late though.
Channel New Asia (access here) reported about the death of a young man in his 30’s who passed away during his flight this Wednesday.
A passenger died during a Singapore Airlines flight heading to Singapore from New Delhi in India on Wednesday morning (Feb 10).
The airline spokesperson said in an email reply to Channel NewsAsia: “We can confirm with regret that a passenger had passed away on flight SQ403 from New Delhi to Singapore today.”
The plane was not diverted, added the spokesperson.
“For privacy purposes, we are unable to share any further details. Our condolences go out to the family of the passenger at this time.”
According to a source who was onboard the flight, the deceased was “a man in his 30s, and was travelling with his wife and child”. SIA declined to confirm these details.
Though tragic, incidents such as these are not uncommon given the volume of air travel these days which is why I decided to look closer at the topic of casualties in the air.
I remembered reading a related article about a year ago and decided to search for it. I was successful finding it on NJ.com (access it here) and it contains quite a few details how such a case is being handled.
What happens when a passenger dies mid-flight?
The response varies, experts say, depending on the location of the plane, the duration of the flight and the wishes of family or friends traveling with the deceased passenger.
And the Federal Aviation Administration does not have regulations for how airlines should respond when a passenger dies during a flight, a spokeswoman said.
“When there’s nothing else to do from the medical standpoint then it becomes an operational decision,” said Dr. Paulo Alves, the global medical director of aviation health for MedAire, a company that provides airlines with medical help from emergency care doctors on the ground. If the flight is full, with no place to put the body without disrupting other passengers, and the plane is able to land, Alves said a pilot may decide to do so and have the body removed.
Often passengers pass away during their sleep just as they would sleep in their own bed or on the couch. In such cases it’s more or less unnoticed until the plane has landed or is in the landing preparations.
If a decision is made to proceed with the flight, Alves said, “as much as possible, they’ll try to put the body back on a seat.”
“It’s usually not the procedure to lay the body on the floor, the aisle or the galley because of safety concerns,” he said.
While Alves said he’s heard stories of deceased passengers being placed in the restroom, he said “this is not a recommended practice” because rigor mortis may complicate removing the body.
A veteran Port Authority Police source said crew members typically try to move the body to the rear galley of the aircraft, out of sight of other passengers. In some cases, the source said, the body is left in its seat and covered, and nearby passengers are moved.
When a death occurs on a flight bound for Newark Liberty, John F. Kennedy International or LaGuardia Airport, Port Authority police are notified and respond to the plane, the source said. Typically, the source said, the police will carry the body out on a stretcher from a rear exit of the aircraft using a lift truck and then placed in an ambulance.
All logistics aside I think having a death occur on a flight is a situation that can be difficult and distressing for crew, nearby passengers and especially travel companions of the deceased.
Our condolences go out to the family of the deceased in this case. I decided to handle this topic because the initial case has very little details about the individual and circumstances of his passing, making it a bit less personal to write and read about the topic. Let’s hope that we all continue to travel healthy and without any serious incidents.