Tragedy As Passenger Presumed To Be Sleeping Is Found Deceased On British Airways Flight

A British Airways (BA) passenger believed to be sleeping by fellow passengers was sadly found deceased on board a Nice-bound flight last week. The passenger is believed to have suffered a heart attack on board. However, further details on the incident and the passenger’s identity have yet to be released.

British Airways Plane
A passenger on board British Airways Flight 348 was found deceased on Thursday last week © Ken Fielding

Passenger Presumed To Be Sleeping Is Found Deceased – British Airways Flight Tragedy

A 73-year-old female passenger tragically passed away on board a British Airways flight last Thursday in a tragic incident that left crew members and fellow passengers shocked.

The passenger was travelling on BA Flight 348 from Heathrow Airport (LHR), London, England, to Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE), Nice, France, on Thursday last week.

Fellow passengers believed the woman to be asleep but became suspicious upon landing when the individual in question remained still and was not able to be roused whilst other passengers began collecting their belongings.

Flight attendants were alerted to the situation by concerned passengers and the emergency services were called to the scene. Paramedics sadly pronounced the passenger dead at around 10 p.m. local time following unsuccessful attempts to revive her.

The passenger is reported to have suffered a heart attack during the flight, although this has yet to be confirmed. In addition, the identity and nationality of the passenger are not currently known, nor whether she was travelling alone or with friends/family members.

Nice, France
Last week’s tragedy took place on board a British Airways flight to Nice, France © Jean Michel

Deaths On Board Aircraft – How Airline Staff Respond

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), there is one fatality for every 287 million passengers carried by UK operators, making on-board deaths an extremely rare event. However, although rare, airline staff must be prepared to deal with on-board deaths in a practical and compassionate manner.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) issues guidance to airlines regarding on-board deaths, including when to cease resuscitation and how to deal with the death or presumed death of a passenger on board an aircraft.

If a passenger is presumed dead, the IATA’s guidelines advise for their body to be moved to a seat, away from other passengers if possible. At the discretion of the crew, the body may be moved to another area of the plane not obstructing aisles and exits. The body must be covered, either by a body bag if available or a blanket, and restrained.

Where the relevant information is available, airlines must heed do not resuscitate orders (DNRs) and also follow strict guidelines on handling the body of the deceased if communicable diseases are suspected.

Although aircraft crew members are trained to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), they are not legally certified to pronounce a passenger dead and must therefore contact the relevant medical authorities.

Cabin Crew Member
Cabin crew members must respond to presumed deaths in the correct manner © Austrian Airlines

Kenya Airways – Two On-Board Deaths Within Just Over A Week Of Each Other

Although the aforementioned statistics presented by the CAA indicate that on-board deaths are a rarity, last year, during the autumn, two passengers died in separate incidents within just over a week of each other on board Kenya Airways flights.

In the first incident in August, passenger Peterson Njuguna Mwangi, travelling from New York, USA, to Nairobi, Kenya, developed breathing difficulties seven hours into his flight. Cabin crew members administered first aid, but worsening of the passenger’s condition forced the plane to reroute to Casablanca, Morocco, so that emergency services on the ground could respond to the situation. The passenger was sadly pronounced dead by medical officials.

The second incident, this time in September and en route from Nairobi to New York, involved a passenger who was found unresponsive mid-flight. Further medical examination by crew members revealed that the passenger had sadly passed away.

Everyone at Travel Radar sends their condolences to the family and friends of the passenger involved in last week’s British Airways tragedy.

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Rachel Dunster
Rachel Dunster
Aviation Reporter