Flight attendant explains strict rules they follow if someone dies on a plane

People are often terrified of what would happen if they or the person sitting next to them on a flight just died while the plane is in midair.

Would you have to sit next to their corpse or can you change your seat?

But as a flight attendant explained, airlines have a plan for if something that unfortunate were to occur. These are strict procedures that each airline follows.

Technically, no one except a licensed doctor or medical professional can pronounce someone dead. However, that doesn’t mean that flight attendants don’t know what they’re doing.

Every year, billions of people take flights, whether it's for business or a holiday. With so many passengers in the air all the time, there are sure to be unexpected deaths occurring on flights.

As the planes are naturally pretty cramped as it is, it’s important that the flight attendants know exactly what they’re doing, to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.

It would seem that the procedures differ depending on the airline, as a Ryanair spokesperson told The Sun that the body would 'usually be moved to an empty row or business class.'

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We spoke to a flight attendant for some insider knowledge on what goes on behind the scenes to find out exactly how they deal with the situation.

They said: “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.".

Passenger Sue Jackman was on a long-haul Air New Zealand flight in business class, where her husband lay flat in a sleeper seat and never woke up. She had to sit next to his body for four hours. Her comment was on a Quora thread titled ‘what happens when someone dies on a plane?’

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She commented: “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 4 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.

Interestingly, the death certificate said the time and place of death as the time he was examined and declared dead in the air, and the place of death was Flight NZ5 between Los Angeles and Auckland.

“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.”

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