Thursday, June 28, 2012

Come Fly The Deadly Skies

Death on an airplane is certainly not a new topic on this blog. In the March blog post "Super Savers: Mile High Edition," I wrote about two women who snuck the body of a dead relative onto an airplane leaving Germany in an effort to avoid paying repatriation fees on the body.  Here we are a few months later, and the trifecta of Europe, airplanes, and dead bodies resurfaces again.  This death story, however, has a much more uplifting ending.

Version 2.0 of "Death on an Airplane" begins in the Netherlands, where a man was sweating like crazy and experiencing some run-of-the-mill, pre-takeoff seizures. The plane took off anyway, and sure enough...he died.  Some passengers tried to come to the rescue, but attempts to resustitate the man were unsuccessful.  Crew members on the Kenya Airlines flight moved the two other passengers in his row to other seats so they wouldn't have to sit next to the corpse.

You'd think airlines would have some kind of protocol for this type of situation, but the series of events that unfolded suggests that they do not.  Unsure exactly how to handle this unusual predicament, the crew members stretched the dead body across the three seats where the man and his neighbors had been sitting and spread a blanket over him.  The Tanzania-bound flight was quite full, however, so Lena Pettersson, the woman across the aisle, had to remain seated next to the body for the rest of the flight despite her request to move to another part of the plane.

Since this was an international flight, this must have been a big plane with two lavatories.  Why not stuff the body in one of those and land a one-operational-toilet airplane in Tanzania?  Surely the passengers would rather wait a few extra minutes in the bathroom line than travel with a loosely-covered corpse in plain sight...

But this is where the story takes a turn for the positive--any time you hear about an airline compensating a customer for an uncomfortable flight, it's a huge win.  For putting up with the unexpectedly corpsey flight, Kenya Airways reimbursed Pettersson half her ticket price, or roughly $700.  When asked to comment on the ordeal, she said she felt that the compensation was fair.

 Hello cheap airfare!

Recent experience has only reinforced my views from my previous blog post about dead bodies on airplanes.  After spending three hours on a flight full of obnoxious, screaming children when I returned from vacation last week, I would pay good money for a guaranteed spot next to a dead guy on a flight.  To think that someone can actually receive a discounted fare for "enduring" a peaceful flight, free of jockeying for armrest position and getting up to let other people go to the bathroom is unfathomable...I imagine it's how Jesus travels on international flights.

On top of Pettersson's half-off airline ticket, she probably got to eat the dead guy's in-flight snack, too!  Does life--and death, in this case--get any better?  I don't know how many people out there think like me--for the sake of the world, I hope it's a big number--but the airline industry could quickly turn their fortunes around if they find a way to successfully monetize the dead body transportation business.  Like I said before, I'd happily shell out big bucks for a ticket on the winged meat-wagon...

Here's a link to the story:

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