What happens when someone dies mid-flight?

With an estimated 3.3 billion people travelling on about 27 million flights annually, there have been many sudden deaths aboard planes.

Airlines have special procedures in place to deal with these eventualities, such as special compartments on planes where they can store a body, according to a report in a local publication recently.

Most of the time the other passengers are not informed if a person dies, to prevent people from getting upset or panicking.

Bodies are normally stored in a compartment in the first class section.

Singapore Airlines, which operated the then-new Airbus A340-500 planes in 2004, was the first airline to have a discreet locker built next to one of the plane's exit doors, long enough to store an average-sized body, with special straps to prevent any movement during a bumpy landing, according to reports.

Cabin crew were instructed to use the locker in the event of a death on a long-haul flight — particularly if the aircraft was busy, with no free seats on which to lay out the deceased, the report stated.

Other airlines have special bags for corpses and train their crews to move and then store the bodies. If there is space available, crews have to leave the dead body in a seat, tied down, and covered with a blanket.

If a death occurs just as a plane takes off, the pilot returns to the airport and unloads the body.

An official at Saudi Arabian Airlines, who preferred anonymity, said the airline has special bags for corpses.

All airlines pay for the cost of the body to be sent to the country of origin, the official said.

TNS

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