Woman Refunded Half Her Airfare After Being Forced To Sit Next To A Corpse For 10 Hours

A Swedish woman was in a bit of a troubling situation, after her rowmate died shortly after take off on a Kenya Airways flight. She flew from Europe to Tanzania and because there were no other seats available, she was stuck next to him. In response to the unfortunate circumstance, the airline has refunded half of her airfare.

According to a report in the Expressen daily, via The Local, the woman said she realized her fellow passenger wasn’t feeling too well when they boarded in Amsterdam.

“He was sweating and was having convulsions,” she said, adding that the plane took off anyway.

Shortly after the plane was airborne, the staff asked for medical help to do everything they could for the man, including a cardiac massage. He died a few hours later. The woman said she was then obliged to sit next to the dead man for the remainder of the overnight flight.

“Of course it was unpleasant, but I am not a person who makes a fuss,” she told the paper.

Since she had somewhat of a dissatisfactory experience, she sought compensation from the airline. After months of back and forth, she was finally refunded about $713 — roughly half the cost of her airfare.
Which is apparently totally cool with her.

“This feels much better. It is reasonable,” she said.

Swede nets refund after flying with dead man [The Local]


Edit Your Comment

  1. penuspenuspenus says:

    Maybe her employer will give her another vacation to make up for it.

  2. Coffee says:

    If this were an American, she would be traumatized, fighting off night terrors, and unable to perform day-to-day activities. There would be so much pain and suffering.

    Hell, even I think that the compensation was a little weak – couldn’t you have refunded the woman the entire cost of her ticket – but I’m happy that she received compensation that was satisfactory for her.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Yeah, this is exactly what I was thinking. An American would have also filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

    • quieterhue says:

      I agree, but the disturbing part is that she had to go through “months of back in forth” in order to receive satisfactory compensation.

    • springboks says:

      There are very few Americans who go to Tanzania, perhaps those hard willed mission workers or tourists, they’re around death and poverty all the time. If you survive talking a piss at the Dar-Es-Sallam airport, the thought of a dead corpse next to you really won’t bother you. American or otherwise.

    • Beyond Redemption says:

      I’m sure you have no problem hanging with corpses.

  3. Portlandia says:

    I will sit next to a fresh corpse over a screaming kid any day.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I second that. Today’s my first day at home since school left out. I can hear the kids 5 houses away screaming and yelling. Well, at least they’re playing outside and not sitting in front of the TV.

    • Scram says:

      HAHAHAHA! Amen to that…

    • DadCooks says:

      Might even smell better. Plus you can ask for extra peanuts for your “friend” ;-)

      • blogger X says:

        Just as long as the corpse isn’t making moaning sounds, I ‘d do it.

      • rav3 says:

        you know corpses evacuate themselves as sphincters all over the body stop doing their job right? I just rather take a baby than THAT experience, never mind the fact of having a corpse, sitting next to you might actually do some business on your head.

      • dangermike says:

        This is why it’s always a good idea to keep a little twine (dental floss might work in a pinch) and a spare set of sunglasses whenever you fly.

        “My friend here would like another vodka tonic, and more peanuts, please. Bernie! Keep your hands to yourself. These nice ladies work hard, and they don’t need you getting all grabby!”

    • IfThenElvis says:

      She didn’t sit next to a dead guy. She sat across the aisle from him. If they covered him with a blanket then there’s no grounds for a refund.

  4. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Why couldn’t the flight crew have removed the corpse to another section of the aircraft, instead of letting it sit there? Couldn’t they have wrapped him in a blanket and maybe put him in the galley until the plane landed?

    And why would they let an obviously sick person, who was sweating and having convulsions, on the plane in the first place? How did the airline/flight crew know what was really wrong with him? He could have had a communicable disease.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Well, they originally planned to put dark sunglasses on him and then have a series of hilarious antics where they would try to trick bystander into thinking he’s alive, but the plane was too full for that nonsense.

    • MaxH42 sees what you did there says:

      I agree they probably should have checked him out before letting him board, but I think there’s barely room in the galley for a live, upright body, much less a dead one. Space on planes is at a premium, as any passenger over 5’6″ can tell you. :)

    • penuspenuspenus says:

      Ever deal with a dead body before? It’s a whole to-do with police, detectives, and the coroner to determine there was no foul play. It’s not simply “let’s roll him out.” If they had disturbed the body they would be in for a long night of questions. Just speaking from experience.

      On the other part, I think you are asking a sky waitress to put on a doctor role which I don’t think is her job. How about ticket agent, security, etc? They have more authority and experience with this and would be my first target for blame.

      • Delphinia says:

        Actually, part of a flight attendant’s job is to “put on a doctor role”. For one, they have to administer first aid to the best of their abilities in any situation, as a doctor or nurse won’t happen to be on the passenger manifest on every flight. For another, they’re expected to be able to assess whether a passenger is sick enough to possibly require an emergency landing, and the decision to deny them boarding is up to them, the same as it is with passengers who are drunk. (Ultimately, it’s up to the pilot, but they’re not going to see every passenger boarding.) There have been many cases where a passenger who was getting over a cold or food poisoning but looked like death was denied boarding because the crew was afraid they’d get too sick in-flight. Unfortunately they’re not going to catch everything in the few minutes before take-off, and if all they saw was this guy sweating they could have chalked it up to nerves.

    • Preppy6917 says:

      Because placing a corpse in the galley would be blocking an exit.

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “Of course it was unpleasant, but I am not a person who makes a fuss,” she told the paper.

    Seems like if she had made a fuss in the first place, the passenger would have been noticed before the flight took off, and that would have possibly saved the passenger from dying.

    In other words, I interpretted this to be that she saw the man gaving convulsions and said NOTHING to the flight staff. I’m sure she was not the only one who saw something and said nothing as well.

    • Anathema777 says:

      Really? We’re making stuff up now just so someone has a chance to blame the OP? The article says that the flight attendants were there when the man was sweating and having convulsions, but that the flight took off anyway.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        From the article, she saw the convulsions pre-flight and did nothing.

        From the article, she says she doesn’t want to make a fuss.

        Making stuff up? Not at all.

        Then, I placed the blame on EVERYONE who saw what was going on and did nothing, said nothing. That would include the flight attendents themselves if they were aware of his condition.

        • Anathema777 says:

          “I interpretted this to be that she saw the man gaving (sic) convulsions and said NOTHING to the flight staff.”

          What did you want her to say? The flight attendants were already there and already knew about the situation. Unless the article also said that the woman was a doctor, I don’t know what your reasons are for thinking she should have been second guessing the flight crew.

        • HogwartsAlum says:

          It would be the flight attendants’ responsibility to deal with a sick passenger, not another passenger. They already were aware of it. She’s not to blame. There is nothing she could have done anyway.

    • Harry Greek says:

      Actually, she slipped him the very poison that killed him.

      She then stuffed his corpse with the diamonds she stole from the local mine. As well as the photgraphic evidence of her murdering every one in the surrounding villages of the mine.

      And,… she refused to turn off her electronics. Even so far as keeping her Automatic Plane Crashing Gizmo on “flaming ball of pain and death” through out the entire duration of the flight.

    • Marshmelly says:

      Where does it say she “did nothing”? From the article: “He was sweating and was having convulsions,” she told SR, adding that although the flight attendants were present, the plane took off all the same.”

      This implies that the flight attendants WERE aware of his condition before takeoff (but chose not to act on it until after the plane was airborne), so I’m not sure what your argument is. It doesn’t directly state that she was the one who told them (or if flight staff just discovered his condition making their rounds, or if another passenger told them) but either way the flight staff did know BEFORE take off, so I’m not sure what you expected her to do beyond that point. I doubt that the women was a doctor.

  6. Vox Republica says:

    And yet when I pointed out that everybody on my flight to Long Beach was an evil skeleton sent to drag me into Hell, everybody was all “calm down, sir” and “please put your pants on” and “[the sound of an air marshal’s fist hitting me in the throat].” Still waiting for that refund.

  7. IamJohnBrown says:

    I wonder why Swedes seem to have such a high freak-out threshold.

  8. Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

    She – and the surrounding passengers, if any – may have had more than just the physical presence of the deceased as a problem. Freshly deceased often void at the time of their passing, and the odor of bodily fluids/solids would be disgusting enough to warrant a full refund at the minimum.

    But, other than that, at least she didn’t have to put up with annoying chatter from an obnoxious passenger who just HAS to talk to you.

    • Schildkrote says:

      “But, other than that, at least she didn’t have to put up with annoying chatter from an obnoxious passenger who just HAS to talk to you.”

      Yeah man, I HATE human contact. All I wanted to do was finish this copy of Fifty Shades of Grey and this person next to me keeps trying to break the desperate silence of human existence by communicating with another living soul. How dare they!

      • dks64 says:

        We have every right to be annoyed by someone who won’t leave us alone. You’re assuming that we don’t have enough human contact normally and that we’re hermits because we don’t want to talk to a stranger. My job is to talk to strangers, sometimes I just want peace.

      • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

        damn skippy!

  9. Tegan says:

    Completely unrelated, but is anyone else getting page load errors after the switch to WordPress? About every other page load (whether opening an article or refreshing the main page) results in the following:
    A temporary error has occurred. If the problem persists, please contact support@wpengine.com or check our status blog for updates.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      Me. Constantly. I’m using Firefox, and I haven’t tried it in IE, yet.

    • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

      Me too, using Firefox, latest version. Quite annoying.

    • Tegan says:

      Hah, and when I tried to post that comment, it spun for 3 minutes then came back with a 502 error, although it apparently still posted because when I tried to refresh it told me I was trying to post a duplicate comment. So at least there’s that.

    • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

      Yes. Using the ancient IE7 as mandated by my office.

    • Hawkins says:

      Constant errors. And s-l-o-w.

      I’m considering not paying this month’s Consumerist bill. THAT’s how angry I am.

    • Phred says:


    • GaijenSoft says:

      I love how people are reporting what browser they are using. Their browser and the version is meaningless 90% of the time when it comes to a server error.

      • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

        Agreed, but almost always that’s the first (or second) question they ask when you report connection problems

  10. Karney says:

    “Of course it was unpleasant, but I am not a person who makes a fuss,” she told the paper.

    I’m not a person who makes a fuss, she says as she is reporting it to the media.

  11. Schildkrote says:

    “She flew from Europe to Tanzania and because there were no other seats available.”

    The blurb for this article on the homepage has errors, but at least the article itself is relatively okay!

  12. Jevia says:

    From the linked article:

    “With Kenya Airways staff seemingly baffled by the events and their next course of action, Pettersson was obliged to sit only a narrow aisle away from the dead man for the remainder of her overnight flight.”

    I initially thought she had to literally sit next to him, which would have been, just eww. It seems at least that she got to move across the aisle, which, while not great, is at least better.

    I can’t imagine having to sit next to a dead person, because, as pointed out above, they do tend to release their bowels. Another reason not to put them in the galley, next to food? Double ewwww!

    That said, I agree that had this been an American, it would have been a huge lawsuit with the passenger asking for millions for “pain and suffering.” The difference between American’s use of litigation and European’s is night and day.

  13. spartan says:

    On a recent flight from Atlanta to LAX, I sat next to 2 immigrants who had flown from some small town in India to a hub in India; to Cairo to Paris and to Atlanta.

    I cant imagine sitting next to a dead guy would be any worse than being jammed into the window seat of a 757 next to two people that hadn’t showered in 4 continents.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      My mind was singing this song when I was reading your comment —

      “Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take you to
      Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama…”

  14. phonic says:

    I’m personally surprised they didn’t land the plan somewhere as an emergency, but just kept flying to the destination.

  15. dks64 says:

    There is one airline that has a place to store a body in case something like this happens. Every airline should have that.

  16. gman863 says:

    Okay….the guy was obviously ill when he got on the plane, then croaked soon after takeoff.

    Two BIG issues nobody has posted yet:

    Someone needs to tell the retaded African flight crew there’s something called an EMERGENCY LANDING. Sinply radio the nearest airport, land and have the corpse removed. If African pilots are that stupid, it’s no wonder their airliners crash more often than those on any other continent.

    IT might also be a good idea to figure out WHAT THIS GUY DIED FROM. Since he had fever and sweats before going stiff, things like Monkey Pox and Ebola Virus come to mind. This woman (along with everyone else on the plane) may now be walking disease time bombs.

  17. CompyPaq says:

    Enter text…

  18. Warren - the Original Chocolate Cake with Eyes! says:

    Better this than a woman holding a screaming infant.

    Although some dead people do fart… That would be nasty.

  19. evilpete says:

    They couldent move the Corpse to a jump seat or the attendents room ( assuming it was a 747 or better )

  20. Press1forDialTone says:

    She should have been issued an immediate refund for the entire cost of the flight and
    given a free round-trip 1st class ticket. That would have been the right thing to do and
    just how often is this going to happen? Not often. The airline could have scored big with
    treating her right. Sigh. Bastards.

  21. MarkFL says:

    Believe it or not, this very topic is mentiioned in the current issue of Mental Floss (“10 Shocking Secrets of Flight Attendants”). According to the flight attendant who provided the information in the article, nobody officially dies during a flight unless there is a doctor on board to make the pronouncement. Apparently the only commerical airline actually prepared for this situation is Singapore Airlines, whose aircraft have a “corpse cupboard.” If you’re on another airline and the guy next to you happens to get his own pair of wings (not pilot’s wings), you’d best hope there is an empty row of seats somewhere.

    The article also mentions that people sometimes try to smuggle dead bodies on to flights because shipping dead bodies is really expensive — up to $5000, depending on the destination. One guy actually stuffed his dead mother into a garment bag and tried to sneak her on to a flight. Doesn’t say how he got her to meet the size requirements, which has to be difficult once rigor mortis sets in.

    • gman863 says:

      “The article also mentions that people sometimes try to smuggle dead bodies on to flights…

      If you get caught, lie your way out of it by claiming you’re auditioning for the remake of Weekend At Bernie’s.

  22. pagoff says:

    It was even more traumatic for the victim. One would have thought that the airline would have returned to the airport with a seriously ill passenger just after take-off.

    The flight was not transatlantic, there was the originating airport and ones along the way that could have offered better services than those available in-flight.

    I’ve seen US carriers do such when confronted with medical emergencies.

    • MarkFL says:

      “It was even more traumatic for the victim. ”

      Really? Do people suffer trauma after they are dead?

      At least it wasn’t one of those flights that was stranded on the tarmac for six hours.

      • pagoff says:

        Dear cynical Mark, it’s really really really traumatic for a person to die over a period of hours without competent medical care.

  23. Kamaria says:

    Should have paid off the whole thing. It seems kind of insincere to pay off half…it’s like saying, ‘we care, but not enough to completely compensate you for your awful experience’.

  24. do-it-myself says:

    —–>”He was sweating and was having convulsions,” she said, adding that the plane took off anyway.

    What? Something doesn’t seem right here. What airline is this so I know to avoid it.