Passengers aboard an Azur Air flight from Turkey to Russia spent three hours sitting with a corpse.
A 50-year-old unnamed woman suffered a diabetic seizure during the flight, and after attempts to revive her failed, her dead body was left in the aisle, covered with a blanket, for the remainder of the journey, reports the Daily Mail.
The woman’s husband reportedly said that she had taken her prescribed insulin injection prior to taking off, and did not bring the medication aboard because she didn’t think she would need it. Her immediate cause of death is speculated to be acute heart failure.
Instead of making an emergency landing, the pilot decided to continue the flight to Moscow as planned.
As Business Insider notes, considering that more than three billion people travel by air every year, something like this happening occasionally is inevitable.
"Considering the sheer volume of people who fly every day and the growing number of elderly people who fly, I'm surprised it doesn't actually happen more often," said commercial airline pilot Patrick Smith, author of the book “Cockpit Confidential.”
Each airline has its own policy regarding how to deal with such situations. According to Smith, "Protocols vary airline to airline. Decisions such as whether the flight should divert are handled on a case-to-case basis."
When there is a medical emergency aboard an airplane, flight attendants either communicate directly with medical professionals on the ground, or medical professionals communicate directly with the pilots, depending on airline policy, explains Business Insider.
In the case of deceased passengers, the preference is for the cabin crew to store the body in a respectful manner away from other passengers, if possible -- typically in an unoccupied row of seats.
The second-best option, as in the Azur Air incident, is that the cabin crew covers the body and places it on the floor.
Sometimes, however, the only option is to cover the corpse and strap it into a seat.