Dealing with death at 30,000 feet


Statistically, you’re more likely to die in a plane crash than have a medical emergency that leads to death on an airplane. Still, airlines have to be prepared for such a rare occurrence. The Associated Press found that there is no policy mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration on handling an in-flight death. That’s left up to the individual carriers, and it’s a subject the airlines don’t like to talk about. JetBlue Airlines and Northwest Airlines declined to make their policies public. Delta Airlines did not participate in the AP story either. Here’s what Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines had to say, “When there is a death aboard a flight the general procedure is to move the deceased to an area of the cabin where they can be isolated to some extent and covered in as dignified a way as possible.” The airline, it should be noted, is under scrutiny over the death last week of a 44-year-old woman.