General Question

starboyg's avatar

If someone dies on a plane, how do they transport the body back?

Asked by starboyg (201points) April 6th, 2011

If they left from Dallas and died mid flight to California, how do they get the body back to Dallas? Do they fly it at the expense of the family?

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8 Answers

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

What would make you think of such a strange scenario? I would guess that they would land in California and leave the body in the care of the local authorities, who would then contact the family. If the family wanted the body returned to Dallas, then yes, they would have to pay for transport.

The next question would be, “what if he had a round-trip ticket?”

WestRiverrat's avatar

Yes they fly it as cargo at the expense of the family. Or you can hire someone to drive it back.

Meego's avatar

Emergency landing, then arrangements are made from there. As for the expense part that is why you should always purchase travellers insurance.

Neurotic_David's avatar

When someone died on a D.C. -> LAX plane I was on, we made an emergency landing (in Omaha) so they could remove the body. Doesn’t answer your question directly, but I wanted to add my experience in. :)

geeky_mama's avatar

I have been on 2 flights where someone died. (I fly a LOT)
On the international flight (I forget whether it was transatlantic or pacific) they made a woman in First Class give up her seat and placed the passenger who’d just died in the first row of first class, covered up by a blanket.
They did this because it was an elderly woman traveling with her family and they were upset at sitting next to her (lifeless) body for the duration of the flight.

On the other flight, a male passenger experienced sudden cardiac death when we were within an hour of our destination. Luckily (?) the flight was not very full, so they moved passengers away from the area the man was sitting, had two doctors on the flight (they asked for doctors to identify themselves) and a few flight attendants held up blankets and provided a bit of a barrier for privacy..but there was nothing to do to help the guy.
They had everyone stay in their seat when we landed and had an ambulance crew meet the plane and take the man’s body off the plane first before the rest of us deplaned.

I often think back to that flight where the deceased body was moved to first class. That was a big trans-pacific flight where there are crew bunks. They could have moved the deceased to the area where the crew bunk beds are…but they didn’t. Instead they inconvenienced a first class passenger.

At the risk of sounding heartless, if I’d been the person asked to give up her 1st class seat and go sit in coach for the duration of the 12 hour flight I think I’d have said something like: “What? She’s dead-she can’t enjoy the upgrade now..”

After your loved one dies in a city other than where you want to bury them the airline will contact you—and it’s up to YOU to make arrangements. Many funeral homes will come pick up (drive the hearse) from an out-of-state mortuary.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If you ever need to move a body a long distance for a funeral or burial, get it embalmed before it makes the trip. We had to fly my brothers body from NC to ND when he died. It sat for 8 hours in the heat of the day on the apron in the Dallas airport in July waiting for a connecting flight with room for the coffin.

Kayak8's avatar

There is a book funeral directors use that is typically referred to as “The Red Book.” It is a directory of all the licensed funeral homes in the country. Obviously if you had a product to sell to funeral directors (little praying hands statues or urns, etc.), the Red Book is the place to do it. The book is rarely seen by those not in the field and so the adds can be rather targeted. There are several companies who provide the service of coordinating the return of remains from one part of the country to another. To this day, my very favorite advertisement I have ever seen was from KLM airlines and it was in the Red Book. Picture a black and white photo of a KLM plane with some clouds. The caption read, “On time arrival for the already departed.” I still crack up every time I think of this.

Oh, one other thing . . . once a person is placed in a casket and before the casket is loaded into the non-pressurized luggage area of the plane, one of the loading crew (or someone from the funeral home doing the drop-off) must use a special key that essentially allows air movement in the casket. Otherwise, at higher altitudes as the pressure outside the casket drops, the otherwise airtight casket would implode if there was no way to equalize the pressure inside the casket.

JLeslie's avatar

@WestRiverrat I can’t believe that happened (I believe you, I just never would think they would not care for the body appropriately). Did they ask if he had been embalmed? Some religions don’t allow bodies to be embalmed.

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