Questions have been raised about the provision of “corpse cupboards” on commercial flights after a diabetic woman, who died after an in-flight seizure, was laid out in the aisle of a passenger plane in front of horrified tourists.
The woman, 50, had packed her insulin in her hold baggage by mistake and couldn’t obtain the injection she needed to save her life.
The tragic case, which occurred on a tourist flight from the Turkish resort of Antalya, has received much coverage in British media. The woman died just 45 minutes into the three-and-a-half-hour Moscow-bound flight, the Sun reported. Cabin crew aboard the Azur Air flight were unable to resuscitate her.
The woman’s husband told Russian media his wife had taken a shot of insulin just an hour before boarding the B757, so she felt she didn’t need to carry it with her in flight.
Because the flight was full, attendants had no choice but to lay the victim’s body in the aisle and cover it with a blanket. Photos of that, as above, have circulated on social media.
The Daily Mail reported that larger planes are usually equipped with a closed area unofficially known as a “corpse cupboard”, which is used to store the bodies of passengers who die suddenly during flight.
Experts at the US aviation blog BoardingArea dispute this, however. A writer stated that corpse cupboards are rare in the air these days and there’s never one around when you need one.
“I know Singapore’s A340-500s, which operated the world’s two longest flights, had such ‘cupboards,’ but those planes have been retired. I don’t think any other planes have anything similar,” the writer stated.
Other writers speculated that difficulties with visas, and regulations governing landing with dead bodies aboard, could have influenced the pilot’s decision not to divert to an intermediate point when the crisis occurred.
The only intermediate point is Ukraine.
Written by Peter Needham