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TikTok Flight Attendant Reveals What Happens When Someone Dies On A Plane

Simon Catling

| Last updated 

TikTok Flight Attendant Reveals What Happens When Someone Dies On A Plane

Featured Image Credit: Credit: TikTok

A TikTok user who works as a flight attendant has been letting people know what happens if someone does in the middle of a flight - and it's bad news if you happen to be the one sitting next to him.


Every day's a school day, but the lesson TikTok user Sheena Marie taught her followers in a viral TikTok video wasn't the easiest of lessons to stomach as she explained what attendants would be able to do in the event of a fatality onboard. It turns out they can't do much.

"If they have a heart attack and die, and there is nothing we can do about it, and we can't start CPR, we are just going to wait until we get to our final destination" Sheena said in the 30-second clip.

"We are going to keep that dead body where it is at."

Credit: TikTok
Credit: TikTok

She added that the body could be moved, in the event of extra space being available somewhere else, such as a full row of seats being free. The body would then be covered with blankets and medical workers would enter the plane on arrival at its destination only after customers had exited.

TikTok users were understandably shocked, with one saying saying: "If a person next to me on a plane dies and y'all try to leave them next to me I will literally jump out of the window."

Another agreed, adding: "Just know I'm sitting on someone's lap if there are no more seats."

Sadly for some witnessing death on a flight is unfortunately a real thing, however, and this was brought into sharp relief by user Susan Jackman who explained that she tragically lost her husband mid-flight on a long haul journey between Los Angeles and Auckland in New Zealand.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

She said: "We were in business class and he went to sleep in a lie flat sleeper seat and did not wake up.

"When he would not wake up I got a flight steward who then went and fetched a passenger who was a doctor. He performed the usual signs of life tests and declared him deceased approximately four hours prior to landing."

Susan added: "He stayed in his sleeper seats covered with a blanket for the rest of the journey and I lay beside him and held him until we landed."

In America, there is an official name for someone who dies on a plane: a Jim Wilson. American Airlines even have a help desk for funeral homes that's called the Jim Wilson Service.

The name apparently comes from the name of the containers are used to ship the bodies, and the use of Jim Wilson is code to allow undertakers and transport workers to communicate with each other about any fatalities without the general public being alarmed. Although this seems like a pretty open secret at this point.

One first hand account, from an anonymous traveller, explains: "I was on an early morning flight back to London after a holiday in NYC.

"We were about halfway across the Atlantic when my friend and I noticed it felt like the plane appeared to be slowing down.

"People started panicking and we noticed the airline crew were running up and down, whispering in hushed tones. Eventually the pilot explained over the tannoy that one of the passengers was 'poorly' and that we'd need to make an emergency landing."

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

"We were flying over the middle of the ocean at this point so everyone was terrified. We felt the plane do a U-turn and, after looking at the flight map, found out we were headed to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

"We didn't see the man who had taken ill as he was up front in business class, but it was clear from the crew's behaviour that something serious was happening.

"We later discovered that he had gone into cardiac arrest and the crew had spent over an hour trying to resuscitate him.

"They'd rerouted to Canada in the hopes of getting him specialist emergency treatment. He came back briefly, before sadly dying on arrival - in front of his wife.

"The plane grounded in Canada and we had to wait for several hours for the coroner to be summoned and the paperwork to be completed.

"The airline crew were traumatised and the feeling on board was claustrophobic and sombre. Finally the plane took off again, landing back in Heathrow eight hours behind schedule.

"The airline crew were absolutely amazing, and did everything they could to save him."

Simon Catling
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