This may sound like a stupid question, but I'm really curious about that: What happens if a passenger dies on board a plane? I once read that the person is just covered with a sheet or something like that to pretend he is sleeping to not frighten other passengers. Is this really true?

  • It's true. The stewards will just lie about the real condition of the person. Jan 13, 2012 at 3:04
  • and of course the flight will be instantly diverted to the nearest airport that can accept the aircraft.
    – jwenting
    Jan 13, 2012 at 8:35
  • 1
    @jwenting I'm not so sure about that. From the link victoriah posted below, I think it is not necessary to land the airplane immediately. Jan 13, 2012 at 8:36
  • it probably depends on airline policy as well as law in both departure, destination, and host country. Same link states at least one airline has priority to get down as soon as possible for example. I've luckily never had it happen, but my father came close to dying on board once when he had a heart attack over the Atlantic. Crew were quite angry when he told them he needed a wheelchair and a doctor on landing in SFO, said he should have told them instantly so they could take emergency measures...
    – jwenting
    Jan 13, 2012 at 10:12

1 Answer 1


"What happens when someone dies on an airplane?"

Former London flight attendant Mrs Meho said there’s little cabin crew can do with a corpse, so the priority is to place the body out of sight.

“We make the body comfortable," Mrs Meho said.

"Either that means taking it somewhere discreet or lying the body flat and covering with a blanket. If there are not seats we 'prop' the body up.”

“We can place them (bodies) anywhere, but not a lavatory," Sharon said.

"We are also given the option of putting an oxygen mask on the person and simply saying they didn't feel well, even if we were sure they had gone to meet their maker.”


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