Life, death and beyond at 35,000 feet

Births are more common than deaths on flights…luckily?

Whilst for most the biggest surprise on an aeroplane consists of finding a piece of much craved chocolate as part of their meal, others are (un)lucky to come out with a book worthy story.

Travel metasearch engine, Wego, recently conducted a campaign to find out some of the more unusual airplane occurrences.


Although mid-air births are more common than deaths, they are still not something I want to experience on my next trip to the Gold Coast, apparently neither do others with some planes rerouting as soon as a woman goes into labour.

Wego’s respondents reported seeing women give birth in the aisle, whilst some were lucky enough to be flying with a doctor on board.

Citizenship laws for mid-air babies are somewhat grey, according to Wego, who found that the United Nations insists that the child take the citizenship of the country where the aircraft is registered, whilst the US will gift their passport to babies born within 12 nautical miles of the country. Parent’s nationalities are also considered.

On the topic of life, a respondent shared that they were on a flight from Vietnam to Singapore with ten European couples returning home with newly adopted babies.


As babies are born, unfortunately some people die on flights as well.

Heart attacks were reported as the most common cause of death, with some passengers even stepping in to help out.

In one case, an elderly man was lucky to survive after resuscitation procedures were administered on him, whilst a newlywed had to have passengers give her oxygen for almost five hours after the entire cabin crew came down with a stomach bug.

The saddest story reported was of a family receiving a postcard relaying a wonderful adventure from their grandmother who unfortunately passed away on her return flight.

To ensure the safety (and sanity) of others on board, most airlines will move the deceased body to a spare row of seats and cover them up with a blanket and oxygen mask, whilst Singapore Airlines reportedly is the first and only airline to install a ‘corpse cupboard’ on their A340-500 aircrafts.


Wego also found that some passengers experienced beings that enjoyed their flight a little too much.

One respondent stated that he felt kicking at the back of his seat which turned out to be empty, and another became infatuated with a woman sitting behind him, only to find that she had disappeared upon runway approach.

Click here to read this on eTravel Blackboard.

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