A medical crisis occurred aboard a late-night Lufthansa flight on Thursday, February 8, when a 63-year-old German man died en route from Bangkok to Munich. The incident necessitated an emergency diversion back to Bangkok.
Witnesses say the man, whose identity is yet to be revealed, seemed visibly ill when he and his wife boarded the plane. Passengers Martin and Karin Missfelder, who sat behind the couple, noted the man exhibiting symptoms like cold sweats and rapid breathing. Despite his apparent ill health, the flight crew let him stay on the plane after his wife explained that his symptoms were due to rushing to make the flight.
The man’s health deteriorated significantly as the journey continued. Karin Missfelder, who has a background in nursing, suggested that a doctor should examine him. A young doctor from Poland, with limited English proficiency, did check on the man but provided minimal care. His treatment extended to checking his pulse and asking about his well-being. The flight attendants offered him chamomile tea.
The situation took a turn for the worse when the man started vomiting blood into a bag and blood flowed from his nose and mouth, staining parts of the plane’s interior. Martin Missfelder, a witness, recounted to Swiss news outlet Blick that the man lost several quarts of blood, which caused panic among the passengers.
Flight attendants worked to resuscitate the man for thirty minutes but failed to revive him. The captain then decided to return to Bangkok, ninety minutes into the flight. Upon landing, the man’s body was removed, and the passengers were placed on alternative flights as the original journey was canceled due to the medical crisis. While Lufthansa expressed its condolences, they did not release further details due to privacy considerations.
This incident has raised concerns about the airline’s response to the situation and the lack of support provided to the traumatized passengers and the deceased man’s wife, who had to navigate customs alone.
While the airline industry has protocols for dealing with medical emergencies, this incident highlights the need for a thorough assessment of passengers’ health before flying, particularly if they exhibit signs of illness. It also underlines the necessity of having robust emergency medical capabilities on board.