Lufthansa flight 773 on February 8 from Bangkok to Frankfurt was categorized as a nightmare on social media posted by passengers on this plane.
A Lufthansa pilot had allowed a sick passenger to board LH773 even after fellow passengers alerted the crew before take-off of the critical condition of this passenger. He eventually had to declare an emergency and returned to Bangkok with the passenger deceased and covered in his own blood.
The 63-year-old German man was traveling with his Filipino wife. He looked sick, was breathing too fast, and sweating as he was boarding the flight. He said he was experiencing those symptoms because he was running to make the plane. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport is known for its long walkways. Passengers often underestimate the time it can take to walk to their boarding gate.
The Captain relied on a non-English speaking passenger to allow the flight to continue.
The flight crew notified the captain about the condition of this passenger before taking off. The captain called for a doctor on board.
A Polish doctor who spoke little English examined the pulse of the passenger and cleared him for this 12-hour 20-minute nonstop flight to Europe. The sick passenger was given some hot tea. His wife noticed he was spitting blood into the sickness bag provided at his seat.
Regardless, the flight taxied to the runway and took off for Germany. Once in the air, the condition of the passenger dramatically worsened.
He kept spitting lots of blood out of his mouth and nose. Witnesses say he must have lost liters of blood, contaminating the carpet, the window, and the walls of the aircraft.
Flight attendants tried to save his life, but were a bit amateurish.
Flight attendants onboard this Lufthansa flight rushed to the passengers aide and tried desperately to save his life. The flight attendants immediately began resuscitation. According to a witness, it unfortunately looked a bit amateurish.
After 30 minutes, the crew abandoned life-saving attempts and removed the man’s body to a galley. He was covered with a black curtain.
The pilot declared an emergency and returned the massive Airbus A380 to the Thai capital. He made an announcement saying that a fellow passenger died on the plane, and they had to return to Bangkok about 90 minutes into the flight.
After the plane landed in Bangkok, it took 2 hours before anyone from Lufthansa showed up to assist.
Passengers were allowed to leave the plane. No discussion about isolation was overheard, raising the question about what the cause was for this passenger to have been spitting up so much blood.
Passengers received a $10 meal voucher, and some passengers were booked to Hong Kong to connect on another Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt.
No one at Lufthansa assisted the grief-stricken wife.
The deceased grief-stricken wife was left unattended by the airline and airport staff. She had to clear customs and immigration on her own, looking heartbroken, confused, and lost.
More than 30 passengers witnessed the event on board and were equally traumatized and were also left alone after this 2-hour wait.
A Swiss passenger told the Swiss news outlet Blick that he was expecting an apology or more from Lufthansa on how this emergency which should never have gotten to this stage was handled.
In a detailed statement, Lufthansa said:
“We confirm that on 8 February 2024, on flight LH773 (Airbus A380) from Bangkok to Munich, a medical emergency of a passenger occurred on board.
“Although immediate and comprehensive first aid measures were taken by the crew and a doctor on board, the passenger died during the flight. After 1.5 hours of flight time, the crew decided to return to Bangkok, where the aircraft landed normally and safely.
“There, the instructions of the medical emergency services and the Thai authorities were followed. The passengers on this flight have since been rebooked on other alternative flights, as it has been canceled.
“Our thoughts are with the relatives of the deceased passenger. We also regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers of this flight.”
Airlines have different policies in place on how to proceed after a passengers dies on a flight.
Infectious Disease and Quarantine
A concerned medical professional commented on social media: “Lufthansa did not quarantine the rest of the people on the plane. I am wondering how infectious diseases can spread around the world. [A] new virus may have been released.”.
“Sometimes, coughing up mucus from your throat is a sign of viral pneumonia. 17 viruses—including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19—may infect your lungs, which causes pneumonia. The severity of lung damage from viral pneumonia is likely why some people cough up blood,” said Dr. Cosgrove.