travel

The secret code word flight attendants use when a passenger dies.

The chances of someone dying mid-flight are slim. Minute even. But with 3.5 billion people taking flights last year, 61.34 million of which were on Australian domestic services, an untimely death is almost inevitable.

And you’d better believe the airlines have a plan in place for when it happens.

As a flight attendant – let’s call her Sally – told Mamamia recently, “If a major health event occurs mid-flight, the plane will divert and land as soon as possible.

“On the extremely rare occasions where a passenger does pass away, our main priority is to ensure their dignity and privacy are maintained, and to move passengers away from the person as quickly as possible.”

flight attendant code for dead passenger
Image: Getty.

In fact, staff are so conscious of not wanting to upset those on-board, that some airlines reportedly use a code word when referring to deceased passenger.

For obvious reasons, the phrase is kept pretty tightly under wraps, but according to The Mirror, Sara Marsden, Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online, revealed that American Airlines staff use a name:

'Jim Wilson'.

For anyone experiencing grief... (Post continues below).

We reached out to Virgin Australia to see if they have an equivalent term, but they were unable to comment on internal procedures. Qantas were unable to respond by the time of publishing.

However, a former Qantas staffer told us there was nothing in the 'Death Inflight' procedure that included a code word, and that staff would generally just refer to the deceased by his or her real name.

In the event of a death, the staffer said, the seat would be semi-reclined, a blanket placed over the person's torso, and eyes covered with eye shades.

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