An Air New Zealand plane was grounded for two hours with a dead body onboard.
According to a report in The Sun, a “comedy of errors” caused the lengthy delay in removing the deceased individual from the aircraft, including bringing the wrong-sized steps to the plane for paramedics seeking to get onboard.
The flight had diverted to Cairns, Australia after departing from Hong Kong en route to Auckland, New Zealand after a male passenger died onboard.
Stuff reporter Gerald Hutching, who was onboard, said he was told by airport officials that the deceased passenger was a man in his 60s who was a diabetic and had forgotten to bring insulin.
About 60 minutes into the 10-hour flight, airline staff asked for medical help over plane’s speakers. A doctor assisted the man, who was wearing an oxygen mask at one point. Efforts to save the passenger also included using an onboard defibrillator.
“He was hunched over—he didn’t look in a good way” Hutching reportedly said.
When the plane landed there was no ground crew available to remove the body. In addition, the pilot apparently didn’t want passengers using an air bridge that might allow them to see the dead body. The stairs that ultimately arrived instead were too small.
When paramedics used the stairs they were still only chest-high to the plane’s door. They resorted to climbing into the aircraft from the top of the stairs in order to attend to the passenger.
An Air New Zealand spokesperson confirmed to News.com.au that there was a medical emergency onboard flight NZ80.
“NZ80 (Hong Kong–Auckland) diverted to Cairns on Monday morning when a passenger became unwell shortly after departure,” the airline said. “As you’ll appreciate, due to privacy reasons, we’re unable to share further details about the passenger. After leaving Cairns, the aircraft continued on to Auckland, arriving about two hours after its scheduled arrival time.”
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