A 63-year-old German man died in a harrowing medical emergency on a Lufthansa flight on Thursday, February 8, from Bangkok to Munich, leaving passengers and crew in shock and prompting an emergency diversion back to Bangkok.
According to eyewitness reports, the man, whose identity has not been disclosed, boarded the plane with his wife looking visibly unwell. Passengers Martin and Karin Missfelder, who were seated diagonally behind the couple, described the man as having cold sweats and breathing rapidly upon boarding. Despite these apparent symptoms, the flight crew allowed him to remain on the flight after his wife attributed his condition to rushing to catch the plane.
As the flight progressed, the man’s condition worsened dramatically. Karin Missfelder, a nursing specialist, urged the flight attendants to have a doctor examine him. A young doctor, identified only as being from Poland and having limited English skills, looked at the man but provided minimal treatment beyond checking his pulse and asking how he felt. Flight attendants gave him some chamomile tea.
The situation escalated when the man began vomiting blood into a bag, and soon after, blood gushed from his nose and mouth, covering parts of the aircraft’s interior. Witness Martin Missfelder told Swiss media outlet Blick that the man lost liters of blood in a distressing scene that caused panic among the passengers.
Flight attendants attempted to resuscitate the man for half an hour, but their efforts were in vain. The captain made the decision to return to Bangkok an hour and a half into the flight, where the man’s body was removed from the aircraft. The passengers were then rebooked on other flights as the original flight was canceled due to the medical emergency. Lufthansa has expressed its condolences over the incident but has not disclosed further details due to privacy concerns.
The incident has raised questions about the airline’s handling of the situation and the lack of support provided to traumatized passengers and the deceased man’s wife, who was left to navigate customs alone.
The airline industry has protocols for dealing with medical emergencies, including the provision of first aid by trained crew members and the possibility of diverting flights to the nearest airport. However, this incident underscores the critical importance of assessing passengers’ fitness to fly, especially in cases of visible illness, and the need for comprehensive emergency medical capabilities on board.