A British Airways flight was recently disturbed by some unwanted stowaways, as a horrified passenger recalled how her flight was infested by bedbugs. A Canadian family were covered in bites from the bugs after their nine-hour transatlantic flight between Vancouver and London.
Heather Szilagyi, her daughter Molly – who is seven years old – and Heather’s fiance Eric Neilson told how they quickly noticed the infestation but weren’t able to receive any help from British Airways staff as the flight was fully booked.
Szilagyi first noticed there were bed bugs on her flight when she saw a bug crawl out from behind a TV monitor attached to the seat in front of her. She tried to grab the bug but it ran back behind the monitor before she could. After alerting a flight attendant, she was told the flight was full and that nothing could be done – meaning she would have to spend the rest of the flight knowing she would be bitten by the bugs.
Szilagyi stated that she didn’t make a fuss as she didn’t want to cause trouble for everyone else flying on the plane, and was surprised as she managed to make herself relax while knowing that she and her daughter were very sensitive to insect bites. By the end of the flight, she had noticed bites on Molly’s legs, and once they reached their destination they spent their first night soaking their clothes and pillows. But still, by the next morning, Heather and her daughter were covered in bites. Over the next week, the bites slowly became infected and bled, so Szilagyi decided to call the British Airways customer services team, hoping they could make sure they wouldn’t be on the same flight home.
After spending much of their trip on hold with the airline, the family decided that the best way to catch the company’s attention was to post pictures of their bites on Twitter. This, it turned out, was definitely the right move, as the pictures began to circulate and were picked up by British newspapers nationwide. This finally seemed to have some effect, as Szilagyi and her family found themselves meeting British Airways representatives at the airport as they got ready to leave London, and were given promises that the company would fumigate better in the future. They were also offered a free seat upgrade – both reactions that don’t necessarily guarantee the non-existence of bed bugs in the future, Szilagyi noted.
British Airways have continued to apologise and promised to investigate further, stating that they operate “more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare” – despite another plane being pulled from service last year due to at least one bed bug incident.