A Canadian mother and her 7-year-old daughter reported being covered in bed bug bites after a British Airways flight from Vancouver to London.
"I hoped that one was a flax seed or an apple seed. Then it started crawling,” Heather Szilagyi told Metro UK. “That was the bug I gave to the flight attendant.”
Flight attendants told Szilagyi that the flight was completely sold out and that there was nowhere else they could sit. When they arrived at London Heathrow, Szilagyi’s daughter had already broken out with bites.
They spent the rest of their trip washing and rewashing their clothes. However Szilagyi said that on the return flight home, their seats were upgraded and they received “kind and very empathetic” customer service.
“British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs onboard are extremely rare,” an airline spokesperson told Travel + Leisure in a statement. “Nevertheless, we are vigilant and continually monitor our aircraft. The presence of bed bugs is an issue faced occasionally by hotels and airlines all over the world.”
The airline also said that it was in touch with Szilagyi to apologize and investigate the incident further.
Although travelers may be alert and check for bed bugs in hotels, incidents onboard airplanes receive less attention.
Travelers especially worried about bed bugs aboard airplanes can invest in a plastic cover like the Bug Off Seat Cover. It’s also prudent to use your own blanket and pillows on long-haul flights instead of using those provided by the airline.
Passengers who examine their seats and discover either live bugs or dark stains should immediately inform cabin crew.
When an airline receives complaints about bed bugs, they launch an investigation. And, if necessary, they temporarily take the plane out of service and use specialist teams for a deep cleaning and extermination.