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Flight LH773 was scheduled to depart Bangkok for the Bavarian capital at 11.40pm on Thursday 8 February.
After 90 minutes in the air, however, the plane was forced to turn around after a German national was pronounced dead onboard.
According to a fellow passenger, the man lost litres of blood through his mouth and nose. “It was absolute horror, everyone was screaming,” said Karin Missfelder, who was situated in the row diagonally behind the passenger.
Ms Missfelder, a nursing specialist at University Hospital in Zurich immediately noticed her fellow passenger’s poor health upon boarding.
“He had cold sweats, was breathing much too quickly, and was already apathetic,” she told Swiss news outlet Blick.
The man’s Filipina wife explained that the pair had run to the plane very quickly, which is why he wasn’t feeling well.
At this stage, the nurse intervened and said that the passenger needed medical attention, prompting the captain to call for a doctor over the loudspeaker.
“A young, around 30-year-old man from Poland with poor English looked at the German,” she said, but only felt his pulse and asked how he was feeling.
“They then gave him a little chamomile tea, but he [had] already spit blood into the bag that his wife held out to him,” she said.
Despite the escalating situation, the decision was made by airport officials to depart.
As the plane became airborne, the man’s condition worsened dramatically and blood began gushing out of his mouth and nose. “The man lost litres of blood,” she said.
Flight stewards immediately began resuscitation, to no avail, and the man was carried into the galley and a decision was made to return to Bangkok.
The captain announced over the loudspeaker that the passenger had sadly died.
Despite the ordeal that passengers had witnessed, Ms Missfelder’s husband, Martin, described the situation back at Bangkok Airport as chaotic. “Nobody looked after us, we waited two hours. There was no care team there, nobody,” he said.
He said the worst thing was that the wife of the deceased passenger then had to proceed through customs alone. “She stood there all alone and apathetic and had to endure all the formalities.”
“The fact that Lufthansa has no measures in his case, that no one cares about around 30 traumatised passengers around, is unacceptable.”
In a statement to The Independent, a Lufthansa representative confirmed that “a medical emergency” had occurred on the flight. “Although immediate and comprehensive first aid measures were taken by the crew and a doctor on board, the passenger died during the flight.
“After 1.5 hours of flight time, the crew decided to turn back to Bangkok, where the aircraft landed normally and safely. There, the instructions of the medical emergency services and the Thai authorities were followed.
“The passengers on the cancelled flight have since been rebooked on other flights. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the deceased passenger. We also regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers of this flight.”
Lufthansa did not respond when pressed on the decision to depart Bangkok in spite of the man’s failing health.
The news comes as service has resumed after the German flag carrier cancelled hundreds of flights from the country’s major airports following a 27-hour strike by ground staff.
Members of the Ver.di union walked out at five major German airports on Wednesday 7 February in a dispute over pay.