When you see little bugs crawling out of the seat in front of you, consider moving to another row before it’s too late.
To be honest, I’ve always been wary of encountering bed bugs while occasionally staying overnight in less-than-stellar accommodations. However, I’ve never thought I would have to worry about finding these nasty, blood-sucking insects on an airline flight, much less on a top-shelf airline like British Airways. But, as I recently discovered, it’s indeed something to worry (or maybe even have a nightmare) about.
Heather Szilagyi was on a nine-hour transatlantic flight from Vancouver to London with her 7-year-old daughter when she noticed something shocking — bed bugs “pouring out of the back of the TV on the seat” in front of her.
Although many travelers have difficulties recognizing bed bugs, Szilagyi — who’s worked for years in the hospitality industry — instantly knew bed bugs when she saw them. When she brought the issue up with the British Airways flight crew, however, Szilagyi recounted that the attendant was unable to help the family, saying that the flight was sold out and that there was nowhere to move them.
After landing, Szilagyi and her daughter left the plane covered in red, irritating bites — something Szilagyi’s fiancé broadcast over social media as he alerted others to the “extremely bad customer service” demonstrated by British Airways on the overnight flight. Despite the severity of the situation, the airline allegedly took some time to respond — putting Szilagyi and her family on hold as they tried the customer service line open only a short “four hours a day.”
Finally, the airline did offer some reparations for the terrible experience and offered Szilagyi a complimentary upgrade to business class — as well as a trip on a different plane — for her return trip home. In a statement to CTV News, British Airway wrote, “We have been in touch with our customer to apologize and investigate further. British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs onboard are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we are vigilant and continually monitor our aircraft.”
The experience goes to show that travelers should take every precaution to safeguard their health while in transit. More often than not, we’re unable or unaware of the risks to our health and safety. Knowing what could go wrong — and looking out for such risks — can often prevent your experience from getting to that point. But, as in Szilagyi’s case, circumstances can also be out of our control as well.
Luckily, at least, bed bugs have not been known to cause serious medical problems. Instead, they’re mostly regarded as a pesky nuisance, with bites that usually clear up on their own. If possible, it’s best to catch them as early as possible, and to reduce contact with any fabric that might be carrying the bed bugs.
Bed bugs spread like wildfire, so take precaution while traveling. Otherwise, you might just bring them home with you — and not even know it.