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British Airways apologises after passengers left 'covered' in bedbug bites

The airline has apologised and upgraded the passengers on the return journey

Julia Buckley
Friday 20 October 2017 09:49 BST
British Airways has apologised to the family and said the incident is a rare occurence
British Airways has apologised to the family and said the incident is a rare occurence (Getty)

British Airways has apologised after passengers on a longhaul flight were bitten by bedbugs.

Canadian Heather Szilagyi was travelling with her fiancé and daughter from Vancouver to London last month, when she says she saw a bug crawling out from her TV screen – on the back of the seat in front of her.

​Szilagyi, who works in the hotel industry, recognised it as a bed bug immediately, she told CTV Vancouver. “I wanted to grab it but they're quick, and it crawled back inside, behind the screen,” she said. She saw more bugs later on in the flight, including as they were served their inflight meals.

Szilagyi alerted a flight attendant, she says, but was told the plane was full and there was no way to move the group. The FA apologised, she said, but didn’t seem surprised. “It was nine hours of knowing that I was probably going to get bit, but not being sure,” Szilagyi said. “But there wasn't really anything I could do about it.

The trio – who were en route to Slovenia via London – tried to sleep. “I was surprised I was able to relax, but what can you do?” Szilagyi told CTV. On arrival in Slovenia the following day, she says they were “covered” in bites – and she still has an infected one from the flight.

Desperate not to be put on the same plane for the return flight, the group called British Airways to check their return details, but they were unable to get through due to busy lines. In desperation, Szilagyi tweeted BA with pictures of the bites.

The airline has apologised and upgraded the family to business class for the return flight.

BA said in a statement: “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.”

A member of cabin crew for a major European airline told The Independent: “Fortunately after flying for over 20 years, I have only come across bedbugs on flights three times.

“I had to dose up on antihistamines once to stop the itching as I had been bitten so badly, but an aircraft is often treated if several reports of bedbugs are made.”

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