Passenger dies on board NZ flight
A woman on a flight on which another passenger died has described the cabin crew's rush to help the victim, who suffered a medical condition less than 10 minutes before landing.
Auckland resident Aarti Prasad was on the packed 13-hour Air New Zealand flight NZ31 from Buenos Aires to Auckland when tragedy struck early this morning.
Ms Prasad said shortly before the aircraft was due to land, just before 5am, a call was made on the overhead speaker asking if there was a doctor on board.
"I looked on the screen and it was about eight minutes to landing. They almost made it," she said sadly.
"A flight attendant, I saw him grab an oxygen tank and he headed to the front of the plane.
"Once we landed, the captain came on the speaker himself … and said: 'Look, we've just had a medical event. We can't get off. Once we get there, the paramedics are meeting the passenger'."
Passengers were told they could not get off the aircraft as St John Ambulance staff were with the affected passenger in the air bridge.
People had to stay on board - on the tarmac - for about 40 minutes as authorities worked at the scene.
Police confirmed they were notified about a death on an incoming flight to Auckland International Airport early this morning, but said that the death was not being treated as suspicious.
Police later confirmed an adult passenger had died on the flight and that their death had been referred to the coroner.
It is not yet known whether the victim is from New Zealand or is a foreign national.
St John sent paramedics to the scene after getting a call about 4.48am, a spokeswoman said.
Ms Prasad said she did not know anyone had died until after she was off the aircraft.
She praised the flight crew and particularly the captain who she says gave regular updates via the overhead speaker and kept passengers calm as a result.
"He was very reassuring to everybody … and explained everything," Ms Prasad said.
"He kept talking to us throughout the whole time we were waiting. People could use the toilets - 'but come back and please remain seated. We'll let you know as soon as we can'.
"Right at the very end … he said because there'd been a serious medical event, the police are there talking to the people who were around the passenger.
"That was reassuring as well because the last thing you want to do is get off a 13-hour flight and see police just outside."
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said they were unable to provide further information because of privacy reasons.
This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and was reproduced with permission