Woman Sits Next to Dead Boyfriend for 9 Hours on Plane

airplane seatsA flight from Singapore to New Zealand, or any 10 1/2-hour flight, isn't fun times. The sitting, the waiting, the having to pee, the sitting more. In two words, it sucks. But what if you had to sit next to a dead body for the entire duration of the flight? You're right if you think that would make flying suck even harder.

That's what happened to Vanessa Preechakul, though. See, she and her boyfriend, Robert Rippingale, were flying to his native New Zealand to celebrate his parents' 50th birthdays when an hour and a half into the Jetstar flight, he started choking on his beef and chicken dinner. Despite the doctor and two nurses who rushed to try to save him, he died. And Vanessa sat next to him for the next nine hours.


What happened was this: After Rippingale passed, crew members covered his body and removed him to a crew rest area. But then Preechakul asked to sit next to his body for the remainder of the flight. "I had to cope -- I had no choice," she said.

When I first heard this little tale, my initial reaction was, "Creepy. Why would you want to sit next to a dead body for nine hours?" But the more I thought about it, the more I sort of realized -- I would probably do the same thing.

An airplane is one of the worst places to have to deal with death -- impending death, recent death, any death. Because there's not a damn thing that you can do. You are basically being held hostage. So, the thought of sitting alone in your assigned seat on a plane -- with everyone staring at you -- after your loved one died? Yeah, no thanks. I'd be right there with Vanessa, in a private section of the plane to deal with my emotions, and to pretend like I had some control over the situation.

Would you sit next to a dead person on a plane?


Image via David McKelvey/Flickr

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