Mom Speaks Out After Bed Bugs Attack Girl on Infested Flight

bed bugs from airplane
Heather Szilagyi

From families getting kicked off flights because of oversold seats to others being trapped on planes and infants overheating, some parents haven't had it easy recently while trying to travel with kids. Unfortunately, these negative experiences seem to be happening more frequently than ever before, and as more families speak out, folks are becoming increasingly cautious about which airlines they fly. That is exactly why Heather Szilagyi wants people to be aware of what happened to her little girl on a British Airways flight.

  • Heather was flying with her daughter Molly and fiancé Eric from Vancouver to London when they noticed bugs crawling out from seats mid-flight.

    girl gets bed bugs from plane
    Heather Szilagyi

    According to Heather, the family first saw the bugs coming out of the seats in front of them near their TV and food trays. She quietly informed the flight attendants but they weren't able to move the family.

    After they landed and switched planes to their final destination in Slovakia, it seemed like Molly was only bitten on her thighs. However when she woke up the next morning, Heather saw that she was covered in bites.

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  • Molly ended up with bloody bed bug bites all over her entire body from the plane's fabric seats.

    bed bug bites from flight
    Heather Szilagyi

    Both Heather and Eric tried getting in touch with British Airways about the problem, not only to make sure that they would have a bug-free flight home, but also to ensure that the plane would be clean for future passengers. However, they weren't successful in speaking to anyone after their first rounds of calls.

    "Once you get a human, they have so much red tape, they can't do anything for you," Heather tells CafeMom. "Eric was on the phone for about an hour before they finally let him talk to a supervisor, who also couldn't do anything."

  • Not making any progress over the phone, they finally took to Twitter with photos of Molly's bloody bites.

    bed bugs from flight
    Heather Szilagyi

    A representative from British Airways called and apologized -- but couldn't help with their concerns for their flight back to Canada. "We were not being unreasonable. We simply were dreading the trip home and wanted a promise that this wouldn't happen again," Heather says. "And a promise that they would fix the problem on the aircraft we were on, so it wouldn't happen to someone else."

    Heather wants people to understand that bed bugs can happen and her problem was never with the airline for her daughter's accidental bites -- it was over the lack of customer service when they ran into this problem. "This was never about the bugs themselves. I've worked in hotels most of my life, and I understand that these things happen, which is why we were so quiet and discreet about it on the plane," she says. "This is about how impossible their customer service is."

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  • Despite British Airways agreeing to fly them home on a different flight, Heather doesn't think they realize the problem.

    bed bugs plane
    Heather Szilagyi

    "We were finally contacted after bombing Twitter with our frustration. They contacted us saying they were concerned about the photos," Heather says. "They eventually finally phoned and the lovely representative we spoke to was not allowed to help us. Just apologies."

    To rectify the situation, they asked either to be switched to an aircraft without fabric seats (and vinyl instead), or to a flight on a partnering line -- or to be bumped to business class if it was available. "Nothing that would cost them money, and we were willing to take a later flight if necessary," Heather says. "Nothing. She couldn't offer us a thing."

    However, two associates did end up meeting them at the gate before their flight home and gave them a "wonderful" flight on a different plane. "They were the most genuine customer service representatives I've ever encountered. The problem still is that it should not have come to this," Heather says. "I am an advocate for animal rights and I help feed people in need whenever I can. I absolutely do not want my claim to fame to be that I needed to fight to not ride on a plane infested with bugs."

    Heather says that she's embarrassed that it took going to social media just for the airline to take her family's concerns seriously and wants no other parent to have to fight on Twitter just to get a safe flight home.

    According to the Sun, a British Airways representative issued a statement apologizing for the situation: "We have said sorry to our customers for their experience. British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we are vigilant and continually monitor our aircraft. The presence of bed bugs is an issue faced occasionally by hotels and airlines all over the world."