Bed Bugs Plague British Columbia Woman On British Airways Flight, Experts Say Not Surprised

Flying can be stressful enough for passengers, but for British Columbia native, Heather Szilagyi, her 7-year-old daughter, and fiance, Eric Neilson, a trip on a British Airways flight to London on October 10 added a whole other level of anxiety and worry.

Heather and her family were seated and buckled in when they noticed what looked like bed bugs crawling out of the seat in front of them. Szilagyi made the flight attendant aware of the issue, but the trio could not be moved because the flight was full. This meant that Heather and her family had to put up with the critters for the duration of the nine-hour flight.

When they arrived in London, Heather reported that her entire party was covered in bites, adding that when they arrived at their Airbnb, everything was run through the wash at the highest heat possible to eradicate any potential remaining bed bugs in their clothing and belongings.

CBC shared the words of Heather regarding the incident.

“To actually see them pouring out of the back of the TV on the seat, that was actually really gross. Once we arrived at our Airbnb… we put everything through the washing machine on the hottest heat we could, put everything in plastic bags, sanitized everything that we could.”

Despite this occurrence and the fact that there has been an increase in bed bug population globally, experts stated that travelers should not be worried that bed bugs on planes will be a “common feature.”

British Airways spokesperson Caroline Niven has since responded and stated that the passengers were contacted to offer a sincere apology, as BBC relayed.

“British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bedbugs onboard are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we are vigilant and continually monitor our aircraft. The presence of bedbugs is an issue faced occasionally by hotels and airlines all over the world.”

Heather took to Twitter where she shared images of the bites on her daughter and also shared her fears about flying home on another British Airways carrier. The B.C. resident wanted to return home on a partner carrier instead.

“What we both would have been satisfied with was if it was possible to just have us on a partner line, not to fly back with British Airways,” Heather stated.

Despite this unsettling incident, experts insist that the situation is extremely rare, and bedbugs prefer darkness and total quiet. However, bedbugs can occasionally hitch a ride on an unsuspecting person’s clothing and then crawl into the sheltered area of an airplane seat to hide.

A B.C. professor of entomology and toxicology, Murray Isman, said that finding bed bugs on planes is not surprising, given the explosion of the insects over the years.

“One of the ways bedbugs travel is in hand luggage and personal luggage. Where there is a lot of movement of people in and out, sooner or later someone is going to transfer these things in something they’re carrying, and this is how they get spread from hotel to hotel to hotel and this is how people bring them home.”

[Featured Image By Jack Taylor /Getty Images]