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Shipping The Dead On A/C  
User currently offlineLearjet23 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3761 times:

My brother in law is a Funeral Director, his firm has an international "ship out" contract. In the event someone passes away in AZ but this is not home, his job is to prepare the body and forward it on to the hometown undertaker. His outfit ships hundreds of people every year on regular commercial flights. It's done at night, and is handled through the freight dept. I wonder if the people taking these flights have any idea what is just below them in the cargo hold as they sleep? I went with him the other night to the Delta cargo area, and he filled out the paperwork, did a container weigh in, and the "H. R." (human remains) were on there way! Its a special wood and cardboard box that says "extreme care" on the outside, and "head" at the head end so it will be handled properly. As I understand it this is the most profitable cargo an airline ships, a dead body! $600 one way to ATL and no complaints about the food.

30 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineGoose From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 1849 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3681 times:

Nothing new. HUM on airliners are fairly common, and not just at night - all times of the day.

I was a ramper for quite a while and dealt with quite a few of them. The worst are the small ones ....... children. They can get to you if you think about it. But for the most part, you just treat them as cargo -- cargo which can smell like embalming fluid.

There's special handling instructions for them, sure.... but really, they're not that much different.

"Talk to me, Goose..."
User currently offlineDebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2874 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3644 times:

well, I had once a NIGHTMARE flight. It started in Rhodes, we were prepared for the return journey and ready to leave; BUT there was a little problem. On the tarmac in front of our a/c were 2 coffins left- the shipping document was incorrect. So everyone on the right side could actually see the coffins... Great for people with fear of flying...

And the worst part of it, the family was waiting in Germany to get asap the coffins for the ceremony ... But we had to leave without them- sadly...

But what really break my heart, was the circumstances... But that had nothing to do with this topic!

User currently offlineMotech722 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 211 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3622 times:


As Goose said, shipping bodies is nothing new. I used to work at AWA and now at DL, and bodies come in at least once a month at all times of the day. The positioning of the body is important, the head goes forward so that the fluids do not leak out. It is definitely a money maker for the airline; and employees have respect for dealing with these.

User currently offlineDeltaMIA From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 1672 posts, RR: 16
Reply 4, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3594 times:

$600 is a lot, most of the ones I see are generally $300. In most cases where I work (FL) there are 1 to 2 a flight. Recently there has been a few military escorted HR's. Also in some cases passengers escort (family members) the body to its burial place. There are certain procedures like making sure they are sitting on the Captain side so they can not see the body loaded and unloaded. For the most part though people I am sure don't know what is being loaded and unloaded unless they have either worked for an airline or have ever had to do the shipping themselves.

It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
User currently offlineM404 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 2258 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3474 times:
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I like the paupers or donated corpses to med schools. Have found some that DO NOT have all the safeguards as others going to own funerals. Like the body is only on the tray inside a cardboard box and as you pull the box forward to get it out of a wet bin - it opens. Lunch anyone.

Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
User currently offline707guy From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 205 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3417 times:

We handle HR's just about everyday. Most are a pain because they weigh so much - I think the worst I've dealt with was like 490lbs. Try moving that around in bin 3 on a 732! Heard a story once about a guy almost falling through the top of a box that was only carrying a body bag - that would have been nasty....!

User currently offlineTheGov From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 424 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3374 times:

I guess you could say that I have everyone beat in this regards. I worked for DL and I am now a partner in a funeral home. It's just part of the service we provide as a funeral home and part of the service the airlines provide.

However, due to the increased usage of RJs, it is now a lot harder to ship human remains by air to a large part of the country. Last problem MEM-CRP. AA doesn't take cargo from MEM and no-one else serves Corpus Christi with anything larger than an RJ. And there are no interline agreements between airlines when it comes to freight (human remains). So, the overland companies are now taking up the slack. That makes it a lot harder on families.

Always a pallbearer, never a corpse.
User currently offlineMirrodie From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 7459 posts, RR: 60
Reply 8, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3338 times:
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Reminds me of an old favorite,

"Bring out yer dead! Bring out yer dead!"

name the flick.

Forum moderator 2001-2010; He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard, a belligerent old fart, a worthless st
User currently offlineAv8rDAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 474 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3281 times:

Monty Python, Holy Grail-- A fave of mine.

"I'm not dead! I'm getting better!"

TheGov made a good point about RJ use. I think if I had to transport a body, I'd much rather organize some over-land transport (FedEx or what have you) rather than watch the spectacle of some rampers trying to shoe-horn a casket into the hold of one of those smaller jets.

[Edited 2004-02-06 04:49:05]

Maintain thine airspeed, lest the Earth rise up and smite thee.
User currently offlineTheHangarCat From Canada, joined Apr 2002, 87 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3235 times:

I got one for ya...

working shipping and receiving for a certain friendly low cost carrier in YHM. I used to spend a lot of saturdays alone in the hangar waiting for comat and RON parts to arrive from YYC. I had never seen a crate with a coffin in it. So I'm sitting in the hangar when I suddenly realized that the ramp guys had left a big crate on the belt loader.. Now I thought it was an APU or a Transmission or something so I grabbed my trusty exacto knife and I ran and jumped on it to open the crate and receive the part. Imagine my surprise when I read "Mrs. Lang" on the crate and "human remains, handle with respect" on the box. I jumped off of it and wound up hanging out with the guys in the maint van all afternoon, no way in hell I was gonna be spending the rest of the day with a corpse I nearly opened and stored next to the main wheels...

That's my hangar horror story...

If it Ain't Boeing, I ain't Going!
User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30410 posts, RR: 57
Reply 11, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3193 times:

It could be a lot worse.

One time I had to shoehorn somebody I knew into the belly of an airplane, because he had commited scuicide the night before.

The body was being shipped to the embalmer and had been brought over on his uncle's fishing boat by his uncle and his dad.

They kept the body in the freezer hold, so he was frozen solid by the time he got to the airport.

User currently offlineMikeclod From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 272 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3116 times:

Hello, FedEx will not ship Human Remains, and that's straight from the manual. Right after 9-11, I was working out of the only United station with a Human cadaver. It sat there for a couple of days, then someone else came on shift, called their dispatch, and was told that they'd been looking for it for days.
Wow, I feel comforted.

User currently offlineTrident2e From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2972 times:

I used to work at MAN and for some reason the handling charge for offloading freight was waived for human remains. Not sure why, given that everyone else involved in the process was making money out of it.

User currently offlineAC_B777 From Canada, joined Aug 2000, 854 posts, RR: 11
Reply 14, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2935 times:

I had a bad experience with handling HUM a couple of years ago.
My co-worker and I were taking 2 HUM's off an A319 when one of the cardboard transport coffins broke apart. Needless to say, I saw the deceased man. Not a pretty sight considering that these two HUM's were tradically killed in a trucking accident in Alberta and were coming to Newfoundland for burial, so, the body was beat up badly.
Just last week, the body of Cpl Jamie Murphy was returned to YYT after being killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. His remains were on an AC flight that landed around 12:00pm. There was a full military entourage there to meet the flight.
You have to treat HUM with the best of respect in all cases, but when there is a full military entourage, family members, media, etc, then you really have to be careful.


In life, some days you are the bug..... some days you are the windshield!
User currently offlineVimanav From India, joined Jul 2003, 1538 posts, RR: 14
Reply 15, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2910 times:
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While working for LH cargo in CCU, we once had an incident at the warehouse when an airline (I think the airline was AI) could not take a HUM shipment due to some documents not being in order. Some jerks at the warehouse decided to save space and placed the coffin upright!!!  Nuts

Net result was that the body (apparently a 6 footer) had shrunk to 3 ft by the time it got to destination. Needless to say, shit hit the ceiling...


Sarfaroshi kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mein hai, Dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazu-e-qaatil mein hai
User currently offlineEXMEMWIDGET From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 220 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2861 times:

The heaviest HR that I ever had to deal with came in at 716 lbs. It was loaded in bin 2 of a Delta DC9-32. Talk about hard to get unloaded. In trying to get the thing offloaded, we broke off all of the pull straps, pulled off the cardboard cover, and pulled the wood base out from underneath it. All that was left on the A/C was a huge pink casket with bronze handles. It ended up taking about 5 guys to get it unloaded when it normally would take 2.

Another HR incident that I had was really creepy. I was taking an HR that had just arrived on a flight over to the freight house. Over the years I had gotten into the habit of checking the paperwork that was taped to the top of the shipping container. Quite often the cause of death would be listed on the paperwork. In looking at the paperwork, I noticed that the receiving funeral home paperwork had a New Jersey address but the freight destination label was MEM (this is all taking place in MEM by the way). Obviously something was not right, so we called the origin freight house (IND). They said that shipped out only two HR's that day, one destined for MEM and the other for EWR. Somehow, the destination freight labels or the funeral home paperwork had been misapplied. The only way to figure out which was the correct HR for MEM was to open up the casket. According to the funeral home, we were supposed to receive a 29 year old female and EWR was supposed to receive a 50 year old male. We opened up the casket and of course we had the male. As it turned out, the IND cargo agent had mixed up the freight destination labels. We ended up sending the HR back out the same day, but as it turned out, the poor man's funeral had to be postponed one day so he could be there.

User currently offlineEXMEMWIDGET From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 220 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2827 times:

FedEx normally will not ship HR's. But in extreme circumstances, exceptions have been made. This past summer, I helped handle the remains of a FedEx employee's deceased son that was being shipped via FedEx.

User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 66
Reply 18, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2787 times:

Still startles me on a walkaround when I see a box of that obvious size being loaded or offloaded.

Still a very disturbing memory after these many years; I went to Tan Son Nhut airport at Saigon just after the Tet offensive of 1968. There was a stack of aluminum shipping coffins, six deep and a hundred yards long. Waiting for shipment home.

Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 17596 posts, RR: 50
Reply 19, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 2751 times:

I think Florida to the Northeast (EWR, LGA, JFK) probably carries alot of deceased people, my beloved Grandma came back to NY to be buried after her death in her Winter home in Newport Richie.

I believe CO carries alot of deceased people on their EWR-Tel Aviv flights, I was spotting in the North Area cargo parking lot at EWR a couple years ago and a precession (sp?) of several hundred Othordox or Hisidic (sp?) Jews escorted a body to CO's cargo building.

I think alot of Othordox or hesidic Jews are returned to Israel for burial.

Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently offlineTheFLCowboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 406 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 2714 times:

What about a route that is serviced by an ERJ? Is there room for a box and luggage, and is there some special way that the H.R. have to be maneuvered to get in there?

What about on a 767 where the cargo goes on in containers? Does the coffin go in with luggage then?

How does that work?

A318, A320, A332, A333, B1900, B722, B732, B733, B734, B735, B737, B738, B772, CR1, CR2, CR7, CR9, MD80, MD81, MD82, MD8
User currently offlineBGR1962 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 95 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 2681 times:

ERJ's do not transport human remains, there isn't room enough for a shipping container. I know I'm a funeral director in Maine and closest airport BGR no longer has mainline jet service so we drive the extra 150 miles to PWM. Boy do I miss the mainline jets. Sometimes we even have to drive as far as BOS because the MD-80's have weight restrictions on HR shipments because of the working area in the luggage compartment.

There was a long thread on this topic about a month ago that had some additional information that might answer some more questions.

User currently offlineKanebear From United States of America, joined May 2002, 953 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 2617 times:

TheGov, AA doesn't serve CRP with anything larger than a CR7. CO has one 735 a day, so that would've sufficed.

User currently offlineTheGov From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 424 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 2534 times:

The incident with AA happened a couple of years back. I think at that time, CO was not serving MEM.

Always a pallbearer, never a corpse.
User currently offlineScootertrash From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 569 posts, RR: 8
Reply 24, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2479 times:

Hey BGR1962: You think there is a market for an air freight company that specializes in transporting human remains? You could run the aircraft all night long in series of flag stops up and down the east coast, for example. Maybe use an ATR or similiar large turboprop. Crazy idea, I realize.

I have my own H.R. horror story. While commuting from CLT to JAX, I was sitting in a packed full 757 awaiting pushback. I was seated just above the door for the rear cargo hold. The captain addressed the passengers, stating that "we have a minor maintainance paperwork issue that needs to be cleared up." Of course I thought nothing of it, and the rest of the cabin seemed to take the delay in stride. After about 10 minutes I noticed a tug pulling a single bag cart up to the airplane. I stifled a knowing chuckle as 4 rampers hefted a person sized box with the appropriate markings onto the belt loader. As I turned back to my crossword puzzle I was startled by a large thump and a crash... I looked back out my window (along with every passenger on the right side of the 757) and saw the box laying upside down on the ramp and the 4 rampers sprinting away from the scene of the crime. After they came to the conclusion that dead folks won't chase you even if you drop them, they returned to collect the rather damaged remains of the container. Another hour delay ensued as they replaced the shipping container and reloaded the quiet yet troublesome "passenger."

The great part is that no one got wise to what was really happening. When I was asked (I was in uniform) I merely shrugged and said that the box contained "parts." I never let on that they were human rather than airplane related.


25 L-188 : There was one guy he had to put on the airplane that came over in a 206 in a body bag. We had to put him in the "silver bullet". He had been ground gu
26 AirframeAS : How does the Health Department from each state actually allow airlines to open caskets? Do the airlines need to have special licenses in order to perf
27 L-188 : Well, as I mentioned earlier, we typically didn't fly embalmed Caskets, only "raw" bodies that where on their way be be embalmed. AFAIK most health de
28 Goose : I've never dropped a HUM or damaged the crate. The only story of woe when it comes to them is when I had to unload one out of the rear compartment of
29 BGR1962 : There is a fair amount of HR transportation on small aircraft. Not sure but I think the smallest a/c used is a Cessna 180. There is actual a fairly ac
30 Amhilde : I heard from a quite reliable aviation administration source here in Nevada that the number 3 export from Clark County ( LAS home county) is human rem
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