A Canadian woman says her seat on a nine-hour flight to London was crawling with bed bugs, and that she and her family were covered in bites by the end of the trip.
Heather Szilagyi said that she and her family landed in bed bug-infested seats on a British Airways flight to London on Oct. 10, The Globe and Mail reported.
Szilagyi said she asked to be relocated, but flight crew members said there were no other available seats on the plane, The Globe and Mail reported.
Szilagyi said that she and her fiance Eric Neilson, who were traveling with Szilagyi’s 7-year-old daughter, were disgusted by the site of the critters.
“To actually see them pouring out of the back of the TV on the seat, that was actually really gross,” she told The Globe and Mail.
“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.”
Szilagyi and Neilson each took to Twitter to share photos of the bites after the incident. The couple also lashed out at British Airways for its handling of the episode.
“Look out for bedbugs on long flights, particularly those by @British_Airways,” Neilson tweeted along with photos of the family’s bitten bodies.
Szilagyi shared a photo of his daughter’s calves covered in dozens of bites.
“Each bed bug bites 3 times then goes back into hiding. This is just my daughter’s calves. That’s more than a few bugs,” she wrote.
Murray Isman, a University of British Columbia professor of entomology and toxicology, said he wasn’t surprised that bed bugs had spread to commercial aircraft.
“One of the ways bedbugs travel is in hand luggage and personal luggage,” he said. “Where there is a lot of movement of people in and out, sooner or later someone is going to transfer these things into 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,” he told The Globe and Mail.
Szilagyi and her husband say British Airways could not assure them that they’d fly home on a different plane from the one they had been on.
“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,” she said.
The family said British Airways failed to remedy the situation.
(Kirsty Wigglesworth/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
British Airway spokeswoman Caroline Niven told The Globe and Mail that the airline has been in touch with the passengers, and that they are investigating the incident.
“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,” the statement read.
Isman confirmed that the aircraft would be checked and treated as appropriate.