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CELIA RIVENBARK: First-class corpse

A first-class passenger who was taking a nap on a recent British Airways flight from New Delhi to London awoke to find the body of an elderly woman, who had died on the flight while in economy class, strapped into the seat next to him.

Which just goes to show that apparently some people will do anything for an upgrade.

As flight attendants wedged the body into the seat with pillows because of turbulence, the horrified passenger complained about having to complete the nine-hour flight with a corpse beside him. To which the flight attendants responded, "Get over it."

Oh? How exactly?

While many people have said the passenger was insensitive and shallow to complain, you must remember that this was a very long flight. No amount of hot towels, eye shades, courtesy pajamas and real china and crystal could make up for the fact that there was a body rapidly decomposing in stuffy, recirculated airplane air beside this man. Talk about ruining your foie gras. Sitting beside the recently dead can't be soothed by a choice of herbal teas and a nice hot breakfast whilst watching "Big Momma's House III" in slipperettes.

I don't think the airline handled this very well because they didn't even offer the guy a free ticket. Heck, I got one of those just for agreeing to wait an hour for the next flight to New York one time. You stick a dead person beside me for nine hours and I'll freakin' OWN your airline.

And, not to be mean about it but, really, since the poor thing was dead, did it really matter whether she flew in first-class or economy? How ironic that she probably never got to fly first-class in her life and when she finally did, she was too dead to enjoy it. The fancy noise-blocking headphones, the fabulous choice of individual movies and music channels, the "done been paid for" single-malt Scotch ... I'm just saying.

Perhaps British Airways should take a cue from Singapore Air, which, I swear, has installed "corpse cupboards" on its airliners. Is it just me or should we all be thinking that flying is way more dangerous than we thought?

I imagine even the corpse cupboards are different depending on the price you paid for your airline ticket: a roomy armoire for first-class corpses, a metal school locker for business-class fliers and, for the economy-class corpse, a vacant overhead bin if available or, if not, just a ride up and down the aisles on the bottom tray of the beverage cart for the remainder of the flight.

Which, now that I think about it, would give new meaning to the phrase "stiff drink."