A British Airways Boeing 747 has been taken out of service for fumigation after a bedbug infestation was discovered.
"Whenever any report of bedbugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it — this happened in this instance," a BA spokesperson told Mashable.
The Sun reported that the aircraft was kept in service for the better part of a week after the infestation was first noticed, because airline staff “did not have time” to address the problem.
However, British Airways has denied this, telling Mashable: “we wouldn't let a plane continue to fly if we knew it had an issue”.
A BA spokesman said: “Reports of bedbugs on board are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we continually monitor our aircraft.”
This is not the first report of bedbugs on BA flights. As well as several reports in 2015, there appears to have been an outbreak in 2011, according to social media posts:
My sister flew @British_Airways flight 85 from LHR-YVR Sat July 12. Hours after arrival covered in bed bug bites. No response to 2 emails.— Josiebeans (@josiebeans) July 19, 2015
In 2011 Zane Selkirk, a 28-year-old Yahoo product manager from Los Angeles, published a single-issue website to make people aware of what she alleged was BA’s “unhelpful and unfriendly” response to her complaints. The site was the topic of much discussion at the time, although it is no longer in operation.
She wrote at the time, according to Mashable: "There were at least four live ones on my shirt, another two crushed on my shoulder, and a blood stain on the back of my shirt where I must have leant back on a full-size (and full-stomached) one.”
The warm conditions in centrally heated hotels are ideal breeding grounds for the bugs, who hitchhike with long-haul air travellers to spread across the world. In July two holidaymakers were offered compensation by Thomas Cook after they suffered severe rashes due to a bedbug infestation at a resort in the Dominican Republic.
While the unpleasant creatures have always had quite a wide distribution they have become increasingly widespread since the early 1990s.