Swedish reporter Lena Pettersson reimbursed for sitting next to dead man on Kenya Airways flight

It's one thing to have a fellow airline passenger fall asleep and drool on your shoulder, but quite another to have him die and sit next to you throughout your flight.

That's exactly what happened to Swedish reporter Lena Pettersson on a recent Kenya Airways flight from Europe to Tanzania.

When Pettersson boarded her plane at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, she couldn't help noticing her co-passenger was in rough shape.

"He was sweating and was having convulsions," she told Sveriges Radio, the state broadcaster for whom she works. Regardless, the plane took off as scheduled.

It wasn't long after liftoff that the passenger's condition worsened. The crew put out a call for medical help and eventually was forced to give the man cardiac massage, but it didn't help. The passenger had died in his seat. The Kenyan crew, unsure of protocol, covered the man and laid him across three seats next to Pettersson until the plane landed hours later.

The airline did reimburse Pettersson for being subjected the macabre incident, but only after months of e-mail exchanges. Eventually she got $713, about half the cost of her ticket.

"This feels much better," she said. "It's reasonable. Of course it was unpleasant, but I am not a person who makes a fuss."

Death at 35,000 feet isn't terribly uncommon. Last September a man choked to death on an in-flight meal during an 11-hour trip from Singapore to Auckland. Passengers were given only $100 travel vouchers for their troubles.