British Airways Plane Taken Out of Service for Bed Bugs When Crew Refuse to Fly

It was only just Saturday when I wrote about a British Airways business class passenger discovering bed bugs on his London – Cape Town flight. I wrote about bed bugs on a BA flight back in October too.

Now there’s a new story out about British Airways having to cancel a flight from London Heathrow to Accra, Ghana because cabin crew refused to work the aircraft due to the presence of bed bugs.

BRITISH Airways had to ground a jet after the cabin crew refused to fly on it due to a bedbug infestation.

…The flight to Ghana eventually left Heathrow four hours late.

…A BA source said: “The cabin crew saw bedbugs crawling over the seats — visible to the naked eye.

British Airways Operates a Boeing 747-400 to Accra

Media reports don’t identify the day in question where bed bugs were found on BA81 however there were only two days in the past month where the flight left around four hours late — January 13 and December 22.

According to BA, “The comfort of our customers is paramount, so as soon as this very rare issue was identified at Heathrow, we immediately took the aircraft out of service for treatment.”

In general I believe that airlines don’t clean their planes often enough or deeply enough for my tastes. And given the number of passengers, destinations, and flights unpleasantries are bound to happen. But bed bugs sure seems to come up with British Airways, and given the other attempts at cost cutting we’ve seen (such as IT outsourcing in advance of their IT meltdown last summer) it at least raises the question whether cost cutting cleaning contracts leave planes in worse condition than one would expect?

Instead of a thorough cleaning I bet a lot of customers wouldn’t mind just installing all new seats since it’s well past time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. I for one would really like to know the tail number of this aircraft. We have a long haul BA 747 400 flight coming up soon. eeew.

  2. And, FWIW, the aircraft that flies the out and back to Accra is often the aircraft that flies the LHR to PHX route. Which I have become totally burned out on since BA just can’t get that flight out on time.

  3. RE: Rats in the Galleries lounges and Bedbugs at their airplanes…

    But there’s BILLIONS of £££ for stock buybacks!

    When BA finally lays in ruins in the future, the taxpayers will get stuck footing the bill to salavage it while those who raped the company will retire with their ill gotten loot.

    So sad.

  4. I would definitely avoid a plane with bedbugs. I can’t imagine flying for 10+ hours and being bitten the entire flight by bed bugs. They are filthy creatures that feed on human blood from passenger to passenger. It’s hard to believe any airline would knowingly fly an aircraft with a bedbug infestation.

  5. Bedbugs tend to bite when people are sleeping. They get full and stop biting. So a plane could be full of bedbugs for a long time before they are detected. Most people would not even notice one or two bites. What is scarier than being bitten is having the bedbugs lay eggs on your clothes or in your bags. Then you could easily carry the bedbugs to every location you travel afterwards including your house and the next British Airways plane you fly.

    What the hell. I could fly into JFK on a British Airways flight. My bags could get bed bugs. Get on an A or E subway to go home. Some bed bugs could jump off of my bag and give bed bugs to the homeless person that sleeps on that train from 2AM to 6AM.

  6. Having just returned from a long haul R/T on BA these stories are disheartening to say the least.

    Ok, so why hasn’t BA come out and said they will deep clean all long haul planes as well as bedding ( if you can call their’s bedding) blankets and pillows? Seems the right thing to do yes ?

  7. They are not roaches; they are incredibly hard to eradicate. Up to 3-4 fumigations might be required for a thorough cleaning of the whole aircraft with all its nooks and crannies. Now weigh that against airline schedules and what these delays cost them. The fact that the crew even saw bedbugs means they had a hell of an infestation on their hands.

Comments are closed.