When Canadian resident Heather Szilagyi allegedly noticed bedbugs crawling on the seats during a British Airways flight from Vancouver to London, she felt helpless.
Szilagyi was traveling with her 7-year-old daughter Molly and her fiancé Eric Neilson from Canada to Slovakia with a stop in London in October 2017.
Szilagyi has worked in the hotel industry for years, and when she saw the bedbugs on the seat in front of her and another crawling out from a TV monitor, she knew exactly what she was seeing.
— Peace Arch News (@PeaceArchNews) October 20, 2017
“It was nine hours of knowing that I was probably going to get bit, but not being sure,” she told Canadian CTV news.
Szilagyi claimed she quietly told a flight attendant about the bedbugs, but with a sold-out flight, there was nowhere else for her family to sit.
Szilagyi knew the situation was out of her control, so did her best to keep calm for the next 9 hours.
ICYMI: British Airways apologizes to bed bug-bitten travellers https://t.co/doLmGyfhJv
— CTV News (@CTVNews) October 19, 2017
“But there wasn’t really anything I could do about it,” Szilagyi said. “I was surprised I was able to relax — but what can you do?”
Once her family reached their destination, Szilagyi disinfected their belongings and put everything into plastic bags to prevent the bedbugs from spreading anywhere else.
The bite marks began to appear on her body and when Molly woke up, she found herself covered in painful bites.
“Me and my daughter are both really sensitive to insect bites, so she was just covered all over. I’ve still got a really infected one,” Szilagyi said.
She initially tried to reach out to British Airways to report the problem and make sure the plane would be treated before continuing to carry passengers.
But her attempts to reach the airline by phone did not work, as the customer service lines were always busy and her calls were eventually dropped.
So, Szilagyi turned to social media, posting a photo of Molly’s bitten legs on Twitter and tagging the airline.
The tactic worked, and British Airways soon reached out to Szilagyi to apologize and offer them upgraded seats on their return trip to Canada.
“We have been in touch with our customer to apologise and investigate further,” British Airways said in a statement according to The Guardian.
“British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year and reports of bed bugs onboard are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we are vigilant and continually monitor our aircraft.”
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