Earlier this month, I covered the story of a Transavia flight which diverted to Faro, Portugal due to complaints about the ghastly stench emanating from one passenger.
The odor seemed to get worse as the flight progressed, causing some passengers to vomit. Pilots deemed no other alternative to diverting.
In Faro, the man was rushed to a hospital, where doctors determined he was suffering from necrosis. Per Wikipedia, necrosis is a form of cell injury which results in the premature death of cells in living tissue by autolysis.
It’s a very serious issue and the man has now died in a Portguese hospital after several failed treatment attempts.
The man’s name was Andrey Suchilin, a 58-year-old Russian art-rock guitarist. Prior to his death, he wrote on Facebook:
The tragic and comic component of this whole situation is that I caught a disease, which (let’s not say how and why) makes a person quite stinky. As a result, a group of passengers may demand the captain for you to be removed from the plane.
The Ethics of Covering This Story
One Mile at a Time took a rather circumspective look at the issue this morning, reasoning:
While I hadn’t written about this exact story because something seemed odd about it to me, it has made me realize that in general I need to hold myself to a higher standard when it comes to the viral travel stories I write about. It goes without saying that there’s a reason so many sites pick up stories like this — it seems interesting/amusing, and it makes a great headline, and therefore is easy pageviews (that’s the truth, regardless of whether most others want to admit it or not)…
The only reason they make great headlines and stories is because we have very few details about what happened, and therefore can come up with funny conclusions in our heads.
I don’t apologize for writing about this story. And I did write about it for page views, as we all do with blogs driven by click-based revenue. I also wrote about it because I found it interesting: because I cannot think of a more horrible (non life-death) flight situation than a smelly passenger. But if you read what I wrote, I never poked fun at the man, nor did I jump to conclusions as to why he stunk. I simply reported the facts, as currently available.
Sometimes I write about what I want to write about, even if very few people read it (like flight reviews on obscure airlines). Other times, I write about what you, my readers, want to read. And you clearly like reading about diversion stories. As long as the facts are reported and human dignity is always respected, I see no need to pause these sorts of stories…even if additional facts emerge later.
This is a tragic story. Necrosis is horrible. This story is indeed a reminder that we need to be compassionate, always treating others with respect and never jumping to baseless conclusions.