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Travel Health & Safety Blog

Fallen Luggage Causes Facial Laceration

Passenger Endures Disturbing Facial Laceration from Fallen Luggage on a Flight to Chicago

During a flight to Chicago, a falling suitcase lacerated an unsuspecting traveller's face, sending shockwaves of concern through fellow travellers and the flight crew. The overhead bin had unexpectedly released its cargo, prompting swift action from the crew. They immediately assessed the injury, administered first aid, and contacted MedLink for further guidance. The flight crew's calm and professional demeanour helped stabilise and reassure the injured passenger until the plane touched down when medical professionals were ready to take over. This incident underscores the importance of remaining alert during air travel and the need for efficient, well-coordinated responses to in-flight injuries.

A 28-year-old female was travelling from Houston to Chicago to visit relatives for the weekend. On the plane, she was seated in an aisle seat in economy class. An hour into the flight, she was watching a movie on her laptop when suddenly she heard a loud noise and felt something heavy hit her face. The overhead bin had opened, and a carry-on suitcase had fallen out.

The impact caused a deep laceration on her forehead, just above her left eyebrow. The passenger was in shock and did not realise how bad it was until she saw blood on her hands. She immediately pressed her hand to her forehead and felt a sharp pain. Passengers who witnessed the incident nearby notified the flight crew for assistance.

One flight attendant contacted MedLink for guidance and assistance, and with permission from MedLink physicians, another flight attendant used the Enhanced Emergency Medical Kit:


  • The flight attendant assessed the severity of the wound by examining it closely and asking questions about how she felt and what she remembered had happened.
  • The flight attendant applied firm pressure on the wound to control the bleeding with a sterile gauze pad.
  • When the bleeding had stopped, the flight attendant used an antiseptic solution to clean the wound gently.

In considerable pain, the passenger was anxious about the severity of her injury. She was feeling symptoms of severe headache, dizziness, and nausea. The flight attendant conveyed the situation and symptoms to the MedLink physician. He advised the crew member to cover the wound with a sterile dressing and apply a cool compress to the injured area to reduce swelling. For the pain, the doctor prescribed two paracetamol tablets.

Ensuring the passenger received professional medical attention upon arrival at the destination was vital. Therefore, the MedLink medical team arranged for emergency medical services to meet the passenger upon landing in Chicago. She was admitted to the nearest hospital for observation and further treatment. The wound was sutured, and she received a CT scan of her head to exclude any other injuries. Finally, the hospital discharged her with instructions for wound care and follow-up with her primary care physician.

Though in-flight injuries are uncommon, they can cause physical discomfort and emotional distress for passengers and crew members alike. A well-trained crew that can deliver prompt and effective care, supported by expert guidance, instils a sense of calm and confidence. This reassurance helps to alleviate the concerns of unwell passengers, ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone on board.

Bill Dolny, CEO MedAire


Business and General Aviation Aviation Airlines