Skip to main content /WORLD /WORLD

Deep vein test case for airlines

LONDON, England -- Writs have been issued against British Airways and Virgin Airlines in a test case over deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Monday's action in the High Court in London was brought by lawyers for more than 150 people who allegedly suffered from DVT, commonly known as economy class syndrome, during flights.

DVT, which can cause fatal blood clots, is thought to affect passengers who sit for long spells in cramped conditions.

Travel tips  to avoid deep vein thrombosis
Economy class syndrome 
What is deep vein thrombosis? 

The writs are on behalf of Lyn Walcott from Essex, south-east England, whose husband, Nigel, died in October 2000 following a BA flight from Barbados to London Gatwick, and Peter Wilson, of Hertfordshire, south England, who developed DVT after a Virgin flight from Hong Kong to London Heathrow in October 1998.

The case could set a legal precedent in determining how responsible airlines are for DVT. If successful, the action could prompt thousands of other claims.

Collins Solicitors, the firm bringing the action, represents about 150 people worldwide. Claims for damages vary from case to case.

The firm is in contact with lawyers in Australia who have already begun legal action on behalf of 2,700 airline passengers.

Steve Acres, from Collins Solicitors, the firm bringing the action in the UK, said the case could have far-reaching implications for airlines and passengers.

"Passengers will end up being more informed. If you are getting on an aeroplane you need to know there's a potential risk of DVT," he told CNN.

Senior partner Des Collins added: "Untold numbers of people have seen their lives badly affected or very often ruined as a result of this problem. We have to resolve it as soon as possible."

A BA spokeswoman said: "We would like to reassure the travelling public that BA takes the health and safety of its passengers extremely seriously.

"There is no conclusive evidence to link DVT with flying per se, however we know that it is linked with long periods of immobility, and that can be on a train or any other form of transport.

"But we are keen to learn more about DVT and whether there is anything about the cabin environment which may be a factor and therefore we are committed to becoming involved in further research."

BA says it has given passengers travel health information for years, including in-flight exercise videos, information in its in-flight magazines, online and over the phone. BA and Virgin Atlantic Airways said they were awaiting details of the proceedings.


• British Airways
• Virgin Atlantic

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top