Delta Planes To Carry Narcan After Passenger Dies Of Overdose

By Lindsey Weedston 07/26/19

Delta is set to follow its peers United, Frontier and Alaska Airlines, who already stock the opioid-blocking drug.

Delta plane

Delta Airlines has announced plans to stock all flights with naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, after a passenger died from overdosing in a Delta plane bathroom.

According to Twitter user Lynne Lyman, who was on the flight from Boston to Los Angeles, a young man was found unconscious in the bathroom with a needle in his arm after a fellow passenger broke the door down. 

“A man just #overdosed on my @delta flight, needle in arm he passed out in bathroom,” Lyman wrote. “The plane didn’t have a #NarcanKit. The paramedics took 10 minutes to arrive. They just carried him out in a body bag.”

Harm Reduction

Lyman then asked Delta Airlines to practice harm reduction by having a Narcan kit on every plane in a tweet that has been shared over 1,300 times.

Although the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is still testing to determine the exact cause of death, Delta took Lyman’s advice and will include naloxone in its onboard medical kits starting this fall. They will follow United, Frontier and Alaska Airlines, which already stock the opioid-blocking drug.

President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Sara Nelson, spoke out in favor of this move, citing how terrible it feels when flight attendants are unable to save someone who is dying on their flight.

Onboard Medical Kits

"When we don't have the tools to save someone it's gut wrenching. It's devastating," Nelson told CNN. "Oftentimes they're [people] on a plane traveling to a treatment center and they do not go to that treatment center sober."

Nelson responded to Lyman’s story on Twitter by saying that the man’s death is exactly why the AFA has been pressuring all airlines to carry some form of naloxone, which is often distributed in an easy-to-administer nasal spray. 

“Appreciate @lynnelyman sharing this tragic experience,” she tweeted. “Flight Attendants are aviation’s first responders and we need the proper tools to respond and save lives. In the air there are no options. I’m so sorry for you, Lynne, and the crew and other passengers who had to watch this.”

A Delta spokesperson told Fox News that they couldn’t comment on the specifics of the on-board death due to privacy concerns, but said that the decision to start stocking Narcan kits was made by the company “earlier this year.”

According to a 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the increased availability of Narcan kits saved nearly 27,000 lives between 1996 and 2014.

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at Twitter: