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Insecticide spray on board before take off

Barcelona, Spain
posts: 2
reviews: 1
Insecticide spray on board before take off

Last oct. 11, I was flying back to Zurich from New Delhi, by Swiss flight nbr. LX147. Without any previous notice, once all passengers were on board and aircraft's doors closed, we've been informed that the staff would have sprayed the cabin with a not identified insecticide, accordingly to government rule and for security reasons. As I'm an alergical person I've asked wich were the components of the spray and the cheef hostess told me she did not know. They did not have any protective mask on board. She also told me that it was an obbligation for them to spray the aircraft as the Indian Governament states so. I had the most unpleasant flight of my life. I sent a complaint to Swiss customer service dept.and as an answer I've got an extract of the Indian Government Ministry of Home Affairs Health regulation where it is not stated at all that aircrafts must be desinfected before taking off any of the airport on indian territory. I've sent another mail pointing it out to Swiss Customer Service employee, Mr. Hugo Landetta, asking him more explanations and most of all the components of the spray that has been used. That was on oct. 22nd and I did not get any new back since then. A part from being very disapponted for the behaviour of Swiss C.S. my question is: is this procedure legal? I mean: is it legal to spray a closed aircraft with an unidentified insecticide without warning the passengers by previuos notice? Because in the case it is legal, I think that some action should be taken to protect passenger's health. Susanna Baldo, Tour Leader

146 replies to this topic
London, United...
posts: 17,668
reviews: 23
1. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

This is very common and a requirement from many countries ie caribean. I am really quite surprised you were unaware of it.

Did you have a severe reaction that you can point to the insecticide? Why did you have an unpleasant flight? Did you see a doctor on landing and did you report some form of reaction on the plane to the cabin crew?

Apart from the fact they sprayed, you seem to be very light on the details regarding any reaction you had and whom you reported it to and what was the response.

Barcelona, Spain
posts: 2
reviews: 1
2. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

I certainly told the cheef hostess I was feeling bad, I always have my ventolin with me, and I was using it copiously. I am asmathic. The flight was unpleasant as I was coughing all the time, my eyes were burning and breathing very difficult. The only thing the hostess could do was to bring me a wet tissue. But byond my reactions the question is: is it legal? And if yes, why passengers are not previously informed? Why nobody "knows" the name of the spray and its components? A part from the fact that this procedure is totally useless, as passengers may have stepped on some bugs eggs and the spray would not ever kill them, so.....

Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 14,004
reviews: 71
3. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off


As to the issue of legal or not.. Here you'll first have to determine whose jurisdiction the action falls... and do know that airlines and specifically actions ON the aircraft itself are a somewhat unusual case as the party with jurisdiction may not always be where the action takes/took place... so be aware of that..

Once you've determine whose jurisdiction applies, then you can see what the law states..

I *suspect* what you're going to find out is this..

While there probably is/was no law Swiss law that mandates this-- as the action took place on the ground (once in the air, a different jurisdiction issue can become reality) that it's going to be Indian law that prevails..

As such, I suspect that the answer you got, albeit perhaps a little short of better narrative, is in fact what the law prescribes..

While you say that the excerpt sent to you from LX doesn't address your case specifically, I might suggest that if LX can't or won't disclose further, that you refer your questions the Indian Embassy in Bern-- see if they can shed more light on what the rule is and is not..


My gut feeling is that LX was in fact following the law, as there's no real 'upside' for them to comply with or enforce a non-law or to miss-apply the law as it sounds like LX's staff is ones who actually applied the spray-- so to a degree LX "bears" the cost of compliance, not the Indian Government.. So I'd be hard pressed to see LX incurring the time/costs to comply with a process that is not required under the applicable statues.

Travel Safe,

Milford, Ohio
posts: 1,312
reviews: 93
4. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

I don't know about the law, but every time I left India (Bangalore) the plane was sprayed as you described. No one on board really asked and I wasn't aware of anyone getting sick. Good Luck - I could not imaging flying for hours feeling as you described.

Nairobi, Kenya
posts: 3,771
reviews: 3
5. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

Same here... my last flight Nairobi/London in September with BA they sprayed the cabin, warning us beforehand that they were required to do so. Aerosols always trigger my asthma so I covered my face with my scarf until the spray had settled. I would imagine that the onus would be on *you* to prove that the spray had caused your "unpleasant" flight; with many airlines having to do this in various locations around the world, it wouldn't make sense for them to use a substance that had not been extensively tested, I would imagine.

UK, Mauritius
Destination Expert
for Mauritius, Belle Mare, Pointe Aux Piments, Pereybere
posts: 20,930
reviews: 40
6. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

They have been spraying planes for years - my first flight to Mauritius in the mid 70s was my first experience of this.

I too use ventolin - you said you felt "bad" on the flight and that you used ventolin "copiously"?

Perhaps thats why you felt bad? Overuse of ventolin can cause rapid heart rate and other adverse reactions and your problem maybe had nothing to do with allergic reactions.

You must always follow the dosage on ventolin and not overdose yourself.

Aluthgama, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Bentota, Beruwala, Sri Lanka
posts: 36,757
reviews: 7
7. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

It's a legal requirement - not only for India and Swiss.

I have been on many flights where they sprayed the cabin. They have always given a warning so you had plenty of time to protect you mouth, nose and eyes.

Winnipeg, Canada
posts: 1,761
reviews: 178
8. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

I was on a small airplane (Spice Jet) from Kathmandu to New Delhi this past summer and the announcement was made just as the can was being dispenced from the front of the plane, right where I was sitting, moving towards to the back of the plane. I barely had time to grab my shirt to cover my face and hold my breath. The fog was so thick it hung in the air for several minutes. There was no avoiding breathing copious amounts of it in.


London, United...
posts: 17,668
reviews: 23
9. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

Susanna, if you were that bad and it was due to the insecticide, can I suggest in future you find out if the cabins are sprayed and then avoid flying to those destinations,

I am not quite sure of what you are trying to achieve. Do you wish them to not spray the cabin? Are you seeking financial recompense for what you feel we're your symptoms brought on by the spray? What exactly is your end goal here?

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
10. Re: Insecticide spray on board before take off

when the biosecurity of the destination is at stake, the discomfort of the occassional pax is a small price to pay.

haven't read of any pax deaths from cabin spraying lately.

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