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Monday, 8 January, 2001, 22:23 GMT
Air passengers to sue over blood clots
airline seats
The cases will centre on claims about deep vein thrombosis
Two passengers are to sue the airlines they flew with over claims they suffered blood clots from sitting on long-haul flights in cramped conditions.

British Airways and Airtours are to be sued by solicitors Leigh Day on behalf of the unnamed clients in two separate cases.

Court proceedings will commence within a couple of months

Geraldine McCool
Both claim they suffered symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when they stepped off the aircraft, said solicitor Geraldine McCool.

She told BBC News Online: "Court proceedings will commence within a couple of months and it could go to trial within 12 to 18 months."

Miss McCool said the cases, which are being privately funded by the unnamed clients, are being taken under the terms of the Warsaw Convention, the agreement governing airlines' responsibilities for loss and injury.

A BA spokesman said he was unable to comment until the company had received the writs.

An Airtours spokeswoman declined to comment before the company received details of the court action.

Economy class syndrome

DVT has been dubbed "economy class syndrome" because of suspected links with the clots - which can be fatal if they reach the lungs or brain - and cramped conditions in cheaper airline seats.

At the weekend it was reported that another family is considering taking legal action against an airline after father-of-four Thomas Lamb died following a long-haul flight from Heathrow to Australia.

The 68-year-old complained of breathing difficulties on arrival in Melbourne and was taken to hospital, where he fell into a coma and later died from a DVT which made its way to his lungs.

Up to 30,000 people a year are thought to die from DVT, according to the Oxford-based Aviation Health Institute.

'More information needed'

In October, bride-to-be Emma Christoffersen, 28, from Gwent, died when she collapsed minutes after stepping off a 20-hour flight from Australia.

A recent parliamentary report said passengers should get more information about the health risks of flying.

As well as including health warnings with long-haul tickets, airlines should also consider giving passengers more legroom and less alcohol, says the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

The report called for small display cards at the ticket sale point which asked passengers whether they were fit to fly.

In addition, it said, airlines should give health briefings as part of the pre-flight safety drill.

However, it found that there was no evidence that airlines were compromising the quality of air in the cabin in order to save money.

The precautions passengers can take to avoid DVT include drinking plenty of water and exercising during the flight.

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See also:

23 Oct 00 | UK
The seats of discontent
10 Nov 00 | Health
More evidence of flying risk
23 Oct 00 | C-D
Deep vein thrombosis
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