Jim Wilson Will Never Fly Coach or First Class Again

by P-Francone

"Jim Wilson" is American Airlines' name for a casket holding a deceased body. It's believed that Jim Wilson was the person who invented the air casket.

A woman got quite rattled at an airport several years ago when she inquired at an American Airlines desk, “Excuse me sir, is there a Jim Wilson on this flight?”

She was expecting the simple response of “yes” or “no”, but instead was told, “sure thing ma’am, I’ll call baggage right now and locate your casket.”

Although the lady was looking for her friend, Mr. Jim Wilson, she obviously wasn’t aware of the airline tradition of calling caskets on board flights “Jim Wilson”. Every year, each major airline ships thousands of bodies between every country, state and city, so when the funeral director calls the airline in the presence of the family, as an American Airlines spokesperson said “It makes things easier for them” to simply ask for Jim Wilson rather than fully explain the situation.

So next time you ask a airline attendant for your friend Jim Wilson, remember to stress that you are looking for a live passenger, and also remember that transporting a body is much easier than trying to pull a Weekend at Bernie’s.

American Airlines runs the largest Jim Wilson Service in the United States, covering over 250 cities in 40 countries, with over 1000 daily flights. Any body being shipped must travel with a health officer’s certificate or burial transit permit. The body must be secured in a sealed casket, which in turn must be enclosed in a wood, canvas, plastic or paperboard airtray. Although American Airlines doesn’t require bodies to be embalmed, most states or countries do require the body to be embalmed to help stop the spread of disease. When planning to have a body shipped, customers don’t have to plan anything with the airlines or funeral home in the other state or country, your funeral director can take care of everything for you.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, just outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands has the world’s only funeral home inside an airport. This allows for much easier transit, as the body can be kept refrigerated right up until boarding time, and helps to cut down on time and hassles that usually get in the way of transporting bodies. This mortuary opened in 1997 and currently processes 2,000 bodies per year, right there in the airport.

Read more:

Amsterdam Airport Schipol Mortuary (English Translation by Google)

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