Robert Rippingale, a 31-year old New Zealander, died on a Jetstar flight from Singapore to Auckland after choking on his in-flight meal.
Roughly 90 minutes into the 11-hour flight, Rippingale started shaking and choking, his girlfriend, Vanessa Preechakul, told the New Zealand Herald.
The couple, who met in Singapore, were en route to Auckland to celebrate Rippingale's mom's birthday.
"One minute we were sitting next to each other kissing, holding hands and the next minute he was choking," Preechakul told the paper. Preechakul said that Rippingale chose the beef meal over chicken on the flight. He was watching the in-flight movie when she noticed he started shaking. "I thought he was laughing very hard; then I looked at his face and his eyes were rolling and he couldn't talk. His lips were turning purple," she said.
A doctor and two nurses on board performed CPR on him in the plane's galley after Preechakul screamed for help. "The doctor came to me and said he was so sorry; he did his best," Preechakul told the paper.
Rippingale's body was then moved to the crew rest area behind a curtain and covered with a blanket. The crew allowed Preechakul to sit with him for the remaining nine hours of the flight.
Andrew McGinnes, a Jetstar spokesman, expressed his condolences and said: "This was a very difficult and sad event and our sympathies are with the passenger's family." He added that the cause of death was unknown at this time and an autopsy will be performed this month.
According to Aviation Herald, passengers said that the flight's captain made an announcement addressing concerns that he spent too much time in the cabin trying to comfort Preechakul, stating that even when he was with her there were two pilots still in the cockpit.
Rippingale's funeral was held on his mother's 50th birthday,