British Airways plane
A British Airways Boeing 747 allegedly suffered from 'severe' infestation with bed bugs yet the aircraft continued in service. Reuters

A British Airways Boeing 747 reportedly suffered a 'severe' infestation of bed bugs, yet the aircraft continued in service. The airline staff was eventually forced to report the issue after spotting several insects and passengers complained of being bitten.

The aircraft was heading to Heathrow from the US after an entire row, 47, was closed down in the economy class due to the issue. Similar reports of infestation then emerged a few days later on the same plane during a flight from Cape Town to Heathrow.

"Whenever any report of bed bugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it," a British Airways spokesman told the Telegraph Travel. "The presence of bed bugs is an issue faced occasionally by hotels and airlines all over the world.

"British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs onboard are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we are vigilant about the issue and continually monitor our aircraft."

Meanwhile, the British Airways' press office said it would be inaccurate to call the issue an 'infestation' since there were only two bed bugs found on the flight. While bed bugs are more common to hotel beds, airplanes are not exempt as there is a frequent turnover of people. According to Berwyn Evans, UK Product Manager at the Rentokil Pest Control, bed bugs are more likely to affect frequent travellers and do not reflect poor hygiene.

Earlier, it was revealed that an 80-year-old man in Singapore has been living with bed bugs for over 20 years. It took 10 volunteers nearly eight hours to clean the man's house to rid him off the parasites using chemicals and tools, such as adhesive tape and a sand chisel. According to Dr. Cho, a specialist family doctor, bed bugs do not cause illnesses but people with sensitive skins can develop an itchy rash. To prevent bed bugs, Dr. Liu said pillows and mattresses need to be exposed to the sun regularly and the house needs to be sprayed with insecticides.