Relative tells of poignant final message from American woman who died after long-haul flight to Dubai

Brandi Hodges died shortly after landing in the Emirates for a holiday on June 6

An Emirates flight from Dubai to Manchester was forced to call for assistance after landing early Tuesday morning due to technical difficulties.
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An American woman died on board a transatlantic flight from New York to Dubai soon after messaging a relative to say she had landed safely in the UAE.

Brandi Hodges was travelling to the Emirates for a holiday with her cousin when  she died in June.

An initial postmortem examination carried out in the UAE revealed Ms Hodges, 40, died of heart failure, shortly after landing in Dubai following a 13-hour flight.

But one family member told The National that a second postmortem examination, carried out in the US, noted the cause of death as an embolism. An embolism is a blockage in an artery caused by a foreign body, such as a blood clot or an air bubble.

Her family faced further anguish as her body could not be repatriated to the  US for several days.

Due to the death occurring during the Eid Al Fitr holiday, many businesses had shut down for an extended period. As such, her cousin, Gloria Ray-Banks, said Ms Hodges's body remained in a UAE hospital for 10 days before a postmortem examination was carried out.

"We are still coming to terms with her death now," Ms Ray-Banks said.

“I still have the text she sent saying they had landed in Dubai safely.

“Just hours after receiving that text I got a call from my sister, who was on the plane with Brandi, to say she had passed away.”

Ms Hodges, who was described as being fit and healthy by friends and family, travelled to Dubai with her cousin on board an Emirates flight on June 6. It marked her first trip to the UAE.

Shortly after landing she complained she felt short of breath, before passing out. Ms Hodges was given oxygen and ice before she fainted again.

She was then taken by ambulance to a medical room at the airport, where first responders tried, unsuccessfully, to revive her with a defibrillator.

Ms Hodges's body was  eventually flown home to Chicago in the US on June 12 and her funeral was held on June 22, 16 days after she passed away.

A large majority of the repatriation costs were paid by Emirates airline.

“The UAE authorities were very helpful during what was a very difficult time for our family," Ms Ray-Banks said.

“They assisted by putting us in touch with the right people to arrange the repatriation.

“Days before we flew Brandi home, an Emirates representative called and said the airline would help pay the costs of her final journey to be reunited with her family.”

In all, the airline contributed about $5,000 (Dh18,000) towards the flight costs, and Ms Hodges’s family paid the remaining $2,000 (Dh7,000).

Emirates airline was contacted for comment but declined to comment further on the incident.

Sitting still for an extended period of time can affect blood circulation and lead to the development of blood clots. Flights of four hours or more may be a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Medical professionals recommend using compression stockings on flights, to lower the risk of DVT or PE, as well as performing regular leg exercises on board.