A standard mystery plot: someone is murdered on a passenger flight while it is in the air. From a writer's perspective, this has the advantage of providing [[ClosedCircle both a closed setting and a limited suspect pool]] without either feeling overly contrived. [[TheWarOnTerror These days]] it also provides the additional puzzle of how the killer smuggled a weapon on board.

The detective can either be on the flight or brought in once the plane has landed.

The successor to ThrillerOnTheExpress (though it still gets used in non-modern settings).

!!'''As a DeathTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Used in ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' Shinichi's first case and Movie 8 both feature this.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Occurred in one issue of ''ComicBook/TheMazeAgency'' ("The Mile High Corpse" ).

* ''{{Film/Chariot}}'' is shaping up to be this.
* ''Fugitive in the Sky''.
* ''Sky Murder'', a 1940 Nick Carter film.
* ''The Falcon in Danger''.
* A variant occurs in ''Film/SnakesOnAPlane'', though the heroes figure out that the BigBad would be just as happy bringing down the entire plane.
* The 2005 film ''Film/{{Flightplan}}'' is a variant of this plot, although with a kidnapping instead of a murder. The main character's daughter disappears and she can't get anyone to confirm she existed and starts to doubt she existed herself.
* ''Film/NonStop'': A killer threatens to kill someone every 20 min until he gets a ransom and by the end one of the passengers is dead, along with the captain and another air marshal who was also on the flight.

* The TropeNamer is the Creator/AgathaChristie novel first published in 1935. This might also be the TropeMaker. Memorably features ''Poirot'' as a possible suspect (according to the jury).
* The disappearance (and apparent murder) of his wife and daughter from a plane in flight over Lake Ontario in ''Justice, Inc.'' delivers the shock that transforms Richard Benson into Literature/TheAvenger.
* The Usbourne Puzzle Adventure: ''Murder on the Midnight Plane''.
* ''{{Literature/Airframe}}'' has three, eventually four, deaths caused by a wild, out of control flight, and the identity of the fourth victim turns out to be the key to unraveling the mystery of what caused it.
* In ''Murder in the Air'' by Peter Tremayne, an executive who was planning extensive downsizing, is found murdered in a locked airplane lavatory. One of the unfortunate employees, who was also the executive's lover, rigged the executive's asthma inhaler to explode.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'' - "Unfriendly Skies"
* ''Series/CSIMiami'' - "Flight Risk"
* ''Series/{{CSI NY}}'' - "Turbulence"
* A twisted version - Series/{{House}} needs to find out if a man vomiting with sores and severe headaches is suffering from meningitis, or something else. If it's the former, they're all dead. Turns out, he's got decompression sickness, and everyone else just has mass hysteria.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Bones}}'' where they're taking a plane to China a dead body is found, and they have to discover and arrest the murderer before they touch down or else the case becomes "property" of China.
* ''Series/{{Monk}}'': In "Mr. Monk and the Airplane". The murder occurred at the airport, but Monk was on the plane with the murderer and only had as long as the flight lasted to solve the crime. It turns out that actually, there WAS a murder on the plane. The flight attendant unknowingly got rid of the evidence.
* A variation appears in the ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode "Phantom Traveler", where a demon's been causing plane crashes and the brothers have to find out who it's possessing and exorcise it, before it crashes another plane. Unfortunately, they don't manage to stop it getting on the plane, so the climax takes place on a plane. This was the first episode of the show to feature demons.
* In the ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' episode "The Mile High Job", someone on the plane has evidence they plan to destroy before it can be used against their company in court. The "evidence" turns out to be another employee, who the company wants assassinated before she can testify. [[NoKillLikeOverkill And just to be certain]], [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the company tries to bring down the whole plane...]]
* ''Series/{{NCIS}}'':
** In the pilot episode, "[[Recap/NCISS01E01 Yankee White]]", the murder occurs on Air Force One--which adds the question of how someone managed to kill someone with the Secret Service all over the place.
** The episode "[[Recap/NCISS07E13 Jet Lag]]" started out as "keep the federal witness from getting murdered" but added "find out who killed that flight's Air Marshall" to the to-do-before-the-flight-lands list.
* Parodied in a ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' sketch featuring Sir Creator/IanMcKellen as a Franchise/SherlockHolmes {{Expy}} who solves a murder aboard a ''hot air balloon''.
* The ''Series/JohnDoe'' episode "Manifest Destiny".
* Taken a step beyond the clouds in the 1985 series ''Murder In Space''. The crew of an international space mission are on the return leg from Mars to Earth when an explosion occurs on the craft ''Conestoga'', shortly after the murders start. The crew of the returning craft are forbidden to return until the murderer is caught.
* The pilot episode of ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' has an aeroplane land with everyone on board dead from a biological weapon. They then have to figure out how the weapon got on board, why, where it came from, and if there is more of it.
** Similar scenario in the episode "The Transformation".
* ''Series/MurderSheWrote'' - "The Corpse Flew First Class".
* ''Series/DiagnosisMurder'' - "Murder in the Air".
* ''Series/ElleryQueen'' - "The Adventure of the Disappearing Dagger".
* ''Series/ItTakesAThief1968'' - "Project 'X'" is TenLittleMurderVictims [[DieHardOnAnX on a plane]], complete with a GreenAesop.
* ''Series/{{Castle}}'' - "In Plane Sight." The air marshal is murdered on a trans-Atlantic flight, leaving Castle as the closest thing to an investigator aboard. Unlike most such plots, he is able to take full advantage of in-flight Wi-Fi to obtain assistance from Beckett and the rest back in New York.
* ''Series/HawaiiFive0'' Season 2 Episode 15 Mai Ka Wa Kahiko A US Marshal, escorting a prisoner back to Hawaii, is murdered in the plane's lavatory. He was trying to call Danny at the time he was killed. An old friend of Danny's, the Marshal had recognized a dirty cop. The dirty cop had just been released from prison and blamed Danny for putting him there.

* Occurs in ''Radio/CabinPressure''.
** Kinda. The only death on board is totally explicable, having had a heart attack after being frightened by Arthur with a fire-extinguisher. The more traditional use of this trope concerns a theft rather than a murder.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigationsMilesEdgeworth'' has one of these.
* ''VideoGame/{{Murder on the Zinderneuf}}'', an early Creator/ElectronicArts game originally for UsefulNotes/Atari8BitComputers, begins with a randomly selected victim taking a 5000-foot plunge off the titular zeppelin into the Atlantic Ocean. The player has twelve game hours to interrogate the fifteen surviving passengers and figure out why.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Carlos Pizarro, former guerrilla member and Colombian presidential candidate, was murdered on a plane in April 1990. A weapon was concealed in the bathroom of the plane, and a hired thug shot him at point-blank range. He was then taken down by a security agent. Paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño said later that he had planned the crime. During that same campaign, two other candidates were also killed.
* Munir Said Thalib, an Indonesian human rights and anti-corruption activist, was poisoned by arsenic on a Garuda (the flag carrier of Indonesia) flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam. His case is especially notable in that he was poisoned by the pilot, apparently under the orders of the airline's CEO. The airline was also found to be negligent in failing to divert when it was discovered Thalib was ill.