One Day in the Air, This Happened…
After a layover in Dallas-Fort Worth, I boarded my flight to Fort Lauderdale and everything seemed to be going smoothly. I got my kindle and magazines situated in the pocket and started to relax when…wait…are there castaways onboard?
I wasn’t exactly sure what exactly was going on. A flight attendant began walking down the aisle with a sheet of paper looking stern and annoyed. She stopped at several aisles asking for the last name of a family and to see tickets. After an exchange with some people a few rows in front of me I heard her say they had to get off the plane and talk to an airline representative.
Except…they didn’t. A few more words I couldn’t quite make out were exchanged and the flight attendant walked back to the front of the plane.
Several minutes passed and then she came back looking for yet another family and called out their name as she made her way down the aisle. This group happened to be sitting right next to me.
“We’re here, w’ere here,” the mom said and showed her boarding passes. “Maybe they didn’t scan?”
The flight attendant didn’t even look at the boarding passes, she simply marked something on her piece of paper and moved on. Apparently she didn’t think this family could be terrorists who snuck onboard. Though the jury still seemed to be out on the other family.
Another five to ten minutes passed and then I noticed a conversation occurring a few rows up and overheard the phrase “please escort her off the plane.” Then a young woman got up from her seat, grabbed her bag from the overhead and walked off the plane. She was not “escorted” however. She walked out on her own free will, so apparently…again…not a terrorist threat. But something was going on with this flight roster it seemed. And it wasn’t clear how that woman got on the plane in the first place if she didn’t actually have a seat…
But soon, all seemed well again on the plane as the person who apparently didn’t have a seat and should be on the plane appeared. As he made his way to his seat, I (and I’m sure many others on the flight) breathed a sigh of relief that the passenger shuffle seemed to be over and we would be hopefully leaving soon only marginally delayed.
Sure enough, a short time later we pulled away from the gate and started down the runway. I put my magazine away and leaned my head against the window. Just as I was starting to doze off, a voice came over the loudspeaker…
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a medical emergency with a passenger onboard and are returning to the gate.”
While I hoped the medical issue wasn’t something serious, couldn’t this person have figured out they weren’t feeling well ten minutes ago when all the seat shuffling was going on and we hadn’t left the gate yet and got off the plane then? (And actually, that may have sorted the whole lack of a seat situation.)
So back to the gate we went. I couldn’t quite see what was going on, but a passenger did leave the plane walking on her own, and then we were back on the runway.
We ended up being an hour behind schedule once the plane left.
Still, only an hour delay? In the world of air travel, that’s actually not that bad. So once again I settled in for my flight and prepared for an uneventful rest of the ride and hoped to get some sleep.
That lasted a blissful two hours.
“Is there a medical professional onboard? We have a passenger who needs medical attention.”
Two gray-haired, bespectacled men came forward and headed to the front of the plane where the ill person was. Twenty minutes passed. During this time, oxygen bottles and medical kits were walked down the aisle and then…yet another announcement:
“Folks, we’re going to make an emergency landing so will be turning around and will be landing in New Orleans in twenty minutes. Please put your seat backs into an upright position, turn off electronics, and prepare for landing.”
TWO medical emergencies in one flight and two turn arounds? And after all the seat shuffling and flight roster delay, too. What on earth was going on with this flight?
An older gentlemen a couple rows behind me attempted to provide an explanation when we landed and had cell service. He made a call to someone and didn’t bother keeping his voice down to whoever he was talking to.
“I think we’re on a hospital plane. You know, flying to Florida, lots of old people. They all just start dying.”
A bit inappropriate, yes. But that mom (a nice lady who was not a terrorist) I was sitting by and I both couldn’t help bursting out into laughter.
And surprisingly, everyone else on the plane (except the poor man needing medical attention) seemed to be in a jovial mood, too. Despite the now two delays and despite the extra hour on the ground during the emergency landing for refueling and replenishing medical supplies onboard and the paperwork that needed to be signed before we could get back in the air, everyone was surprisingly calm — happy even. I was expecting grumbling and angry outbursts to flight attendants, but instead there was a lot of joking and banter, especially in line for the bathroom (which was extremely long and extended past my row) and everyone seemed to have a “what can you do? Life happens” attitude. It was refreshing.
One flight attendant said he had never heard of two medical delays on one flight before in his ten years of flying and the pilot even came out and joked, “If anyone else is planning on having a medical emergency, could you please let us know now before we’re back in the air?” and everyone laughed.
Also, in case you’re wondering about the people that had to have medical intervention, the pilot informed us they both were doing well and getting the medical attention they needed.
So, four takeaways from this crazy flight: Double check your ticket is indeed for the plane you’re boarding. Don’t get on a plane if you feel ill. Keep a “life happens” attitude when crammed on a small plane with a hundred other people and circumstances happen beyond your control. And…as the guy on the phone suggested…maybe don’t fly in and out of Fort Lauderdale?