Maybe it’s me but as of late I’ve had my share of travel issues. That’s to be expected with the amount of time I spend on the road and statistically I’m due for some travel related issues but do they all have to come at once?
Recently I’ve started to experience of string of emergency related landings. The last one was due to the plane catching on fire in flight. This most recent one was due to a medical emergency. Indianapolis is my home airport so we took off for Minneapolis (incidentally I was flying there for my last emergency landing as well) without issue.
I was looking at the window as we flew over Lafayette, IN – which is where I live when the flight attendance got on the PA and asked if there was a doctor or anyone with medical training on board. A few people got up and started helping a lady who was unconscious. Within a few minutes the plane begin to bank and I wondered if we were going to land somewhere. They had started doing CPR on the passenger and had her laying down in the aisle. They also were giving her oxygen.
Since we were over Lafayette and there is a runway at Purdue I wondered if we were going to stop there or if we would return to Indy. Turns out we returned to Indy. It took 15 minutes from the time we turned around over Lafayette until we landed in Indy. It takes me an hour to drive those same 70 miles.
This emergency landing was different in that it seemed all the normal landing rules were suspended. They didn’t do any safety checks, they didn’t make us put our seatback in the upright and locked position or raise our tray tables. The passenger was still lying on the floor with her husband and many others crouched over her. In this case the flight attendants asked those who were seated around them to buckle into the aisle seats and then lock arms over those on the floor in the aisle to hold them in place as we landed.
Once on the ground we were met by the Indy Airport fire and rescue crews. The plane quickly taxied to a gate and they boarded and got the passenger off the plane on a small stretcher. Her husband followed with other passengers helping him gather their belongings.
As those who were helping her sat down they told us that she and her husband were on their way to Hawaii to renew their wedding vows. Her husband told them that she hadn’t been feeling well the past few days but made herself get out of bed to take this trip. She has passed out and lost all her color.
I’m not aware of how the situation turned out but please pray for this lady and her family.
Now the wait was on to see what would happen to the rest of us as we sat on the plane at the gate. While the Delta flight crew did a great job responding to the situation the Delta ground crew now had to figure out what to do with all of us. With it being Spring Break time there were no other seats available on any other flights and the airline had to solve 2 problems. First, they had to find a departure slot and second, they hand to replace our oxygen tank as it had been used up.
After waiting for 2 hours we were finally cleared to take off. I have no idea if we ever got our oxygen tank or not. I was impressed with how relaxed the rest of the passengers were. Many were traveling for Spring Break and were going to miss connections putting their plans on hold. Context is everything in a situation like that and it is hard to complain about being late when you’re sitting there healthy. I think everyone was also thinking that they would want the same courtesy and attention paid to them if they were the on the floor of the airplane aisle.
I arrived at my destination 4.5 hours late and was thankful. Again, contextually in the grand scheme of things I had no reason to complain.
I fly again tomorrow and pray for the sake of those around me that it is an uneventful flight.