Freaky redeye…

Just arrived in Washington Dulles off a redeye from Seattle. I was in seat 6C, the aisle seat in the last row of first class on a 757. I had  the same lovely crew on that flight that I had from San Francisco to Seattle yesterday evening, and everything was going well. My special meal was loaded and I fell asleep about half way through the movie “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”

And then I woke up to the noise of my seatmate choking, or something like that. I was in a total daze since I was half asleep, but I immediately heard the flight attendant ask over the PA if there was a doctor aboard. Then this passenger started making really, really loud noises which woke up everyone in first class and the front half of economy. I can’t even begin to describe the noise. The flight attendants thought he was having a seizure. Holy cow, this is scary. I got up so the doctor could take a look at the passenger and waited with the flight attendants in the galley, as they noted how fast my heart was beating.

I then took a seat in 16C, the exit row, for about half an hour, at which point the flight attendants said I could return (after advising me that he went to the bathroom to change his pants… might just stay in economy then!). I felt bad for my seatmate as he was obviously embarrassed, though I was happy to see he was ok. He mentioned he had been food poisoned the night before and shouldn’t have flown. I then asked whether he was better, and he said he was still a bit queasy. Given that I had an aisle seat, there was no way in hell I could sleep anymore in case he had another “attack.”

What a flight. Might not be all that alert in class today!

Filed Under: Travel
  1. “changed his pants”

    How many people carry a spare pair of pants in their carry-on? OK, maybe a few here and there.

  2. Wow I think i would have stayed in the exit row. By the way, what special meal did you order? Are any of them better than the standard offerings?

  3. If I had food poisoning, I’d make sure to being extra pants, just in case….or he had a carry-on

  4. It sounds like he might have been an epileptic. That sort of choking and spasms doesn’t seem typical of food poisoning, and its also fairly common for people having seizures to urinate or defecate, as they lose control of their body entirely. It can be quite embarrassing for them. Poor guy! Glad everything was ok!

    -Alex the EMT

  5. I’ve never had this happened on my flight (and hope I will never get to experience it). Even as a healthcare provider, I would probably need to calm myself down and think carefully of what I would do, especially on a redeye!

    In case of a seizure though, I think there is nothing to be done except watching the airway, making sure the patient is not at risk of injuring himself, and noting the duration of the seizure. Now if it was an MI or something, it would be a whole different story.

    Glad he was fine, and glad you were fine as well!


  6. RE: How come there is ALWAYS a doctor aboard???

    According to the most recent National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, about 7m people are employed in the US as Healthcare Practitioner and Technical Occupations and about 4m in Healthcare Support Occupations. Assuming a rough US population of 300m and everyone having an equal chance of being on a 757:

    1-((289/300)^184) = 99.89% chance of having someone actively working in a healthcare profession on the plane with you.

    Anyways, you can play with the numbers, but you can see how the likelyhoods add up.

  7. Sickness on a plane is bad. Makes me think of Snakes on a Plane! But let me tell you why United is not most necessarily the friendliest carrier in the sky when it comes to Medical….

    My boyfriend and I were on a Denver / Chicago flight on UA a while back. He’s an MD. I remember a call for a doctor. Some older lady was having “chest pains”. Before they would let him help, they had to go though the “documentation process” wherein they validate his identification as a physician (Among other things). Once he jumped through the Hoops of United, he was allowed to help the woman… who turns out was suffering from Hispanic hysteria syndrome (hhs is an actual diagnosis). In any case, in exchange for turning over all his credentials (and signing his life away) to the UA attendants, my boyfriend requested documentation on the event (in the slight case that this woman had some reason to pursue him at a later date). He’s thinking legal/court/suit as most physicians are. Unfortunately even with a bunch of follow-ups to the 847-700 numbers, he was never able to get any concrete documentation on what happened (even though was promised to be faxed to his office by a FA).

    No skykits, nor even a letter of thanks.

    And long story short — that’s why we choose to fly American.


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