AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

There was about three hours to go on my flight home from London. I was half paying attention to the movie I had selected when the audio was interrupted by a cabin-wide announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if there is a physician or doctor on board, please identify yourself to any of the cabin crew.”

My first reaction was genuine surprise. After decades of watching TV shows and movies where a similar and clich├ęd announcement is made, I was experiencing it for the first time. How exciting! Then I realized that someone must be pretty ill for the cabin crew to have asked for a doctor.

I was seated almost at the back of the Airbus A330 and there was no commotion going here, so I looked forward. About fifteen rows ahead and in the other aisle, I saw a small group of people gathered around one particular seat. It appeared the people were concerned but not panicked. They were talking but everyone seemed relatively calm. Then one cabin attendant went to the back of the plane and then came forward again with a tank of what I assumed was oxygen. Again, there was no panic and calm conversation was conducted around this small group of people.

I really couldn’t tell or even see what was going on or who they were concerned about. After a few minutes of nothing going on, I returned my attention to whatever movie I had selected. Minutes later, I looked up again. The crowd had dispersed with the exception of one cabin attendant who was still talking to someone in their seat.

At this point, I knew whatever medical ailment had befallen this person it was serious. The plane continued trucking towards Vancouver. If this was indeed a dire medical emergency, the closest large city at this point of time was Edmonton. We would have probably diverted there but our course had not changed.

Our flight continued as normal. I guessed that maybe when we landed this person would be allowed to get off the plane first, where they might be met with paramedics at the gate. When we landed, however, there appeared to be no special deplaning procedures. Everyone left in the order of front to back, just like normal. When I left the plane and walked through the jet way, there were no medical personnel to be seen. There were none at the gate either.

I guess it was quite fortunate that person wasn’t that ill after all. Well, that’s more thing I can say I’ve seen now on a plane.

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