Flights during the holiday season are full, if not overbooked at times… depending on your destination. I have had the pleasure of flying since childhood, and without any mishaps or emergency events at 20,000 feet, but my day was about to change.
Airports are crowded as Christmas approaches, and people appear anxious while waiting in the gate area. Southwest Airline boards according to group numbers, as there are no reserved seats, however they do pre-board for those needing assistance. I believe that many passengers today try and take advantage of that, because most of them want to sit near the front of the aircraft, while others are just plain rude because they’re impatient; I experience this frequently, as I’m sure many of you have, example being: 1 family member may be in a wheelchair (yet they were spotted walking around earlier) and they have 3 others with them so they can all pre-board. Last week I watched about 20 people pre-board, rushing down the jet bridge without a care of others (physically disabled), not to mention a couple lying in order to put themselves before the wheelchairs (ignoring the first officers request) this couple was relentless; it’s a disgrace…but I’ll leave that for another article.
Our flight was full and also running behind schedule, but once we got up in the air and announcements were made, the flight attendants began with their beverage service. Soon after they began, a passenger became distraught and people began to rise. The attendant stopped the service and ran down the aisle. Within seconds she came to the front of the aircraft and loudly shouted “Is there a Doctor or Nurse on board!? Please if there’s anyone with a medical background we need assistance!” Suddenly you hear a woman shouting, her husband had stopped breathing, and immediately from the rear of the aircraft popped up a young woman who was an EMT; clearly we are having an emergency situation. The medical equipment was grabbed by the flight attendants and the EMT began to put her skills at use. Then another announcement came, “Please! Everyone turn on your air vents, we need air!” The attendant grabbed the oxygen tank and took it back, while another was getting head phones in order to speak with the Captain and medical personal on the ground. All of this went on for what seemed to be an eternity, but probably was an hour or so. They stabilized the passenger and it was obvious that people on board were concerned and quiet. The two I sat next to was a gentleman with his son, whom had a mental disability (I believe Down syndrome) and I stayed calm and explained to them that they were in great hands, as attendants are well trained for any emergency; this flight crew did a phenomenal job at handling this situation along with a couple of others; but were hiccups mostly, if you catch my drift. When we finally began to descend, the flight crew asked everyone to remain seated, as the plane was being met by paramedics and the sheriffs’ department in order to let the couple off first, along with the EMT. This was absolutely the quietest plane ride to the gate, and I never heard one seatbelt unbuckle! It was nothing short of a miracle. Everyone stayed seated and no one seemed to be in a real hurry any longer. In fact, passengers thanked the crew for a job well done… and humanity and hope seemed to overcome this flight. Another man from a row behind smiled and asked if anyone needed help with their stowed carry-ons. It was like a Christmas miracle, filled with compassion and understanding. As I waited for assistance myself, one of the attendants approached me. She smiled and said she had no idea that the two next to me were not with me; I was puzzled. She then thanked me for being so kind with keeping calmness with those in the front row with me (apparently some will ask to move so they are not bothered). I explained I didn’t need to be thanked, and it was my pleasure. I also told her ‘I was the one Blessed that day, and we can all learn something from those with a mental disability, as they have no concept of meanness in this world. This is what the world needs, more kindness, consideration and hope. Thanks Southwest Airlines for your professional services, and may you all have a safe and blessed Christmas.
Make your week count.