There was an unavoidable delay on my flight from Boston to London. Virgin Atlantic handled it with their usual aplomb and good communication. We were on the runway about to take off. The Captain spoke: “I’m sorry but we must return to the gate due to the sudden illness of a passenger.” Flight personnel moved to the rear of the plane as we slowly headed to the gate. Very slowly. Once there we were boarded by a hoard of emergency and rescue people (that’s what their uniforms said on the back). They flooded down the aisles to the end and attended to the person who had become ill.
After quite a bit of time, during which it was very quiet, they came up my aisle accompanying that person, who walked on her own. She was in her 20s, long straight light hair, followed up the aisle by a similar young person wearing one backpack and hauling another. It was not what I had pictured.
I had pictured an elder. I had imagined a stretcher. I had assumed unconsciousness or terrible pain. It turned out to be some sort of extreme reaction to a new medication. There was mention of sudden blindness.
The flight attendants were nearly jubilant that this had occurred while we were still on the ground. They told me stories over the long flight of emergencies in the air, where peoples’ lives were in their untrained, reluctant hands.
The rescue people de-planed with their patient and the Captain announced that due to the delays we needed to get in line to refuel. It took a long time. Once that was done, we had to get in line to be slotted in for departure. Eventually we took off. I wasn’t bothered by the two-hour delay at any point for two reasons:
One: I wasn’t in a hurry. No one was awaiting me at a specific moment on the other side. I didn’t have a meeting to make. And cheers to that!
Two: We were kept well-informed and not in platitudes. We were simply told what was going on and what was going to go on.
The only thing that bothered me was my own assumptions, not the least that it must be an older person in a medical crisis. Was it ageism on my part, or fear that next it might be me?