How Flight Attendants Deal With In-Flight Medical Situations?

I’ve been very fortunate as a flight attendant, in that I’ve never had a serious medical situation. Most of the flight attendants I speak to say they usually have someone lying on the ground at least once on a major pairing.

For the first time; I had a flight with a medical situation that went beyond handing someone an air sickness bag. I was in the galley that day so I wasn’t at the scene during the event, but I got the details none the less.

One of the other flight attendant came into the galley and told me we had a medical situation. I poked my head out from the curtain and saw a passenger lying in the aisle towards the front of the aircraft. The front galley flight attendant was tending to him.

“What happened?”, I asked.

The flight attendant told me that the pax got up, said “I’m not feeling well” and passed out. Luckily the flight attendant he spoke to caught him as he went down so he didn’t hit his head. After speaking to the people we were travelling with, we learned he was very claustrophobic. He likely suffered some form of panic attack. When he came too, we moved the other passengers seated in his row to another space so he could have a little extra room. We also opened the gaspers above his seat to give him some fresh air. We give him a little positive re-assurance and he was fine.

This pairing was also a big one for air sickness. Being a vacation charter, we often have ill passengers on the way home. People tend to soak up way too much sun and toss back a few too many drinks on their last day at an all inclusive resort. That doesn’t make for comfortable air travel.

One example was on the same flight as our claustrophobic pax. While doing my safety demo, a passenger tried to ask me for something. I was about to whisper something like “Just a moment” when I realized he was trying to alert me to the man throwing up (luckily into an air sickness bag) in the seat next to him. Between the English and French demos I grabbed another bag from an unoccupied seat nearby and put it in the seat pocket in front of the ill passenger.

After the demo and once the cabin was secure, I told my Cabin Manager and other flight attendants about the passenger. Apparently the aft flight attendants already knew, since that pax had already thrown up all over one of the lavatories back there. Great.

I let them know I’d be taking care of this passenger.

After take off I made my way back to his seat with a few extra sickness bags and a can of ginger ale. I was going to tell him that the washroom he’d used earlier was now closed*, but if he felt sick again he should use it and that if he needed to lie down we had 3 seats set aside for him.

When I got to his seat he’d already passed out. I left the drink and bags with him and told the passenger next to him (who I think was his son?) to call for me if they needed anything.

He was fine for the rest of the flight. When he woke up I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was doing better. Good.



*As for that closed lavatory; I had actually planned to clean it up and reopen it. In my opinion it wasn’t that bad. However our CM informed me not to; as it’s not in our job description and it’s a health hazard.

1 thought on “How Flight Attendants Deal With In-Flight Medical Situations?”

  1. Happy (almost) New Year, Jet. You’re flying and writing your wey well into your second season and, as I understand it, having a blast. Of course, ill pax are never fun, for the crew or for the individual -and especially not for their seatmates. In my experience, you folks are extremely well trained in dealing with the minor afflictions that affect the flying and partying public, as well is differentiating the minor from the serious. With a , I love to say, “stay in your galley,” but I know that this is just not an option for you and I congratulate you for being willing to assist when necessary. In a few hours or a few days, you might see a back-channel note on in-flight health issues. Until then, Happy New Year and know that I enjoy reading your posts. Your insight is remarkable and your devotion to the prescribed levels of service is impressive. While there is probably zero chance that I’ll be flying your particlular airline anytime soon (primarily geography), if I did, I know that I’d be well cared for. Late this evening, I’ll hoist a small one on your honor. -C.

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