Flying – It’s Still An Adventure

No matter how often I fly it seems that there is still one more adventure to be had. On the way to Chicago I had two.

Today’s flight had just reached cruising altitude when there was a medical emergency on the plane. From my seat in 8A there was not much that I could know, but the flight crew moved quickly and efficiently to manage the situation. We have continued to Chicago so I assume that the situation was resolved or at least stabilized.

We count on so much from those around us. When we think of medical issues it’s in the context of a 911 call and a screaming ambulance ride to the hospital. At 30,000 feet there is very little that can be done. There is the traditional call for any doctor who is on the flight but for the most part the cabin crew is left to their own nerves and training. They are working in cramped conditions to assess a patient who may have no friends or relatives on the flight with them to offer background information or medical history.

Fortunately technology is now on the plane which rivals a fully equipped ambulance of ten years ago. Heart monitors and defibrillators and medical kits were quickly pulled from the cabinets above my head over 7B.

However, no technology can substitute for the caring concern and quick reactions of a well prepared team. From the tie-back of the curtain separating First Class to the efficient movement of the cabin service cart out of the way, it was obvious that this team knew their roles and performed them well.

And then, like volunteer firefighters and National Guard troops, they return to their regular tasks, even asking me if I would like a refill on my coffee.

As we were about thirty minutes out from Chicago our Captain came on the intercom to explain the bumpy ride and increase in noise. Turns out when we left DFW they had anticipated that we would need to fly around some storms in route. The storms moved off and we were able to. Ove back to a much more efficient path – however this left us in the position of being too heavily loaded with remaining fuel. To prevent an overweight landing and subsequent aircraft downtime we had descended into thicker air and extended the spoilers, along with starting the auxiliary power units. This would burn off enough fuel to get us to Chicago on time and with the proper fuel load.

An elegant – if bumpy – solution to the good fortune of a faster route.

Flying is still an adventure but it is not what it used to be. Do I miss the days of real silverware and flights that included a hot breakfast? Of course – who would not long for the days past where flying was and elegant and comfortable way of moving from point a to point b.

However I believe one thing has not changed. Regardless of feelings about unions and contracts, work rules and pointless administrivia, the people who keep us safe and comfortable in the air are professionals who have good days and bad days but in the end they are dedicated to doing the best that they can for those who rely on their skills

A big thank you to the flight and cabin crew of AA Flight 2324 from DFW to Chicago on August 10th at 6:50 am. I and at least one other person on this flight appreciate your dedication and professionalism.