I mentioned about some excitement on the way to Vienna from Bangkok recently. I was flying home from spending 68 Hours in Singapore. My return flight started in Singapore and I connected in Bangkok and Vienna before landing in Chicago. The longest leg was from Bangkok to Vienna, which I flew Austrian Airlines Business Class.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Vienna
1. causing laughter or amusement; humorous
2. difficult to explain or understand; strange
So this story uses the second definition of funny of course.
About half way through the flight, the cabin was dark, I was napping. A flight attendant nudges me and says: “Entschuldigung, sind Sie Arzt?” My college German classes didn’t fail me. I knew she asked if I was a doctor. I answered and she thanked me and moved on to the next passenger. Everyone asked for more details, but she wouldn’t say any.
I was awake now, I decided to go to the washroom. As I came out, I heard the pilot speaking with a flight attendant. He mentioned their plan to land in Delhi, India, but the ill woman wouldn’t be allowed in India. We need to find another airport.
I don’t know why we couldn’t land in India. Would the woman be restricted from landing because of her nationality? Who is restricted from visiting India? Was her illness restricting her from landing?
I sat back in my seat and saw that our flight path had changed. We were staying on a southern trajectory, straight toward Delhi. I wanted another glass of wine at this point, so I headed back to the galley. This time, the pilot and flight attendant were looking at a print out of the manifest. They then said, as she was filling my wine glass, that the second airport wouldn’t work either. The plan was to land in Tehran, but one passenger wouldn’t be allowed. That one passenger was likely me, as I travel on a US passport. The pilots mentioned that the crew would time out while on the ground and there weren’t any replacement pilots available until the next day.
This was a bit concerning to me. Firstly, because if this woman needed medical attention, we need to get on the ground. Secondly because I sure didn’t want to run into issues in Iran.
I return to my seat, with my very full glass of wine. The passenger across the aisle from me, rings the flight attendant call button and tells them he’s a veterinarian. He heads back to lend a hand. After 10 minute he returns to his seat and tells us (we were all staring at him, looking for an update) that she’ll be fine and we can land in Vienna. He then said that “people are just big animals” and let out a booming laugh.
So we continued on to Vienna without another word about the ill passenger, until we landed. An ambulance met us and took the passenger off. Nothing else was mentioned about this. Have you ever had a medical emergency while en route? What about restricting landings in a medical emergency for diplomatic / passport issues?
I’m happy that this woman was healthy enough to make it to Vienna. People were very curious as to what was happening, but they also respected her privacy and didn’t hover over her.
Have you ever had an emergency landing in a country where you weren’t welcomed? Did you get off the plane? How was this situation handled?