Dearest readers, I’ll begin by documenting the longest domestic flight in the world on business class from Réunion to Paris. And then I’ll end with how I forced an emergency landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia for an in-flight medical emergency. Yeah, it escalates quickly.
36 hours ago, I was lucky enough to snag the first leg of my return home from Réunion to Paris with a domestic-level award redemption via SkyTeam on Air France.
The check-in process starts with skipping the lines!
Even though it’s a domestic flight, they still checked passports:
Lounge access at Réunion is a pleasant and simple lounge hosted by Air France. The WiFi here is worse than the general airport’s.
Once we boarded, I realized that the 2-3-2 configuration never wins:
And despite everything feeling a little dated in the hard product — especially with the in-flight entertainment showing a paltry number of films that also skipped every 3-4 seconds when playing, I did dig the high quality champagne and getting all the slippers, socks and coat hanger immediately upon seating:
They handed out a unique envelope style amenities pouch about 10 minutes after boarding:
Nice touches included CLARINS face and hand creams, cooling cream, mints, a glasses wipe, and a pen:
The oversized menu:
They began serving food about an hour after take off. The quality was exemplary, of which Air France has been known for —
Started with some light bites and smoked salmon:
I followed that up with the tender braised beef chuck:
And finished with a cheesecake and fruit salad:
I then knocked out with 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep before waking up to a simple breakfast of yogurt, quiche and another fruit salad an hour and half before landing:
Once landing in Paris ORY airport, I transferred onto my second but quick 1.5 hour flight to Nice, but not before hanging out at the Air France lounge for an hour:
Then in Nice I switched from Terminal 2 to 1, kicked back for a few hours at the Library Lounge, and caught up on preparing for the next monsoons to Greenland and Egypt.
I then switched over to my third flight on SWISS Air for a 1 hour detour to Zurich:
During my 1.5 hour layover at Zurich, I made the most out of my half an hour at the SWISS Business Class Lounge next to my gate:
And then finally, upon boarding, I was able to score the highly coveted “throne” seat on Swiss Air’s 1-2-1 configuration.
This was what I’ve been waiting for:
So MUCH SPAAAACE. It makes a huge difference, especially when I’m offered champagne and a hot towel before take off:
My amenities kit was simpler than Air France’s, but I do dig the free Victorinox bag:
Food service began about an hour after takeoff:
I opted for the cod:
Dessert was a cheese plate, a port wine, and a chocolate mousse:
Afterwards they dimmed the lights about 3 hours into the flight and from then on with all my space I studied for my upcoming oral board exams in October. The in-flight entertainment left a lot to be desired.
…and then just like that everything changes.
At around the halfway mark I hear an overhead announcement asking for immediate medical assistance. Not the first time this has happened (although back then I wasn’t even in medical school at the time).
I introduce myself as an ER physician and get to work. Within 10 minutes we get everything stabilized and I’m relaying a message to ground control for immediate ambulance transport to the nearest ER from the gate at Newark International Airport. Then 5 minutes later I discuss with the captain and pilot whether instead to land the plane at the nearest airport (Halifax). Didn’t expect to return to work so quickly.
2 hours later, things take a turn for the worse. The patient has a bloody show, heart rate rises, and systolic blood pressure drops from 140s to 120s. With the help of a former EMT and General Surgery nurse from Switzerland, we move her to the front lavatory for more space, place an IV, hang a bolus on a coat hanger for volume resuscitation, and I’m sitting on the floor of the lavatory holding her hand asking for her blood type (she doesn’t know and husband doesn’t know). I request forceps, but they don’t have it.
I then request from the captain to make an emergency landing immediately at the nearest airport (Halifax or Boston) and call for O negative blood at the gate.
Within 45 minutes we’re on the ground in Halifax, Nova Scotia and I’m giving report to the EMT crew who quickly board the plane accompanied by cautious border agents (cuz you know, we live in the age of Trump).
They quickly take her away, and she remains awake, stable, and in much better hands.
The aftermath comedown and feels becomes very real, and I become too tired to process whether I did the right thing or not, or whether I could have done any better. The free Chivas Regal 12 Yr I get right afterwards helps:
After about an hour of refueling, we took off again at 8pm where I was then persistently showered with free stuff by the flight attendants. I in turn also persistently refused over and over, but every time I came back from the bathroom, they would leave more items on my desk.
I reasoned perhaps it’s more of my business class status why they were equally, if not more stubborn with the free stuff? I remember having witnessed other passengers in business and first class receive similar items for birthdays, anniversaries, and having elite status. . .
I however did acquiesce to the free pajamas they offered from First Class to replace my blood-stained clothing.
And as a nice denouement, we all finished with some poké and fruit salad right before landing:
Who would’ve thought how within 6 hours I would go from sitting on a Business Class throne holding a glass of champagne and asking for a warm towel at take-off, to sitting on the floor of an airplane lavatory holding a stranger’s hand and asking for her blood type at landing?
An analogy to life. And I won’t apologize for recognizing this as such. Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.
And as I disembark the plane, there’s rounds of applause everywhere for me, from the gate to passport control to customs.
Am I in a movie?
I was so tired after this experience, I realized I just accidentally left behind my Invisalign case and retainers behind on the airplane after disembarking. Womp womp.
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- At time of posting in Halifax, it was 21 °C - Humidity: 64% | Wind Speed: 14km/hr | Cloud Cover: cloudy, rainy