Man recalls horror Qantas flight
A QANTAS passenger has shared details of a traumatic flight where his wife had a medical episode just before landing.
Sam Hooper claims the situation was made all the more distressing by the airline's handling of the incident at the time and subsequent response.
The couple were on a flight from Auckland to Brisbane last month when Mr Hooper's wife became unresponsive and appeared unable to breathe.
Mr Hooper claims the airline "recklessly and negligently endangered the safety" of his wife because they did not immediately call an ambulance or prioritise their disembarkation when they landed in Australia.
But a Qantas spokesman said their response was appropriate and apologised if the standard of care was not up to the couple's expectations.
Mr Hooper said there was no apology for the "tardiness" of Qantas's response to his complaint, or any suggestion the crew involved had been "spoken with, disciplined or retrained".
The spokesman said cabin crew were trained to handle all types of situations on-board and in this instance the crew were also assisted by a doctor who was flying on the aircraft.
Mr Hooper took to Twitter this week to share his disappointment over the flight on May 23.
"Apparently they don't care about upset passengers, just as they don't care about passengers who fall ill on their planes," he wrote.
Mr Hooper said they were about 45 minutes from landing when his wife said she felt unwell. "With panic in her eyes she went stiff as a board, became non-responsive, glassy-eyed and appeared unable to breathe," he said.
"You can understand that I was very scared to see this happen to her.
"I called for a medic, and eventually the flight attendants chatting in the back of the plane sauntered up the aisle to see what this commotion was about.
"By this time my wife was slumped forward, unconscious, leaning on the passenger in the window seat."
Mr Hooper said he did not know whether his wife had fainted, had a seizure or worse but fortunately a doctor was sitting across the aisle and helped.
The doctor worked on his wife and called for the flight crew to bring oxygen when he claims they eventually did - although he criticised them as disorganised.
"The flight attendants then insisted that my wife, barely conscious, sit with her tray table up and her seat in the upright position for landing," he said.
"I'm no medic, but that struck me as f***ing stupid. The doctor agreed. We protested to the flight attendants.
Then another flight attendant stepped in and allowed his wife to lay across three seats.
Mr Hooper said when they landed his wife was still only partly conscious.
But he said one of the worst parts of the ordeal was they did not seem to prioritise them or call ahead for a paramedic.
"Qantas flight attendants made us WAIT until every other passenger had disembarked at their leisure and toddled off the aeroplane before my wife and I could leave," he said.
"At this point we had no idea what was wrong or how serious her condition was.
"And when we eventually got off the plane, was there a paramedic waiting? … There was an airline employee with a wheelchair who had no idea about the situation that had unfolded on-board. He wanted to know if we still wanted to make our connection to LAX."
Mr Hooper said the ground crew was more helpful.
They convinced border control that his wife - a US and UK citizen with an Australian visa - had not faked her seizure to spend more time in the country and they were able to leave in an ambulance.
The couple were able to fly to LA the next day.
Qantas said it arranged this at no charge.
But Mr Hooper is still not happy.
"Qantas certainly did their level best to make a stressful and potentially life-threatening situation even more dangerous and worrisome through their incompetent, negligent behaviour and inability to follow basic protocol," he said.
"They had ample opportunity to explain their reckless, negligent behaviour and confirm that they have taken measures to ensure that it does not occur again. They are apparently too lazy to respond to complaints. So here it is for the world to see. Fly Qantas at your peril."
The spokesman said because the couple were transferring to another international flight they were required to clear customs and immigration in Brisbane, which ground crew
facilitated as quickly as possible.
"We can understand that it must have been very worrying for Mr Hooper and we are
glad to hear that his wife has made a full recovery," he said.
"As the couple were unable to travel to their next destination that day, we transferred
them on to the same flight to depart the following day."
Twitter users were quick to defend Mr Hooper's complaint.
"That's pretty crap, Sam. We live in the age of communication. It's not hard. Radio ahead. Make sure the gate knows. Have medical assistance waiting and prioritise your wife's speedy disembarkation. It's basic stuff," wrote one person.