(Note: I’m traveling this week and next so posts may be sparser than normal)
Flying the Emirates A380 in First Class was one of my bucket list items. A colleague and friend of mine jokes that all I do is chase metal (airplanes), but this Emirates A380 flight was different, for two reasons. The first I knew before. It had a Shower Spa, allowing First Class passengers to shower at 40,000 feet. The second reason I wouldn’t learn until I was onboard the aircraft and more than halfway to Dubai.
The Second Reason
About 5 hours out of Dubai, I started to feel bad. I won’t go into the details, but I was feeling tightness of throat, and some other symptoms. First I went to the shower spa, which doubles as a bathroom for the first class cabin. Then I decided maybe I should head to the lounge in the stern of the upper deck. A sprite later, I returned to my seat and woke my wife (who’s especially patient with me). At this point, my symptoms were worsening and increasing. We both started to get concerned and one of the crew noticed and brought some cold towels. A few minutes later, another member of the crew offered have us sit in the shower spa to see if that helped. It was out of the main view of the other passengers, and my condition felt like it was deteriorating, so I took them up on the option.
Within a few minutes, that shower spa which has a sign for maximum occupancy of 2 passengers had 5 individuals in it. My wife, myself, and three crew members who were absolutely amazing. Within minutes they had a medical device out to gauge my blood pressure and pulse. I was overheating at this point, and my wife aptly commented that I was looking flush. I happened to look into the mirror after a few minutes on oxygen and I mentioned that my face was on purplish side – the comment was meant to relax the situation a bit, I’m not sure if it hit the mark.
The crew were able to communicate with medical professionals on the ground which gauged this as a likely allergic reaction. I think we all came to that conclusion between tightness of throat, difficulty breathing and a developing rash on my arm. After a few minutes of oxygen and more tightness in my throat, the crew asked if there was a medical professional onboard. Luckily there was. A few minutes later she administered an “Epi-Pen” (my first experience with that, as well as everything else that had transpired). Another 20 minutes between the oxygen and the effects of the Epi-Pen and I was starting to feel better. Even as I write this, my hands are shaking. I’m not sure if it is because of the experience, or because of the epinephrine, but I’ll accept either reason.
Back to my reason for wanting to take this flight in the first place
I did still get the chance to take a shower at 40,000 feet. Still shaky in the shower, it was an experience I hadn’t really expected. Refreshing, but really, what I will remember most of my experience in the shower spa is humbling. That said – shower at 40,000 foot experience if taken separate from everything else that happened, was really quite well done – not cramped like you might expect (and have experienced on boats).
First and foremost, I have to express (and will in a separate letter to Emirates) for some members of the crew that were there and on the top of their game. Danielle, Thomas, Robert, Millicent, and Catherine really could not have been better in this situation.
I cannot gauge how bad I was. I know I was concerned, I know everyone else in the shower spa was concerned, but I suppose we wouldn’t have been there if we weren’t. I’ve flown over half a million miles in the last 5 or so years (I’ve never actually calculated it), I’ve been onboard when the crew calls for a doctor. I’ve never been the one that the crew was calling because, until now. But I couldn’t be more grateful for the team that jumped into action to help, including the doctor that happened to be on the flight. I think that we often forget that airline crews undergo significant training for these and many other scenarios. They are not just onboard to serve us a meal and beverages. These are skilled professionals that when necessary can and do jump into action.