At 18 weeks pregnant with twins, to say I wasn’t a tad nervous to fly alone is like saying I’m a pillar of self-restraint. Clearly, with my belly and nausea and heartburn, neither are true. If it wasn’t for a very necessary trip to visit departing family, I would have stayed in rainy Seattle.
Your crew is always pleasant. I can’t say I have had a negative experience with your airlines before, aside from a few moments of delays or cancellations but hey, weather happens. In fact, having been born and raised in Alaska and being an avid Seahawks fan who appreciated your Russell-Wilson-Jersey-Priority-Boarding policy during the playoffs, you’re easily my airline of choice.
This flight, however. Well, this flight solidified that fact in a way I couldn’t have foreseen and hope never to experience again.
It was a quick flight to Southern California, approximately 2 1/2 hours long. I was sitting in a middle seat between a working soon-to-be grandmother and a sleeping woman I had to guess was in her mid-twenties. I was uncomfortable, as one would expect a pregnant woman at 30,000 feet to be. I had just finished two cups of water and a little snack pack before leaning my seat back and reluctantly attempting to close my eyes and fall asleep.
It didn’t take long for me to succumb to the fact that sleeping was out of the question.
I continued to fidget and alternate one leg crossing the other while attempting to find a position I could tolerate. Then I started to feel odd. At first I felt nauseas, but only for a moment. Then I felt heavy, as if someone was pressing down on my entire body. My vision started to tunnel inward, blurring towards the center as I strained to focus on the seat in front of me.
Then I woke up.
People were looking at me as the working grandmother next to me held my arm and told me I was going to be ok. I could only manage to ask what had happened. I was then told my eyes had rolled into the back of my head, I had passed out, then started shaking before I came to. A kind male flight attendant reassured me as he asked the passengers of flight 494 if there was a doctor or nurse on-board. As one of those perfectly circumstantial situations would have it, an OBGYN nurse was sitting a few rows back. The kind and reassuring grandmother gave up her seat so the nurse could sit next to me, standing for a good thirty minutes before heading back a few rows and away from her luggage. I regret my inability to thank her properly.
While the nurse asked me questions your crew was calm, attentive and disgustingly kind. Every apology I gave was quickly followed by a scoff, in which your flight attendants assured me it was ok and that this is why they have particular equipment on board, like oxygen and blood pressure cuffs and endless salty chips. Your flight attendants gladly took down phone numbers of family members to make them aware of the situation, so that someone would be at the hospital when I landed. They gave me smiles and handed me small jokes and were capable of making me laugh during an otherwise terrifying and embarrassing situation. I regret my inability to thank them properly.
When I started feeling cramps and was instructed to lay down on my left side, the once-sleeping-now-concerned twentysomething to my left offered up her lap. When I strained my head and neck as to not put added pressure on her legs she scolded me, assuring me she didn’t care and that I needed to relax. I regret my inability to thank her properly.
The OBGYN nurse was consistently steady in her care and her questions and her abilities. She made small talk when she could sense I was panicking and she explained why I needed oxygen as she helped put the awkward mask on my face. She praised my ability to stay calm instead of pointing out my inability to truly grasp the situation and possible consequences at hand. She asked about baby names and morning sickness and Alaska, where we had both lived. She texted my mother the details so she wouldn’t worry from hundreds of miles away. She was my advocate when my voice was shaking. I regret my inability to thank her properly.
And when the plane finally landed and it was time for the paramedics to come onboard and take me to the hospital, not a single passenger complained about having to remain in their seat. The flight attendant explained the situation over the intercom and no one groaned or whined or argued. I know what it is like, to try and catch a connecting flight on the other side of the airport. I’ve impatiently waited to deboard so I could hug my loved ones and smell clean air. Yet, while I loudly apologized to the strangers staring at me while the paramedics assisted me down the aisle, no one rolled their eyes or let out exaggerated sighs. In fact, they handed out kind smiles so every step forward wouldn’t feel more difficult than the last. I regret my inability to thank them properly.
None of your crew or the passengers they serviced will fully comprehend my gratitude because I’m horribly incapable of properly articulating it. When they jumped into action in a dignified and respectful way, calming a scared pregnant woman traveling alone, there was no way they could have known that in the hospital, later that day, that pregnant woman would learn that she had lost one of her babies, probably a week or two prior. And in the following moments, when everything seemed unfair, she would remember the kindness of complete strangers on a seemingly regular flight and be incredibly grateful.
So thank you Alaska Airlines. Thank you and the passengers who chose to fly with you that day. When all we hear about are horrible people doing horrible things, selfishly living their lives devoid of any positive human interaction, your flight, your crew, and your passengers proved differently. You’ve gained a loyal and grateful customer.
When I’m ready to fly again, of course.
Danielle Campoamor, and baby