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Airline experience: 'A tragedy on board'

Last updated on: December 11, 2009 18:25 IST

We recently discussed airline bloopers and invited readers to share their air travel stories with us. Here, reader Subhamoy Ghosh shares a tragic experience.

I was travelling from London to Kolkata on September 2008 and the flight was already delayed due to adverse weather conditions. At the dutyfree shop I met a doctor from Kolkata, who had come to London to attend a seminar. The aircraft was almost empty and I remember I was sitting on a seat at the front to get more leg space. I noticed one elder couple sitting just behind me and the husband looked like he was uncomfortable, perspiring even with the air conditioning running. It was his wife who was doing all the talking and from her we came to know that they were on a surprise visit to India to meet their younger son. Both of them had British passports and it had been a long time since they visited India .

While we all went to sleep, I realised someone was moving continuously around the aisle and the person even hit me few times. Suddenly we heard a loud sound and woke up to see the husband who had been sitting (or moving) behind me was lying on the ground, with his eyes wide open. He was only a few inches away from me. People from all around rushed to him, only to realise he was not breathing. I saw the doctor come up and inspect him. We were all tense and so was the crew. The doctor called for a few injections, which the crew did not have. He then started pumping the man's chest and was screaming for the injection; by that time we realised that he had suffered a heart attack. It was so baffling to see that the airline -- an Indian carrier -- did not have the necessary drugs at their disposal.

We had just entered Indian Territory and suddenly the pilot announced that due to an emergency we were landing in Delhi. The doctor told me that he knew the man was dead when he first checked him, but he still wanted to try and revive him. At Delhi Airport, another doctor and an ambulance rushed to the aircraft, checked the patient, talked to my doctor friend and then rushed to the hospital. Someone arranged to call the son of the couple to give him the bad news.

The next day, while going through the newspaper I discovered that 'a person travelling from London to Kolkata died on the way to hospital...'. That summed up the story. Those of us who were travelling with him knew that he had died on the spot and that there was no medication on hand to save him. But then, it happens only in India.