Huh? What happened?
January 26, 2009 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Do airlines keep records of passengers who, for example, pass-out mid-flight? If so, does it affect future travel?

So, the background story, sorry it got a little long...A month ago I took a domestic 5 1/2 hr flight.

Since I dislike flying and especially awareness of the sickness bag, I tend not to eat, take ginger gravol, get anti-anxiety meds (which shouldn't be combined with alcohol, it amplifies the effects), and limit myself to a (yes, alcohol) liquid diet for good measure. Rough on the system, but gets me through them. This was an overnight flight and part of a move, so combine the above with exhaustion.

I was fine in the terminal and gate. Plane was slightly delayed so I had a glass of wine at a past-security pub to help kill the time and keep my nerves under control.

Got to my seat in cattle class, middle seat, yay for cheap rates. Took off, drink cart came around, had another glass of wine. No problem. Dinner cart came around a bit later, I poured another glass of wine, but declined the 'meal' figuring to pick something up at the destination airport. 3 glasses of wine doesn't pose a problem for me.

Next thing I know, there's a vague memory of some commotion and someone saying they think there's doctors and/or paramedics on-board. Next thing I know I wake up in front-row business class with some guy beside me keeping on eye on me. At that point I was obviously confused, asked the guy how long until landing, 3hours. Next thing I knew was the plane had landed.

I started to get-up and find my carry-on bags, but was told to wait until a wheelchair was brought to take me to paramedics in the terminal. They asked a few questions about what I had taken then let me go, under escort by an officer to await the shuttle bus to the hotel. The fresh air cleared my head somewhat, while I went to sleep it off.

I think the most obvious cause is an overdose of the anti-anxiety meds (maybe different dosage than usual) and the wine. Combined with exhaustion.

So, the core of the question, I imagine the event would be noted somewhere. If I booked another ticket with this airline or another, would it show-up and make things more difficult booking or flight staff attention? Some sort of blacklist of passengers.

Secondly, if such a list exists could I get access to it given the date and flight number. I'd like to know more about what happened.
posted by hungrysquirrels to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
I don't know about the airline information, but you can contact the airport paramedics and get a copy of the run sheet. It's the record of their interaction with you and may contain details about what flight personnel told them when they got there.
posted by _Mona_ at 8:32 AM on January 26, 2009

A good friend's father had a diabetic seizure on a flight to visit her. When she dropped him off for his return flight on the same carrier, they were waiting for him specifically because of the seizure. So the airline was certainly aware of his history in that case, although I don't know if it would translate to flights beyond the round trip he had scheduled.

Also, do I correctly understand that you had anti-anxiety meds and three glasses of wine on an empty stomach? And you're thinking exhaustion had anything to do with passing out? Do yourself a favor and talk to you doctor about this. Those drugs plus alcohol (quite obviously!) don't mix, and you could potentially have a worse reaction next time.
posted by robinpME at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

I think how the airline treats you in future rather depends what you did during the 3-4 hours you do not remember. And as Mona says, you can get a run sheet for that info.
posted by rokusan at 8:52 AM on January 26, 2009

he LA Times and some guy named Christopher Elliott both discuss so-called "passenger blacklists."

Both articles focus on violence and disruptive behavior. While passing out could, I suppose, be considered disruptive, it doesn't sound like you were combative or anything.

As suggested by others, you can probably obtain records from the medics at the receiving airport. I doubt that there would be a formal medical record from aboard the plane, as the "helpers" were not acting in an official capacity. The incident was probably logged in the flight record, but it might be opening a can of worms to request it.

Given the high levels of anxiety related to flying, the abundance of medication for said condition, and the continued insistence of combining those medications with alcohol, I would hazard to guess that you were not the first and certainly will not be the last. The same thing happened to Winona Ryder!

Oh, and combining prescription drugs and alcohol can kill you. So, don't.
posted by charmcityblues at 10:21 AM on January 26, 2009

I fainted on a plane once, a few years ago. I had a few drinks and no dinner pre-flight, and took a nap after takeoff. I woke up all of a sudden feeling that something was a bit off with me, so I decided to go to the restroom to splash some water on my face. I made it a few steps and then passed out mid-stride, and hit my head on the headrest of an aisle seat.

I was only out for a few minutes instead of a few hours, but they did find a doctor onboard to look after me. The best part was that I got a free sandwich after I woke up, instead of having to pay $5 like all of the other chumps on board.

I never checked to see if anything was formally logged about the incident, but I've never had any problem flying on that airline, or other airline since.
posted by adamk at 12:25 PM on January 26, 2009

I know anti-anxiety pills shouldn't be mixed with alcohol. But under certain circumstances such as flying, neither on it's own has been enough, I agree it's stupid though. All this has done in the past is mellow me out for a few hours to get through the flight or whatever without panicking. I suspect previously I may have been prescribed smaller dosages when I've asked for something to help. If I do this again, I'll definitely be more careful and inform the doctor better that the combination may occur.

Thanks for advice and info so far, especially the run sheet tip.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 12:38 PM on January 26, 2009

The airline that employs me does keep track of these things. We don't use it for anything, other than keeping lawyers happy and/or at bay. I don't even have access to this information directly, and I have access to more data than my superiors due to some extra duties I've taken on over time.

This may not be the case for larger airlines, but I've never heard of it being an issue.
posted by Rendus at 12:46 PM on January 26, 2009

I've fainted twice on planes, once in the early 80s, and again a few years ago. I've flown many times after each case, and never had a problem. Both my episodes were similar to adamk's, fainted in the aisle. The most recent time, I was holding my dinner tray and apparently flung bean salad on all the other passengers as I went down. That's not really the kind of thing I wanted on my personal record.
posted by nprigoda at 1:07 PM on January 26, 2009

I'll definitely be more careful and inform the doctor better that the combination [with alcohol] may occur.

Okay, look. I think you misunderstand the whole doctor-patient relationship here. Don't "inform" your doctor that drinking of alcohol "may occur."

Ask the doctor if you should drink alcohol while on those pills. And when he says "no", for chrissake listen to him!
posted by rokusan at 8:55 PM on January 30, 2009

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