Medical Flight Diversions

Last year while returning to Hawaii, I witnessed close at hand an on-board medical emergency, 1,200 miles from the nearest landfall. Two similar events have recently happened without much press. For those of you interested in aviation incidents, I thought I’d mention them to you.

Continental 602.  Sometimes the flight crew has no choice but to divert for medical reasons. Such was the case this week when the Continental flight from Newark to LA ended up landing at small Sour Corners Airport in Farmington New Mexico.

The plane made an emergency landing when a passenger suffered a heart attack.  While the plane landed on the 6,500-foot runway without problem, the same wasn’t true for getting back in the air.  The short runway (normal is 8,000 feet to 10,000 feet), high altitude and the plane’s weight made the takeoff inadvisable.  Therefore, passengers and luggage were separated, with the plane’s passengers continuing to Los Angeles after a three hour delay.  I haven’t heard about how they met up with their luggage.

Qantas 94.  Last month, a Qantas Airbus 380 behemoth had to divert to Honolulu due to an ill passenger.  The flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne was about 600 miles from Hawaii at the time of the medical emergency.  Originally reported as a coronary problem, later indications were that the stop was due to a suspected ectopic pregnancy.


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6 thoughts on “Medical Flight Diversions”

  1. Great Site..Thank you!
    A friend of mine sent me the link to your site and I am instantly hooked! Going to Kauai the end of July for a week and trying to swing a couple extra days on another island as well. I know I am traveling at peak season, but any thoughts on if fares from Tucson/Phoenix might drop from the high 700’s? Not sure on how much longer to hold out before booking.
    Thanks for any imput.


    1. Hi Melissa.

      Thanks for the nice comment.

      Mid $700’s. Ouch. I doesn’t appear likely to go lower, but it may not go much higher either. I think I might wait. Perhaps until early June, but don’t blame me if that doesn’t work out. Just my thoughts.



  2. Thank goodness things turn out well most of the time – otherwise we would hear of the tragedy on the news. Diversions such as these are unfortunate – but, what if it were someone we loved who needed medical attention? Life has bumps. Life happens.

  3. While some think that a flight attendant’s job is to serve you food, I know that they spend 99 percent of their recurrent training on safety. (Like getting everyone out of an aircraft in 90 seconds.) I’ll bet that is why medical emergencies don’t show up in the news… because they end successfully and are just a part of a flight attendant’s day.

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