Thursday, March 13, 2014

An Open Letter to the Passengers and Crew of Alaskan Airlines Flight 494

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. 

Sincerely, 


Danielle Campoamor, and baby

38 comments:

  1. You've brought tears to my eyes already somewhere in the middle. It's a beautiful letter. Sending a huge hug.
    Silvia

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  2. I am so sorry for your loss Danielle. Sending love and light as you process your grief, worry and joy of your upcoming birth.

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  3. Danielle, I am so very sorry, as always I am thinking of you.

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  4. Hi Danielle my name is Marty and am one of the flight attendants that was on your flight.
    I was directed to your blog by my wife who read your story on FB and thought it sounded like my flight. I am so very sorry to hear of your loss but am happy to know that you are doing well.
    Thank you for taking the time to write such a gracious letter in what I can only imagine is such a difficult time for you.
    Marty.

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    1. Marty,

      Thank you so much for reading it and I am sorry I wasn't able to thank you in person properly. Everything seemed to happen so fast. Just know that you and the rest of the crew made a huge impact then, and now.

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    2. I am so sorry for your loss, Danielle.

      I am touched by your letter after what you have been through.

      I am a regular Alaska Airlines passenger and I am happy (but not surprised) to hear that you were treated well by everyone. I have been on a flight on a different airline where a pregnant woman had a complication, and when that kind of thing happens it really helps you remember the true priorities in life.

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  5. I just read your story on news.com.au.
    I'm so sorry for your loss.
    Wishing you all the best for your future.

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  6. i am so very sorry to hear of your loss and i hope your remaining baby will be born safe and sound. i wish you your baby and family lifes best.

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    1. Thank you so much Lindsay! That means more than I can say.

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  7. when we go through the very worst of times...it is then that we are sent the most amazing people to help us get through...
    know you are loved...and know you will get through these worst of times..and know you will experience the best of times again one day...
    your gratitude is beautiful to read...thank you for your words...
    i'm glad those people were there for you...and i wish you well...
    with much love from...
    another mum-of-twins xo

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    1. Thank you for reading my words! I was very lucky to have some amazing people around me when I needed them the most, and I'm very lucky to have people like you who continue to be so thoughtful and supportive.

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    2. you're a great writer...been checking out your blog....some beautiful stuff...some cheeky stuff...like...xo

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    3. I've been known to have a few good days ;-)

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    4. yeah...and some days you just gotta breathe one breath at a time...xo

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  8. Hi Danielle, I am sitting in my office in Brisbane Australia reading your beautiful letter.
    Firstly, my heartfelt thoughts at your loss, as a father I know a little of what you must be feeling. I am very happy you are on the mend and looking forward to the deliver of your baby.
    May I say how very refreshing it is to hear that firstly a company can give service and assistance to customer unreservedly without a concern for it's own issues etc. and even more refreshing to see that someone has gone out of their way to acknowledge this assistance and thank those for that assistance.
    I wish you all the very best in the near future and for a wonderful life ahead with your baby.

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  9. Glen,

    Thank you so much for your kind words! People are really quick to think about the mom in situations like this, but it was very difficult for the Dad as well. Especially a Dad who is very protective and loving, so I know your well wishes are very appreciated not only by me, but by him.

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  10. Hi Danielle, first of all I am sorry to hear of your loss. Your story saddens me greatly and as an identical twin it hits close to home. My twin sister and I share a bond that not many people can or could understand and I am so sorry that you and your baby cannot share this bond. Please forgive me if I sound harsh as that is not my intention, I only wish to express my understanding for your loss. I hope you, your baby, and your family can live safe and happy lives and are able to cherish every moment you have with each other.

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  11. Stevie,

    No, no "please forgive me" necessary, and thank you so much for your kind words. You're completely right and so much of what made this loss difficult was mourning what might have been for our boys...I was so very much looking forward to seeing the bond the two of them would share and knowing they would always be there for one another.

    I'm so glad you get to experience that and am so thankful for your understanding.

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    1. I will keep your boy in my thoughts when I talk to my sister. xo

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  12. Greetings Danielle from another Australian-what a beautiful letter, albeit sad with the loss of your baby. What a wonderful mother you would have been to that baby, but will still be to your surviving baby! He is one lucky bubba! I wish you all the very best, as the mother of 3 wonderful kids it's the hardest thing you'll ever do ,but also the BEST! So great to hear too of the unselfish and caring attitude and help from the crew, I sometimes despair for people when you hear of how uncaring and impatient we can be. Take care , Debbie xxoo

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    1. Thank you so much Debbie! I was definitely unbelievably lucky to be surrounded by a caring crew and understanding passengers. Thank you so much for reading my story all the way from Australia!

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  13. p.s.meant to add the passengers too! OOps!

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  14. As a mom of a toddler and a newborn, I can only imagine how hard it would have been to learn about your loss. You are showing great strength and your bub is very lucky to have you as his/her mom :) As we say in Australia, good on you! I wish you all the best for a bright and happy future :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I definitely cannot wait until I meet my bub ;-)

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  15. Danielle, I was on that flight with you that morning, I was seated about four or five rows back, I have thought of you often since the flight and hoped that your were well. I am so very sorry for your loss. From the passenger perspective, I was blown away by your composure, you were so calm and thoughtful, and seemed a little bit taken aback by all of the care you were receiving. What an amazing young woman you are. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Sending you my thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Wow, this comment made me cry. Thank you so much for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. I was only able to stay calm and thoughtful because of the people around me, and that includes you. I was very lucky that day and continue to be very lucky, as the love and support has been overwhelming. So thank you!

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  16. As I read the heading to this story I thought back to a flight I was on from Sea to San as I was heading to Orlando to visit my grand babies. I sat in tears as I read on, realizing that I was on that flight sitting just a few rows behind you. Danielle I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I am however very thankful that you and baby are well. I can't imagine how scarey that was for you that day. You are a very brave and strong young woman. I agree that the crew on this flight were amazing. I remember feeling so thankful that day when the crew made the request for a doctor or nurse seeing 3 people come to see if they could help. It always amazes me how people (probably on vacation) in the medical profession will help without hesitation and to be handed a OBGYN nurse at 30,000 feet is divine intervention. How lucky we all are to have these angels in the sky with us. I want to thank you for writing and sharing your story. Good luck to you and your family! Donna

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  18. my spouse was on this flight that day, heading back up to the north slope for work.. I remember him texting me about an emergency on the plane... we were concerned about what happened, as he was not sure.. he was a few rows back from you and only knew there had been a seizure. He and I are both very glad to hear that you are okay.. and very sorry about the loss of one of your twin babies. We can empathize with your unfortunate loss. best wishes to you, your family, and your baby.

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    1. Hannah, thank you so much! And please thank your husband again for me. Everyone on the plane was very thoughtful and understanding, and I am sure he was anxiously waiting to get off the plane.

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  19. Danielle,
    I was also on this flight as one of the adult leaders for a church youth group mission trip to Mexico. As soon as they announced the need for medical staff, we started praying for you (though we couldn't see who needed help from where we were in the back) and our sister Kathy who immediately went to be your "flight nurse". We kept praying for you as we continued on our trip, and wept together over the loss of your precious baby. I do not understand why such sad things happen, but I do know that God loves you and your sons, and that it was not luck or chance that put Kathy on your flight. She had prayed to be used on that trip to bless others, and He answered by giving her time with you. I will pass this on to her--I'm sure she'd like to see you smiling and to read your words of thanks. Many blessings!

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    1. Renee,

      Goodness, I don't even know where to begin. I know that if it wasn't for your group and Kathy specifically, things would have been different on that flight that day. She was absolutely wonderful, keeping me calm and talking with family members. She was also kind enough to take my number and check up on me afterwards...a gesture that took me back then and still does now. You are all so blessed to have her in your church group as a leader and a friend, and I know I was very blessed to have her by my side that day.

      Please thank her again for me, as I really cannot say thank you enough. And thank you and your church group for continuing to pray for myself and my family. We are very blessed.

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  20. Could this be Dani ? From Gruening Middle School in Eagle River, Alaska? This is Mrs. Miller, I was your teacher and if this is the same Dani C. then I remember you so well and my heart and my prayers go out to you. Your story is wonderfully written and even if you aren't the same Dani, I'm so very proud of you! You are a beautiful young women, mother and your family should indeed be proud of you! God's greatest blessings are in the form of children, you will indeed be blessed, and I pray for your continued health and happiness!

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    1. It is! Oh wow, what a blast from the past! Thank you so much for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. They mean more than you know.

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  21. Danielle, I usually don't read blogs and when I do, I never comment but this was an exception. First off I am SO so sorry for your loss. As a frequent flyer especially on Alaska, I usually worry about missed connections, late flights, etc. Your story moved me beyond comprehension and put into perspective how minor most of our fights and connections are when a true emergency happens. I am so glad that Alaska took care of you, as I feel they are the best domestic airline out there. I am also glad that besides Alaska's great crew on that flight, the passengers and crew continued to pray and look after you. You have NOTHING to apologize for on that flight. God does work in mysterious ways as Renee above stated, and this just proves it true. Once again, I am glad you are okay, Your baby is lucky to have a warm and wonderful mother such as yourself. Take care and God bless.

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