Sunday, 4 January 2015

An Open Leter to Pegasus Airlines

I am a regular passenger on Pegasus planes, clocking up over 20 flights last year alone. I'm pretty impressed with the whole set-up: online booking is simple using an app that has all my details; the flights generally take off and land when they say they will and the fares are very reasonable.  The number of routes on offer is increasing yearly and their hub airport in Istanbul, Sabiha Gökçen, is noticeably busier every time I fly, but doesn't seem to suffer the same hiccups as its European neighbour, Atatürk Airport. With only 50 minutes between landing and taking off on Thursday, despite the longest passport queue I have ever seen, I still made my connection to Stansted with 10 minutes to spare. My trip to the UK had got off to a good start and I was settled into a good book when I noticed a bit of a kerfuffle a couple of rows ahead,  Cabin staff looked uncomfortable and then there was the announcement that everyone dreads, "If there is a doctor on board will they make themselves known please". No hands go up, a second call goes out and still no response. The unconsious passenger is still unattended.  Staff confer and look at the punter causing their unease. I am going through my last first aid course in my head ( five years ago and so very rusty ) and am just about to suggest they get this poor chap horizontal when a lady who I later learn is called Claire and is a practising first-aider in Cyprus, tells the staff to get the patient on his back.  She then spends the next 3 hours on her knees in the aisle, administering oxygen and suggesting that the plane land at the nearest airport.  Another passenger cradles the sick guy's stockinged feet on his lap for the whole trip in a bid to keep the blood nearer his heart.  The pilot declines to land and orders an ambulance at Stansted. Clare, who is neither doctor nor nurse, is  given full responsibily for treating this prone passenger whose heart rate is alternating between 48 and 88 beats a minute and is drifting in and out of consciousness, while the crew continue to try and serve food over his head. At one point I thought he was going to get a hot cheese toastie in the face to add to his problems.  So my question to Pegasus Airlines is: Do you teach your staff first aid? If you do, they obviously are not confident enough to put it into practice. If you dont, please start.  It should have been the cabin crew looking after this chap, not a passenger.  I also shall get my first aid notes out of which ever cupboard they are languishing and give myself a refresher course.

25 comments:

  1. baited breath to know what happened to the passenger. Will we ever know?!

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    1. I don't think we will, Liz. But he was semi - conscious when he was taken off the plane by the ambulance service do I hope for the best.

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  2. Shocking. A very good letter. We can only hope the poor man has recovered thanks to his fellow passenger. Ax

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  3. That is inexcusable.

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  4. It doesn't inspire confidence does it? I was under the impression that competence in first aid was essential for cabin crew. I hope the chap was OK. It's made me think about a refresher course too. I did them regularly in the UK when I was in residential care, but like you am a bit rusty these days.

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    1. We used to get the Thames Valley ambulance service coming to Bodrum to give us first aid courses. I wish they still did

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  5. B to B, Having worked with the public closely for 20 years, reading your letter made my hair stand on end. I experienced quite a few such emergencies but luckily, it's easier to stop a train somewhere where an ambulance can tend to a patient than an airplane. So glad that Claire was there. I would also suggest that in today's work environment, it may be harder for employees to have the confidence to exercise the necessary leadership and do the right thing. Hopefully, your letter will make a difference and make air travel safer for all of us.

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  6. . . I remember when we first came to Turkey and arriving at the scene of a road accident, being told that under no circumstances should I give any first aid because I would be held responsible under law for anything that followed from it. Short of getting someone out of a burning vehicle everyone should wait for the ambulance crew. I have no idea if this is actually the legal situation, if it is, it could explain the inaction of the cabin staff. Pegasus being a budget airline the pilot would know that take off uses an inordinate amount of fuel and there are airport landing/take off fees to be factored in and the bosses and bean-counters at head office would not be amused - or am I just an old cynic!

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    1. One of the crew said it was too expensive to land mid way.

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  7. What a story! How absolutely awful - for the poor passenger and everyone else. Yes, what happened in the end? I hope Pegasus will heed your letter and take action.

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    1. So far, it's a story without an ending.

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  8. I find it very shocking that the crew would continue to serve meals over someone who had been taken seriously ill. I guess it's not always possible to land somewhere 'on the way' any faster than you can get to the original destination and, perhaps, the pilot was taking advice from experts on the ground (though without communicating with the First Aider I'm not sure what he or she could convey). I'd be very interested in learning about anything you get back from Pegasus on this. And it does further embed my preference for Atlas Jet!

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    1. Clare asked if she could be patched through to a medic on the ground to ask for instructions but this wasn't allowed either

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  9. Alan's right. There would have been a commercial imperative to get the plane to Stansted. The knock on effect for scheduling would have been costly and all airlines work to tiny margins these days. I've known a few trolley dollies in my time (no surprises there!) and first aid is an essential part of their training. I suspect, though, that all budget airlines cut corners. It’s the price we pay for cheap air travel. I hope the patient recovered. The first aider deserves a life-long pass. Doubt she’ll get one, though.

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    1. Maybe they should allow one medic a free flight every flight

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  10. I can't believe that none of the crew knew enough to help this poor man. The airline really must learn from this and do better next time.

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    1. I think Alan is right, they are not allowed to intervene

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  11. That really is shocking and so very sad.. I hope they get their act together and I hope they reply pronto; hope all survived..

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  12. It's a scary experience - and I think we all panic more or less when anything like this happens. Many of us have had one or several courses in First Aid, but it is different when it is really happening. In addition I have noticed that the "best First Aid Practice" was a bit changed every time I have had a course. I wish it would be possible to have the "best First Aid practice" in the last short edition accessible on flights. I have experienced a similar situation on the flight with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Oslo, a woman fainted in her seat, the temperature on the flight was very high and the crew could not manage to get it down. Luckily, there was a doctor there, the woman was moved forward where the temperature was lower and she woke up and got better.

    Have you sent this letter to Pegasus, I mean not just as a open letter? It's good you wrote it!

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  13. Thanks for commenting HaC. Our flight was also very hot. I have also noticed that each course I go on, the rules change. I sent this letter as a message on Pegasus Facebook page. I haven't received any reply. When I get back to my desk top computer in Turkwy , I will also send a hard copy to Pegasus headquarters.

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  14. OMG...how awful! I also remember how all our Turkish flights, no matter if it was Pegasus or Turkish Airlines, were ungodly hot. There's no need for that!

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