Business Scene South Korea

Emergency In Flight

Emergency On Korean Air

LAX Airport

As my sister drove me to the airport I felt a sense of nostalgia.  Her love for travel and foreign films is what started me on this journey.  I don’t think this was her intention when she told me to watch a cute tv drama on Hulu called Coffee Prince.  She helped unload my bags from her new Toyota Prius.

I was mad that she wasn’t in turmoil over my leaving and was more worried about me scratching her car.  I wanted her to care more about what I was doing.  I wanted her to say more than what she was saying.  I wanted to hear her say that I should stay.  The words never came as she pulled up to the curbside.

A red-eye flight had its advantages and disadvantages.  It felt like we pulled up to the curb all too fast without the Los Angeles traffic.  I got out of the car grabbing all of my belongings, feeling like I was a runaway teenager rebelling against the strict rules set forth by conservative parents.

When I was packing I didn’t realize how much I would have to carry these two fifty-pound suitcases.  Actually, I did mention this to my sister at one point in my preparation.  I wanted to buy smaller suitcases, but my sister went on and on about how it was only one time I would have to carry them to my dorm room, then it would be over.  If only I knew then that it would be a total of four times that I had to carry those suitcases I would have listened to my first instinct.

Trying to find Korean Air with two big suitcases, a backpack and my first heavy Winter coat was something that I hated instantly.  But, for now, I tried to repeat positive inner dialogue that it was only this one time.

Korean Air

The waiting line was long and boring.  However, it was my first real experience of literally being the only African-American in a line with over a hundred people.  I realized this was probably my new reality.  After making my way through airport security I found my way to an airport souvenirs store.

I found a present for my cousins’ friend who agreed to meet me at Seoul Station once I arrived in South Korea.  I purchased a burgundy hoodie with gold lettering that had Los Angeles embroidered across the chest as a thank you gift.  As I waited to board the plane, I sent a text to my sister providing an airport update.  Next, I downloaded an iPhone application so that I could make international calls once I arrived in Seoul.

Nonstop Flight To Seoul, South Korea

The first thirty minutes of the plane ride I was okay.  I don’t know if it was because of the nervous energy or because I received two shots earlier in the day, but after the stewardess served juice, I started to vomit.  

I was that passenger.  The one that you heard over the loudspeaker who needed a doctor.  I was the one that all of the crew, passengers, and pilot hoped nothing was seriously wrong because nobody wanted their flight to be delayed or rerouted.  

Laying on the ground, not in control of my bodily functions, my heart racing a mile a minute and the feeling of not being able to catch my breath was my fear.  I was having a panic attack.  No, this was not a drill.  The stewardess quickly rushed me out-of-the-way and into the first class cabin at the top of the plane.  

Out of sight, out of the passenger’s mind.  My first time sitting in first class and I couldn’t enjoy it, instead, I was wondering what was happening to my body.  Blissfully, happily, I went to sleep lying in a pod that costs thousands of dollars.


With eight hours left of the fourteen-hour plane ride, I decided I needed to go to the bathroom.  I stood in front of the bathroom stall and fainted.   I don’t know how scared they must have been.  I do know that once I regained consciousness, the doctor was once again hovering over me.  She asked if I fainted?  I was embarrassed and mortified.  

I don’t know what happened in those minutes I was asleep.  I watched as a stewardess pricked her finger.  They try to accurately gauge the testing trip that will tell them if my sickness is being caused by high blood pressure.  The doctor watches what they’re doing while monitoring my vital signs.  I’m dry heaving until my stomach hurts.  

After two finger pricks, the doctor held onto my hand, she looked at me with concern and a serious doctor expression.  I lied and said that I didn’t faint, too scared what it meant if I actually told her the truth.  There were definitely a couple of minutes I don’t remember.  I convinced everyone that I’m okay and go back to my little pod.  I went to sleep again and prayed the next time I woke up I would be closer to Seoul, South Korea.

With two hours left on the fourteen-hour flight, I finally began to get my bearings.  I took deep breaths to calm down.  I focused on the ticking of the time on the miniature TV screen inside the seat headrest like it’s my lifeline.  

The plane landed safely and slowly made its way to the airport gate.  The fasten seatbelt sign faded and we were allowed to leave our seats.  Retrieving my backpack from the overhead compartment, I waited in line to get off the plane with the rest of the passengers.

Do you have a memorable plane experience that you want to share?  I would love to read your story in comments below.

If you want to continue reading about my life in Seoul, South Korea check out the next posts:

  1. South Korea Customs Experience
  2. Christmas Alone Abroad
  3. 2nd Korean Language Class
  4. New Year’s in Seoul, South Korea

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