Mechanical glitch and medical problem force plane back to airport -- twice : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Mechanical glitch and medical problem force plane back to airport -- twice

Source: Associated Press

Publication date: Mar 11, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A mechanical glitch followed by a medical emergency forced a United Airlines flight back to Los Angeles -- twice -- before it finally arrived in Hawaii.

The flight departed Los Angeles International Airport for the third time at 9:52 p.m. Friday and arrived in Maui around 1 a.m. Saturday, "about 13 hours late," said an airline reservation desk employee who declined to be named.

Flight 45, carrying 254 passengers, had departed LAX at 8:10 a.m. and was more than two hours into the flight when a pressurization problem forced it to turn around, passengers told the Los Angeles Times.

A second Boeing 767 was located and the passengers took off again, but that plane was forced to return two hours later, at around 5:30 p.m.

Passengers were just getting settled on the second flight when they heard the announcement that the captain was turning back because of a medical emergency, said Tatiana Regalado, a frustrated traveler from Simi Valley.

"People were shocked, you could hear them catch their breath. They kind of looked at each other, like, `Is this really happening?' Then, people started to get angry," she said.

The emergency, Regalado said, turned out to be a first-class passenger with a swelling finger that was being cut by her ring.

Airline spokeswoman Susana Leyva confirmed the flight's two false starts on Friday, but said she could not specify what mechanical and medical problems forced the returns.

Publication date: Mar 11, 2000 ) 2000, NewsReal, Inc.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 12, 2000


"Then, people started to get angry," she said.

Because they had to turn back because of passenger with a medical problem? I hope Tatiana and the other angry passengers aren't on any flight I happen to get sick on.

-- Jim Cooke (, March 12, 2000.

I would agree, Jim, that folks shouldn't get angry for a medical emergency. However, it very well could be that some of those folks got angry because the medical "emergency" was someone's swollen finger. Of course we won't know how this "emergency" came to be known, but could it be that the person was loudly complaining "My finger is swollen. My ring is cutting into it. Turn the plane around!"

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 12, 2000.


I'm sure the good doctor could give a better summary of this but my limited training as an EMT tells me that one finger doesn't swell by itself - it's usually the result of some sort of allergic reaction that's causing generalized swelling. In addition to the problem of having the blood flow cut off to the ring finger and possible gangrene there's also the possibility of a more serious problem like anaphalactic shock that can cause death in a short period of time. Pilots don't turn a plane around simply on a whim from some first class passenger. His only other choice was to continue on to Hawaii and hope the passenger still had her finger and wasn't dead.

-- Jim Cooke (, March 13, 2000.

Someone on another board explained it this way:

"Re: Medical emergencies china_k 3/12/00 6:50 pm

Ever been on a long flight and your feet swelled up? It's very common. Don't take your shoes off on an airplane because you might not get them back on. Hands swell, too, but not usually as much because they get more exercise. The movement in the hands usually keeps fluids from gathering in the fingers. But not always. There are many causes of swollen extremities: medications, pregnancy, heart or kidney disease, salty foods, blood clots, and lots more.

When an extremity swells up, it can do so very quickly, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Imagine a passenger who is suffering from heart disease and taking high blood-pressure medication, has been sitting around eating peanuts and drinking Coke for the last 6 hours waiting to get underway again. As the second flight reaches altitude, everything catches up with her and her hands start to swell violently. If she does not get that ring off in the first few minutes of swelling, it will quickly become impossible to do so. But the swelling continues until her hands are twice normal size. The ring cuts the skin painfully. After a half hour, blood circulation of the finger will be completely stopped, stopping oxygen from reaching the tissues. If the circulation is not restored soon, the tissue may start to die and the finger may have to be amputated.

How long is a flight from LA to Hawaii? About eight hours? She might have lost the finger if she had to wait that long to get medical treatment. It's possible.

I would have tried wrapping a rubber band tightly around and around, from the fingertip all the way up to the ring, then soaping it up (actually, Windex is better than soap but not as likely available on board). Theoretically, the ring should pass easily over the rubber band."


Makes one a bit more sympathetic. Again the reporter's brevity has led some to the wrong conclusion.

-- viewer (, March 13, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ