When you are on terra firma and suffer a medical emergency, it can be relatively straightforward to receive the necessary care and treatment that you require.
Normally, a simple phone call to the emergency services will suffice and within minutes, you will have a group of paramedics at your disposal. If needs be, you could be whisked away to the nearest hospital.
However, what happens when you are thousands of feet up in the air and take a turn for the worse?
That is what happened recently on an easyJet flight between London’s Gatwick airport and Thessaloniki in Greece.
Flight EZY5091 took off on time, yet about thirty minutes into the trip an elderly woman took a turn for the worse.
Luckily, Dr Southall, a retired GP, was sat in the front row. He helped manage the situation, enabling the flight to continue as normal to Greece – saving easyJet thousands of pounds in diversion fees.
There, after showing signs of improvement, she was met by her family.
So what did Dr Southall receive for his good deed?
easyJet’s airline staff offered him a free cup of coffee but forced him to pay for an accompanying chocolate bar.
Speaking to the British newspaper The Independent, Dr Southall recounted the tale:
“The senior cabin crew members stood right next to me when [they] phoned through to the flight deck and said ‘A woman is seriously ill and we may have to consider diverting.’
“A moment later a call came over the PA asking if a doctor or nurse was on board and I responded immediately.
“She was very pale and sweating and appeared breathless and distressed. With the aid of the emergency kit, I was able to listen to her chest, take her blood pressure and pulse and generally assess her condition.
“I explained to the crew that I felt it was possible to monitor her for a while and continue to Greece without diverting.”
If he had not had come forward to help, the pilot may have been forced to divert the plane to a nearby airport in order to allow the woman to receive medical attention. It is unclear how much this may have cost easyJet, but it would likely be in the thousands (or even tens-of-thousands) of dollars.
So for his good deed – not mention saving easyJet a substantial bill – he was rewarded with a free cup of coffee.
Was he short-changed?