red eye
While Australia might be the trip of a lifetime, the fourteen-plus hour flight from the west coast of the U.S. to Sydney might be one of the most dreaded in aviation. Even in business class, and especially in economy.

One of my co-worker’s clients actually had an upgraded business class seat booked directly with United, but he nonetheless decided to take a sleeping pill to help him make it through the flight.

So he took the pill just before he took a taxi to the airport, figuring he could fall asleep soon after take-off, get a full night’s sleep, and wake up refreshed for the day upon arrival. The best laid plans…

The pill worked. Too well. And he fell sound asleep in the boarding area. Apparently a United gate agent saw him asleep and woke him up just before final boarding. But he was so sound asleep that he stumbled and fell upon being awakened, and was very groggy and disoriented.

So he would have just barely made the plane, but the United gate staff decided he did not look healthy, and certainly not in good enough shape to board. Which makes a certain amount of sense. It’s not just worries about things like swine flu, but no airline wants to fly with a passenger who looks to be a potential health emergency. Especially on a long international flight.

In this case, the end result could have been worse. United was able to remove his luggage from the plane, and they rebooked him on the same flight the following day. He wasn’t meeting a cruise or an organized tour, so all he lost was a prepaid hotel night. So on the whole meant he got off relatively easily.

But had he missed a boat, for example, it could have been a complete nightmare. In general, if you are taking any medication, it’s best to see how you react to it BEFORE you travel. And it’s best to take a sleeping pill when you are safely in your airplane seat.

photo by John and Keturah on Flickr