Dear Person Who Had To Get Off the Plane: it's entirely possible you fell gravely ill between boarding and pushback. If food poisoning hit me just as we were gathering speed to take off, I too would dread the next hour and 46 minutes bouncing around at 30,000 feet. On the other hand, the imperatives of food poisoning make any location miserable, and at least here you'd have flight attendants to bring you broth when the worst had passed.

Whatever you had, you certainly left the plane with the step of someone hale and hearty. But you could have just been eager to get off before manifesting proof of illness in some form, and if that was the case, thank you.

However. If there was another reason - if you did not strike the flight attendant as green around the gills and woozy, or sweating and clammy, but simply just said "I'm not feeling well. I have to get off," then a few words of advice should the idea ever strike you as something to try again. You came from the back of the plane - which might mean a last-minute ticket purchase, I don't know - and you passed row after row of people. Each one of them had a plan for the rest of the day. Most of those plans involved someone else. The number of people inconvenienced because we're going back to the gate is quite remarkable. Because it's not as if we pull up and you hop off and we all get back in line to take off.


As the pilot explained, these times require caution, particularly since our destination was Washington DC. Any time someone just bolts from the plane at the last minute, they have to assume the possibility of a nefarious reason. I.e., you left a bomb. Or you got off because the bomb is in your checked luggage. This may seem like an overreaction, but everyone on the plane was relieved when the pilot said we'd be getting off.

Bomb-sniffing dogs came by; TSA crawled all over the plane, and finally let us go hours after we were supposed to leave. I overheard the gate agent say the sick person had booked on the 3PM flight to DC, so apparently the illness passed. Swiftly.

That didn't make the news.

Makes you wonder what else doesn't make the news, doesn't it.

PS: "That person," said my Uber driver when I told him the story en route to my hotel, "will never fly again without being checked. Every. Time."