The Traveling Steve's

Flying to Seattle and taking the Amtrak Empire Builder Train Back!

Steve (DOS) and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport on Monday night, in anticipation of our flight to Seattle on Tuesday. While we used to only stay at the Hyatt Airport when we had an early flight, as time goes by we realize it’s so much more relaxing to stay there the day before a trip, and start the vacation a bit earlier. We Uber’d to the airport, and checked into the on-premise airport hotel around 4pm.

We got a deluxe King room with balcony, overlooking the runway, which is our favorite room type at this hotel as we love watching the planes landing and taking off!

We had dinner at the hotel’s casual restaurant McCoy’s, and I enjoyed the trio platter of quesadillas and tacos, while DOS had a vegetable pizza.

The next day our flight wasn’t until 12:20pm, so we slept in a bit and had breakfast, again at McCoy’s before heading to our United flight at gate 46 in the B Terminal.

We had two flights actually; the first flight was from Orlando (MCO) to Chicago (ORD), and connecting to Seattle (SEA) later that evening. We boarded the first flight to to Chicago and departed on time, however the Captain relayed some bad news about weather delays in the northern part of Florida which would delay us from taking off, and he was trying to get us rerouted as a result. We eventually did get rerouted, however we were delayed for an hour and 45 minutes, which was slightly longer than our scheduled connection in ORD. I must say the Captain and entire United inflight crew were excellent in keeping everyone informed and let us use our phones, the Flight Attendants served water or juice, allowed passengers to get out of their seats for restroom breaks etc during the lengthy delay.

Once airborne DOS and I had our pre-selected meal; I had a cheeseburger, while he had the barbecue chicken. We were seated in the last row of First Class (row 5 D and F) and it had a decent recline even with the bulkhead behind us on the Boeing 737-900 aircraft.

We followed the progress of our flight on United’s app, as we were concerned we wouldn’t make our connection, especially since United had changed our connecting gate from the B terminal we were arriving in, to the C departure gate terminal, which was quite distant and reached via an underground tunnel with fancy neon lights flashing on the ceiling. I was so rushed to make the flight as it was already departure time, so I didn’t stop to take photos, although the following 4 pics were from a previous work trip I had taken with this same layover, from Terminal B to C, via the underground tunnel with fancy lights.

DOS went ahead of me with our carry-on bags, as I can’t walk as fast since my heart surgery from last year, and I eventually made it to the C gate a bit out of breath, just as the plane was ready to leave.

I arrived at the gate out of breath, but fortunately the United gate agent was very nice, and DOS was standing there with him as we boarded the plane to Seattle; with the two of us being the last passengers to board.

We took our seats 4A and 4C in First, and the four hour flight from ORD to SEA left on time. As this was a dinner flight, we were again served a meal (same options as the previous lunch menu), and I had again pre-selected the cheeseburger, while DOS had the barbecue chicken as well.

I had a couple United size (i.e, small glass, slightly larger than a shot glass, perhaps held 3 ounces) glasses of red vino, and watched some of my favorite scenes from “The Greatest Showman” on my iPad. I love that movie, the story, the music, the choreography, etc; it’s one of the few musicals released in the last decade or more that’s truly a great and wholesome quality movie that was meticulously made and casted.

Well then, here’s where things took a turn for the worst. About 2 and 1/2 hours into the flight, I get up to use the lavatory, and I didn’t quite make it there. I made it as far as row 1 (from row 4) and started getting really dizzy and lightheaded. I get that feeling occasionally at home, but usually just when standing up after a long time, or getting out of a car (I still don’t drive out of caution, DOS does all the driving). The dizzy feeling is only momentary and I just stop for a few seconds, hold onto the car, wall, etc. and I’m fine. Well this time at row 1, I literally passed out and fell on this poor gentleman seated in row 1A! I was much dizzier than normal, and could tell something wasn’t right, but before I could hold onto something I fainted, and collapsed on the man’s arm rest and up against him as well. I quickly came too, but we were both quite startled, and I was embarrassed as well. The Lead Flight Attendant saw this happen, and called for a Medical Professional on board for assistance. I’ve been flying regularly for work (some years weekly) since 1986, until I retired in 2019 and I’ve never had anything like this happen before. I don’t fly very much now since my heart surgery last year, and looking back I did fly home from Seattle a year ago with an oxygen concentrator for the flight back. I haven’t had a need for it since then however, and we flew roundtrip to Vancouver for our Alaska cruise just a couple weeks ago.

First flight home after surgery Nov 2022, Seattle to Orlando (via DFW). I was on oxygen at that time, but haven’t needed it since.

On board, the doctor and also a nurse (both amazing and compassionate women) looked me over, and validated my blood pressure and oxygen levels, both with devices I had brought aboard. I did notice on a recent flight home from Vancouver to Houston, and then Orlando, I felt a bit short of breath at cruising altitude so we brought a finger-sized oxygen meter with us on this trip. My oxygen level on the flight from Chicago to Seattle was in the mid 80s and should be the mid to high 90s. The Doctor especially was so kind and suspected I was dehydrated, which was probably correct as I’m on a couple diuretics I take with my heart medication. I drank quite a bit of water then that the Flight Attendant offered me, before being helped back to my seat 4C after perhaps 20 minutes. (I felt bad that the man in 1A waited patiently in the galley the whole time, although I offered him my seat, and he politely declined.) Shortly later I was provided oxygen by the Flight Attendant. As I put the mask on, I joked with her and said “This isn’t the demo mask you all use is it?”, and she laughed and said “No”. Anyway, within minutes of using the oxygen container, my oxygen levels were normal at 97 instead of previously 85.

This current flight from Chicago to Seattle after the Flight Attendant supplied me with oxygen,
Sept 2023.

When we landed in Seattle, the paramedics were waiting at the gate, and took me off the plane first, to a quiet area to further triage me. The three paramedics took their time with me, ran blood pressure, oxygen checks, and even a blood sugar test, which had normal readings, with the exception of my blood pressure which was a bit higher than normal; no doubt to the stressful experience I had onboard. The paramedics asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, and I said no I was was ok, but I did know a great hospital in town Swedish Medical Center! (Where I was for a month last year for my heart surgery and recovery.) They validated my claim that Swedish is outstanding and has the best Cardiac Care Team in Washington State. They agreed with me I was ok to go to my hotel, and it wasn’t necessary to go to the ER/hospital.

Swedish Hospital Seattle, where I was admitted for a month last Sept/Oct 2022.

Swedish Hospital (Cherry Hill campus) in Seattle Fall 2022

I thanked the paramedics for their assistance and was hoping I would see the Doctor who helped me onboard, at baggage claim to thank her again, but by the time I got there everyone was gone, and my bags were sitting next to the bag carousel. Dr. (name withheld for privacy) if you’re reading this, thank you so much for your help, compassion, and helping me relax and feeling comfortable again while onboard the flight.

As a side note, Steve (DOS) told me planes such as this have the cabin atmosphere adjusted to approximately 8,000 feet, while newer planes such as the 787 and A350 are closer to 6,000 feet, making it much more comfortable for breathing, and less likelihood of passengers fainting, such as myself. I still can’t believe this happened to me after flying well over 2 million miles in my lifetime. Will follow-up with my Cardiologist when I get home, and probably a Pulmonary specialist as well. My meds were adjusted recently and I’m on less diuretics so perhaps that played a role with fluid build up? Will see.

A Skycap assisted us to Baggage Claim (with me in a wheelchair thanks to the paramedics suggestion) and it was very helpful as the distance was quite long, and included an automated train part of the way as well. Parts of the airport were being remodeled, and it was a bit confusing where to go for an Uber, which the Skycap assisted us to the right place. The next few photos of the long journey from the gate to baggage claim, to the garage, and ultimately Uber.

Busy baggage claim area as seen from my wheelchair view.

DOS and I then took an Uber to the hotel, the Hyatt Olive 8 Downtown, which was just across the street from the Hyatt Regency we stayed at last year while I was recovering after my month hospitalization stay.

Checking into the Hyatt Olive 8 after the long couple of flights to Seattle, and my inflight incident.

Just enough luggage for a quick week trip to Seattle and home by train!

What memories I have of Seattle, and the incident on the plane felt a bit like to much like Déjà vu for my comfort, although the last incident took place on a cruise ship in Ketchikan September 2022, and I was airlifted to Bellingham, and then to Seattle 3 days later. Anyway, we made it safely to Seattle this trip in Sept 2023, and are staying for 3 nights before taking the Empire Builder Train back to Chicago for two full days (48 hour’s journey), and then flying home to Orlando after overnighting at the Hilton O’hare. At least that is the plan!?

As it was nearly 9pm by the time we got to the hotel (midnight back home), and as we were both exhausted from the long day of flights, time change, and of course the in-flight incident, we skipped dinner, showered, (although the huge oversize tub was tempting) and headed to bed early.

Welcome Back to Seattle!

2 thoughts on “Flying to Seattle and taking the Amtrak Empire Builder Train Back!

  1. Betsy

    Hi Steve & Steve! Thank you for the extremely kind and beautiful card! I have it hanging in my office. I love the pictures! I am glad to see you are doing great and onto new adventures. It was wonderful to meet you both. I’ll keep following your blog to see where you’re traveling! All my best and happy holidays!

    1. Steve Uno Post author

      Wow – so nice hearing from you Betsy! Thank you again for your assistance! I’m doing much better and we are actually in Greece today on a Seabourn cruise to Singapore. I did take a high altitude flight simulation test before we left and I did fine, as well as on the flights to Istanbul/Athens. Thanks again, and Happy Holidays to you as well! Steve

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *