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Asiana Airlines makes emergency landing to save 8-year-old passenger

An Asiana Airlines flight bound from New York to Seoul last month made an emergency landing when an 8-year-old passenger suddenly fell ill, according to the air carrier on Tuesday. The decision allowed for the fast transportation and treatment of the girl, who has since recovered.

According to Asiana, the passenger, identified by her surname, Choi, was on flight OZ221 from New York to Incheon Airport for a visit to South Korea with her family. About an hour and 30 minutes into the trip, Choi suddenly developed a high fever and stomachache. Flight attendants immediately started tending to the child and consulted with a doctor aboard the plane, who said the child needed emergency medical attention at a hospital, the airline explained.

They announced the plane’s diversion to the nearby Anchorage airport to the flight of 470 people, seeking their understanding and cooperation for the emergency landing. The Asiana Anchorage ground crew was on standby to rush Choi to a nearby hospital.

In order to execute a safe landing, the plane had to dump 15 tons of jet fuel into the air to lower its weight.

After refueling, the flight set back off from Anchorage and arrived at Incheon Airport about four hours behind schedule.

Upon landing, passengers broke into applause when the pilot broadcast apologies for the inconvenience and thanked them for their cooperation, the airline said.

Days after the incident, the airline said Choi’s father sent a letter thanking those involved, including a picture drawn by the 8-year-old. 

A drawing by the 8-year-old passenger sent to Asiana Airlines (Asiana Airlines)
A drawing by the 8-year-old passenger sent to Asiana Airlines (Asiana Airlines)

“We thank the flight crew, passengers, pilot, and officers of Flight 02221 for making the difficult choice to emergency land and the staff at Anchorage for their rapid treatment of my child,” the letter read. 

By Timothy Im, intern reporter
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