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Traveling with Migraine

I've had migraines for more than 40 years, and have been traveling for perhaps the past 20 years - so it was only a matter of time before the two paths intertwined. It happened just two weeks ago. I found myself in the Miami airport waiting to board my flight to Argentina. The migraine was a bad one. I was shaky, lights were a knife stabbing into my brain, and all I wanted was to curl up into a little ball and sleep.

The stewardess noticed, of course, and asked me how I was. So I told her. Big mistake. They actually kicked me off the flight! They would not allow me to continue on my journey for fear that I would pass out and they would have to turn around mid-flight to get me to a hospital.

I completely understand their fears - but I have to admit, I was so PISSED OFF when they forced me off the plane. I just could not believe they would do that. Thankfully, they paid for a hotel room and got me rescheduled onto the same flight the next day. But all my plans got messed up, and everything had to be rescheduled.

So, the lesson I learned: when a stewardess asks you how you're doing, you say "I'm fine" even if you're a walking zombie in so much pain you can barely see straight.

  1. , traveling when you live with migraine can be so challenging! The unpredictability of migraine makes it difficult to plan and maintain a schedule. It's really impressive that you've had such a great track record of successful travel without migraine until your recent trip to Argentina! I hear how angry and frustrated you felt at being removed from your flight because of your symptoms. It again highlights the lack of understanding for migraine and how uniquely it presents for each person. You know your body best and if you knew it was going to be uncomfortable but unlikely to create an in-air medical emergency given your history with migraine, it seems that you should be able to decide. Sadly, lack of awareness means lack of understanding, and one set of guidelines. I'm glad you got there the next day, though it is a pain to have your whole itinerary off and needing to reshuffle everything. We have a few articles about traveling with migraine I thought might be of interest to you. 1) 2) 3)
    How are you feeling today? Did you ultimately have a good time in Argentina, even with the delay? Thank you for sharing your experience so openly with us. Know we are here to listen when you need a friendly ear. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (team member)

    1. I did have a good time once I got to my destination - but there was a lot of phone calls and emails flying around to get things organized again.

      1. Oh my goodness! I'm sorry you had such a difficult time but happy to hear your trips was a good one.
        I'm flying in November and fingers crossed won't have an attack. Having said that if I do
        and am questioned by a flight attendant I will happily say "I'm fine!"
        Sending along pain free wishes, Nancy Harris Bonk, Patient Leader/Moderator Team

    2. What a mess, Ruth. So sorry you had to go through that. I'm especially surprised given that so many people wrongly think that a migraine is "just a headache." And my understanding is that simple over-the-counter medication is usually available onboard for non-urgent medical complaints. It seems unusual to me that it would escalate to removing you entirely before seeing how else they might be able to assist.

      Grateful you were compensated. Have you flown with this airline before? (You don't have to share which one, just wondering what your other experiences have been like.) Thanks for sharing this unfortunate, but important, story with us. -Melissa, migraine team

      1. This was my first time flying with this particular airline, and I have to say that this event - along with numerous other nit-picky things - ensures that I never fly with them again. Just did not have a good experience with them.

        Lesson Learned, I guess...

        1. it's completely understandable that you would be turned off by the airline from this experience! I can't say that I would fly them again, if I was in your shoes.
          - Alene, moderator

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