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Auckland man Paul Ross told the New Zealand Herald about three hours after American Airlines flight 82 left Auckland yesterday one of the passengers had what appeared to be a heart attack.
Ross, speaking to the Herald from on board the plane, said for at least three hours about three or four doctors, and nurses, worked "tirelessly to keep this gentleman alive".
"He's in a very serious way," Ross said.
Communication from staff on the plane was "piss poor", creating a very stressful environment for passengers.
"The level of stress was huge."
Ross and his two daughters were travelling in the premium section but could see the main cabin was full and a dozen people standing around while doctors and nurses worked on the man.
"This went on for hours and not a single announcement. People were getting pretty uptight."
An announcement about the situation came after over two hours.
"Piss poor really, the crew saying it's a medical emergency and that's it," Ross said.
"My 11-year-old was scared, asking if he is going to die. Honestly, it's a bloody terrible service."
According to the American Airlines website, the flight departed Auckland International Airport at 2.47pm on Tuesday, but was diverted mid flight to Honolulu International Airport, arriving at 2.02am.
An American Airlines spokesperson told the Herald the flight was diverted to Honolulu due to an ill passenger.
Medical personnel met the plane at the airport.
"Due to passenger privacy, we can't disclose any additional details," they said.
The flight was scheduled to depart Honolulu at 2.40am, arriving at Los Angeles International Airport at 10.11am.