Ambien to blame for yesterday’s Delta diversion to Bangor?

(Photo: Zacharmstrong / Flicker)

Details are emerging from Bangor, Maine where a Delta flight from Paris bound for Atlanta was diverted yesterday due to a security threat.

Wire stories state that Derek Stansberry, a 27 year-old Air Force veteran, told federal air marshalls onboard the plane that he had bombs in his boots and laptop, that his passport was fake, and that he thought he was being followed.

He said that he had taken up to eight Ambien, but then changed his story and said he’d taken only one. (Ambien is a prescription sleep aid.) He also mentioned that he’d taken a Valium before the flight.

After Stansberry was removed from the plane in Bangor, the flight continued on to Atlanta, arriving three hours late.

All this makes me wonder about whether we should be taking hard drugs when we are up there flying across oceans, especially in light of heightened alertness to strange behavior brought on by the well-known Christmas Day “crotch bomber.”

Do you use prescription drugs to help you sleep on long flights? I’ve taken Ambien on overseas flights in the past with no side effects other than a bad hangover. (So bad, in fact, that I no longer use it.)

On a recent trip to Asia, I went the homeopathic route. I tried Jet Lag Formula ($20), an herbal concoction designed to help battle the ill effects associated with flying. I also followed the advice of Bill Ashton who runs the “StopJetLag” program ($35 per trip) out of Palo Alto, which (among other things) encourages the use of melatonin as a sleep aid in flight. I was surprised that I was able to get plenty of good quality sleep on flights in both directions. And jet lag was not nearly as bad as I’ve experienced on previous journeys, although I must say that it was a lot easier going over than coming back.

Have you ever used Ambien or other prescription drugs to help you sleep on transoceanic flights? Is it worth the risks? Have you ever had, or witnessed, strange behavior as a result of taking those drugs in flight?

Please leave your comments and experiences below.

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One Response to “Ambien to blame for yesterday’s Delta diversion to Bangor?”

  • Jack:

    I have never used prescription drugs or any other aid to help me sleep in flight. I usually just stay up the previous night, but that did create a problem for me when a flight of mine was delayed and I was extraordinarily cranky. I have used Valerian an herbal supplement for sleep. It works tremendously well and is non-addictive and doesn’t give you a hangover, just be sure to take it 1-2 hours before your intended sleep. You can take up to 4 per day.

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