In May 2016, Lewis Christman was flying from Chicago to Rome when he suffered a bout of acute pancreatitis. He curled into a fetal position on the floor. He spent the next seven hours in agony while the plane flew on. The next three months, he spent in hospitals.
This month, Christman sued, accusing United Continental Holdings Inc. of ignoring a recommendation from a doctor on board to divert the flight and failing to contact medical consultants on the ground. It was another round of bad publicity for United and one that draws scrutiny to how U.S. air carriers treat passengers in distress and the pressure to keep flights in the air.