Airborne (House)

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House episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 18
Directed byElodie Keene
Written byDavid Hoselton
Original air dateApril 10, 2007
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Fetal Position"
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House (season 3)
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"Airborne" is the eighteenth episode of the third season of House, the sixty-fourth episode overall.


House (Hugh Laurie) is returning from a pandemics symposium in Singapore with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). During the flight, a Korean man by the name of Peng (Jamison Yang) sitting next to House begins vomiting. He also presents with fever, headache, abdominal pain and petechial rashes on his lower back. Cuddy notes that these are classic symptoms of meningococcal disease and that an outbreak might be imminent. Because of their flight path, they must turn back immediately or they will be unable to get medical attention. House is not convinced there is a problem, and persuades the flight crew not to turn the plane around.

Soon another passenger becomes ill with the same symptoms. House assembles a makeshift diagnostic team with three passengers: a boy House instructs to agree with everything he says (thus mimicking Chase), a man who does not speak English, instructed to disagree with everything he says (imitating Foreman), and a woman instructed to get morally outraged at everything he says (as Cameron does). After a discussion with his "team", House is convinced that both passengers are sick with ciguatera poisoning because they both ate seafood. He announces to the rest of the passengers that anyone who ate seafood should go to the restroom and vomit.

However, this theory is contradicted by Cuddy, who is showing similar symptoms despite having not eaten the sea bass. House tells the stewardess to tell the passengers not to worry, but three more people apparently succumb to the same illness. Without any medicine, House collects what antibiotics he can from the passengers. Cuddy then persuades House to do a lumbar puncture to find out whether the illness is meningitis. House does the test, which comes back negative. When Cuddy begins to shout at House to cure the sickness quickly, he realizes that she and the rest of the plane are suffering from mass hysteria. He tests this theory by suggesting to the passengers that one symptom is uncontrollable trembling of the left hand, which many of them immediately start to exhibit, indicating some of the illnesses are psychosomatic.

Peng, however, is still dying; House believes it is because the man is a drug mule and has cocaine in his system, and prepares to operate. As his "team" holds Peng down, House realizes that the man's pain is eased by pressure. Searching through Peng's wallet, he finds a scuba license and a receipt for scuba gear rental, dated the previous day. Peng is diagnosed with decompression sickness, caused by surfacing too quickly when diving, which was further worsened by boarding an airplane, which is pressurized to 8000 feet above sea level. House tells the flight crew to drop the plane below 5000 feet and get Peng oxygen, and he will be fine.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, a 58-year-old woman, Fran (Jenny O'Hara), has been admitted with unexplained seizures and vision loss. With her is Robin (Meta Golding), an outcall prostitute who had just met Fran, but who stays at the behest of Wilson, who is leading House's team. After lying about where she was, Fran admits that she just arrived from a trip to Caracas, where she had unprotected sex and used cocaine. Chase and Cameron visit Fran's house to search for clues, but are distracted by the allure of an empty bed. They return without a diagnosis, leaving Foreman with the belief Fran is bleeding into her brain, the solution for which is a hole in her head to relieve the pressure. Chase, however, realizes neither Fran nor her cat have eaten in the last few days, and goes back to the house to find that when the neighbors had their home fumigated, some of the poison entered Fran's house. Fran is diagnosed with methyl bromide toxicity, and the procedure is stopped before it goes too far. After she is cured Wilson calls Robin to tell her what was wrong with Fran and to ask Robin if she is planning to come back to the hospital.

At the end of the episode, Chase (Jesse Spencer) suggests that he and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) take their relationship to the next level. Cameron responds that all she was looking for was sex, and says "It was fun. That's it. And now it's over."

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