This Is One Reason It’s OK for You to Cause a Flight Delay

PHOTO: Oliver Holzbauer / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In this instance, absolutely be “that” person.

A husband and wife boarded a United Airlines flight from Vancouver to Houston on Sunday only to find their seats, the floor, and the back of the seat in front of them (including the seatback tray area) covered in “fresh” vomit—and when they asked for it to be cleaned up, a flight attendant told them that they were “going to be the reason this flight is delayed.”

“I was told, ‘Oh yeah, we can get a cleaning crew, but you’re going to be the reason this flight is delayed,’” Sam Trail, the husband, told local news station Click2Houston.

So, the airline, or at least this employee, was more concerned about the flight leaving on time (a thing airlines have, in my experience, never really cared that much about) than actual vomit on the seat?

The flight attendant apparently then handed the couple some paper towels to clean it up themselves, prior to a cleaning attendant coming onboard with spray cleaner and a regular towel which didn’t entirely clean up the vomit, and Trail had to…just sit in it.

This is entirely too close of quarters to deal with someone else’s vomit, thanks! airbus777 / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

United released a statement saying the following: “We’re disappointed that this aircraft did not meet our standards for cleanliness. Once the issue was brought to our crew’s attention, cabin cleaners were called on board to clean the seat prior to departure.”

Which, technically, yes, cleaners were called on board to fix the situation. But not before the crew was pretty uncaring and flippant about the whole thing. By telling the couple that they were “going to be the reason the flight is delayed,” the flight staff essentially just shamed them for not wanting to put their faces in someone else’s literal vomit. There have been far worse passengers. Surely, this isn’t the time and place to make it their problem.

Treating customers who bring up a valid (and disgusting and unsanitary) complaint like they are fussy and uptight is just plain rude.

Nobody ever wants to be “the reason the flight is delayed.” Historically, the people normally accused in these situations are unruly passengers who are rude and careless themselves, but this? This is not that. And treating customers who bring up a valid (and disgusting and unsanitary) complaint as if they are fussy and uptight is just plain rude. These people weren’t being jerks. They just didn’t want to stare at (and smell!) vomit for hours.

This is one of those moments where, yes. Be “that” person—absolutely be that person. Be the reason the flight is delayed, without feeling bad about it, because there is literal vomit—sorry, fresh vomit, it’s new—in your extremely small seat and also right in front of your face. You paid for this plane ticket, and you don’t deserve to sit for hours on end with vomit in your face.

Don’t let anyone shame you into accepting the unacceptable. Even if it does make you “that” person, technically.