Spirit Airlines Crew Refuses To Let Passenger Use The Restroom, She’s Forced To Go On The Floor

When the seat belt sign is on, you’re supposed to stay in your seat. Generally if you have to go to the bathroom you should wait if you can, but when you have to go you have to go.

If the aircraft is on an active taxiway, they’re not supposed to move unless all passengers are seated. So don’t go then. But if the plane hasn’t yet hit an altitude where the captain has turned off the fasten seatbelt sign, or there’s turbulence, you can generally get up.

  • A flight attendant may inform you that the seat belt sign is on

  • But that’s different than telling you not to go

Basically they don’t want their airline to be liable for injuries from turbulence. You’ve been warned and are proceeding at your own risk.

Reportedly, though, on a recent Spirit Airlines flight a woman was denied access to the lavatory. She really had to go. She waited, she says, for two hours and finally couldn’t hold it anymore. She relieved herself on the floor of the aircraft. And someone – it appears to be a member of the cabin crew – films it.

I’m not going to post the video but you can click on it if you must. My point in sharing this is to educate how this works. People often hear “the seat belt sign is on” from a flight attendant in response to their getting up, and think they’re being told they can’t go to the bathroom when they’re literally being told that the seat belt sign is on – and nothing more.

As it should be. Go before you get on board. Or even go during boarding if you must. But if you find you really have to go, you’re facing tradeoffs: the small chance of an out of sample turbulence event versus the near certainty of an embarrassing accident.

Here, I think, the crew were doubling wrong: (1) denying access to the lavatory, and (2) filming the humiliation, which has gone viral worldwide on social media and in tabloids.

It’s not even the first time a passenger has done this in that exact spot on a plane. And previously when it was caught on video it was literally on Wizz Air.

Usually alcohol is involved, and usually the passenger loses control or exercises bad judgment. It’s happened in the past on American and JetBlue and easyJet and United.

Rarely is a passenger told they simply cannot ‘go’.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m not going to watch the video.
    Assuming the facts are as reported, I am forced to ask, what has happened to simple humanity in our society?

  2. The FA does not contest her statement of making them wait two hours. And then (regardless) posting it on Instagram. They should be fired.

  3. FA should be fired immediately. This is society today: intentionally rude and mean to others so that you can film it for views. That TikTok trend of cutting ppl’s headphone cords sums that mentality up well

    The active taxiway rule is needed for safety, but brutal on the bladder when flights are operating like they have been recently. You can spend 1-3 hours on an active taxiway, unable to get up. If you then hit some bad bumps on departure (FA’s asked to stay buckled in level), you could be looking at 4+ hours with no access to a restroom.

  4. Disgusting… and I’m not saying that about the passenger/customer it’s the the airline. Completely ridiculous. This woman was not in her seat already .. what on earth harm could there be at that point. Jesus Christ … have some respect for this other human. The crew should be fired for filming this. Not tomorrow, but today.

  5. I don’t understand. She’s already out of her seat and in the galley area, right next to the bathroom door. So she’s obviously already unbelted. At that point, just let her use the damn lav. It’s clear the FAs were on a total power trip. Hopefully they receive the appropriate discipline.

  6. All flight attendants on every airline are rude when you gotta get up and go. It’s annoying.

  7. She obviously haven’t watched Key & Peele….”but is it against the law…against the law…against the law”

  8. I absolutely loath ambulance chasers but hope that she has a list of a dozen lawyers that are calling her w/ offers of how much they will get out of Spirit for this.
    The FA was not acting as a private citizen but as an employee of Spirit. The lady not only knows who filmed her but also that the FAs allowed that person.
    She should be compensated w/ lifetime flight benefits on another airline that has a sense of decency and compassion.

    And the rule is that the aircraft cannot be taxiing w/ passengers standing. The plane most certainly did not taxi for 2 hours. It was stopped for extensive periods of time and the crew including the pilots should have simply said that they know some people need to use the lavs and that they will allow a very short time to do so but the aircraft cannot move until every one is reseated.
    I have been on flights – including on Spirit – where that exactly was allowed to happen during extensive taxi out or taxi in situations.

  9. Even if “alcohol” is involved, as long as the passenger truly has to go to the bathroom and made good faith efforts, they should be allowed to use the lav at their own risk.

    Alcohol does not transform the situation, if you have to go you should be able to use the bathroom in a reasonable amount of time. Period.

    Fire the FA.

  10. Too much alcohol could have played a role,… or maybe not at all. Some have medical conditions, and most of us are more vulnerable as we get to a certain age.
    At any rate, a poor decision by the member of the flight crew to deny entrance to the lavatory for 2 full hours. They should be retrained and receive discipline.
    The member of the crew who filmed this sad episode should have been fired immediately upon positive identification of being the producer of the video.
    Really disgusting all the way around, in respect to the flight crew.

  11. Sad. On a flight from ORD to BZN in first we had a long taxi with lots of long stops. Eventually, the lady behind me couldn’t hold it anymore. We were about number 5 or 6 for take-off and the FA let her go. She went very quickly and we were number 3 by the time she got back. No issues.

  12. Once had to bolt right as the wheels went up – was an Alitalia flight, seated in row 1 – FA didn’t cause a fuss

    Yes some drinks involved

  13. Spirit Airlines, the Greyhound of the sky. That humiliation will cost them 7 figures.

  14. I’m going to be totally honest here. Reading this and watching the video the flight attendant needs to be terminated ASAP. Number one it appears they are still at the gate as her exit door is not armed. Number two it’s against company policy that her phone should not be in use. How do I know? I retired from Spirts after 21 1/2 years of service as a flight attendant. I retired 2 years ago. I am disgusted at the actions of some, not all, crew and passengers.

  15. I feel sorry for the lady. She shouldn’t have to take this type of abuse. I hope that a heavy fine to Spirit and a large settlement make the airline rethink their strategy.

  16. I don’t remember the exact circumstances but I had to go. They talked like they wanted me to wait but I didn’t. Nothing was said about it.

  17. They leave the seatbelt sign so they can serve without disturbance…..just ignore it and go to the lavatory when in the air

  18. @Gary: But really, what’s the deal with the “I’m not going to post the video” with a link to the video? That IS posting the video!

  19. I thought Spirit had relinquished their crown for absolutely worst airline to Frontier a long time ago. Seems I may have been mistaken.

  20. I was on a WN flight about a year ago (only because they had the only nonstop from LAS to SMF)…About 5 minutes from landing the flight attendant in the back who was new (during the flight the older flight attendant in the front told us so) came running up front and frantically told the older flight attendant up front to call the captain because a passenger was throwing up in the lav. I was in row 2 so I heard the entire exchange. The older flight attendant told the new one: ” No. I’m not calling and making them go-around just for that. We’re already 5 hours late. Go back, strap in and look out the window in the door. When we’re almost on the ground, yell through the lav door for the lady to brace herself the best she can. We’re not getting puke all over the airplane or another passenger. She’ll be just fine.” I was actually surprised to see that there are some reasonable flight attendants still out there.

  21. Slam dunk lawsuit incoming. She’ll make more from it than from any pee fetish porn for sure.

  22. Flight attendants are required to inform that the seatbelt sign is on.
    But that is it.
    Not stop someone from using the restroom.

  23. Inform not enforce. Passengers have been in lavs for takeoff and landing after being informed (some even unlock the door themselves on the outside). You’re an adult. Sorry if you get hurt.

  24. It doesn’t surprise me.
    Spirit airlines staff has been rude and inconsiderate always. I flew with them only once, and I will never do it again.
    They should be fined, the passenger compensated, and the flight attendant sued for filming incident.

  25. From what I observed, flight attendants respond in 3 different ways when passengers head to the lavatory while the fasten seatbelt light is on:
    1) Some flight attendants say “the seatbelt sign is on” and stop at that.
    2) Others say “be careful” or “use extreme caution”
    3) Others actually deny lavatory access and force the passengers to return to their seat

  26. I watched the video. The one FA has her back to the lady peeing, out of dignity and respect. This FA did nothing to intervene and stop her co worker from being nasty to the passenger. Neither FA are in their jump seats, the flight attendant accused of denying lavatory should be fired and the remaining flight attendants stood down for a month to think about crew resource management CRM. Oh I do hope this flight attendant has to pee in a hurry and some kind people provide her a washroom. Who hires these people?

  27. It always astonishes me how much longer the seat belt sign is on for AA flights vs. QF, for example. I think it’s a totally different culture.

  28. FA who filmed the incident should be fired immediately and hopefully never works again in any Customer Service position. Rude and inhumane to this Customer. Hopefully, this Customer has a really good attorney who can ge. t compensation for her lost dignity. Too bad she did not just have to throw up all over that FA.

    Just one more compelling reason to avoid flying on Spirit.

  29. Eventually the body **will** expel the waste, biology can’t be denied forever. If they are going to power trip and deny them the lavs they can just clean the plane. And whoever published the video should get fired.

    And I think they should change the rules a bit. With the seat belt sign on it should be at-your-own-risk regardless of where the plane is.

  30. I am not going to watch the video, but my hope is the passenger ends up with $10m+ in compensation and that the FA is fired today and unable to ever find employment again. This just sounds horrible.

  31. You are TOTALLY wrong about “proceeding at your own risk.” The airline will still be liable for injuries for not enforcing its own policies and, most importantly, FAA regulations. I do not believe for one second that she was told, “No,” for two hours. Pack of lies.

    You should not tell people that they are allowed to violate FAA regulations whenever they feel like it.

  32. Sounds like some of the Spirit passengers have been hired by Spirit as flight attendants.

  33. Call the lawyers – lawsuit time!

    Hope she gets a big payout.

    Never flown Spirit and know many people who will never fly them again. Beware the high cost of the low price.

  34. @Cam
    If you look closely at the exit door the woman in huddled next too, that door isn’t armed which tells me they were still at the gate.

  35. With all the stories I hear about Spirit why are people still flying the company
    One comment is that it is like Greyhounds not true
    At least Greyhound will respond to your complaint and Handel it
    I will never fly Spirit airlines but I sure will take Greyhound

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