What’s Grosser Than Gross? United Airlines Edition

In April a family was ‘forced’ to sit in vomit on a United flight to DC.

Now a related story that a couple flying United on their anniversary trip to Hawaii found a ‘full’ barf bag in the seat back pocket.

The woman said when she handed the bag over to a United Airlines flight attendant, the contents spilled on both her and her husband’s clothes. Though the attendant offered them new seats, it was too late, she says — the smell was already on their clothes and they had to endure it for the rest of the flight.

United was initially non-responsive to the passengers’ complaints, but after media got involved the airline offered a $300 voucher.

My take:

  • It happens
  • It’s disgusting
  • I feel bad for the cleaners who are normally expected to handle such things
  • It was a failure that this was in the seatback pocket, and the passengers should be compensated (it’s not the product they were paying for)
  • The biggest fault here though lies with the person whose fluids were in the bag and simply left there.

(HT: sobore on Milepoint)

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 also sat in a seat on a united flight that was vomited on. They did nothing for me. Not even a wet towel to clean my clothes.

  2. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. I would lose it if “forced” to sit in vomit. Take me off the plane. In cuffs if necessary.

  3. I had a similar experience on a flight from Hawaii to LAX. I reached into the seat pocket and my hand wound up in a bag of cold vomit. I went ballistic when the FA told me they had no alcohol in the on board first aid kit to sanitize my hand. I made them give me miniature bottles of vodka to pour over my hand. They were not happy. This was shortly after 911- good thing there was no Air Marshall on board or I probably would have wound up in hand cuffs.

  4. Why do you stick your hand in the seat back pocket before even looking in there first? People from all walks of life fly on airplanes and just like the vomit was left, so could be needles, baby diapers, food, etc.etc. Also if you see anything left behind in a seat back pocket why would you pick it up? The smart thing to do is ask the Attendant if she can remove it (with gloves of course) or have her call a cleaner to remove it. Lets use some common sense please, and quit trying to blame the airlines and it’s crew for something that could have been handled without the drama. IJS

  5. @tj – I agree completely. Let the FA do his/her job. And shame on the previous pax for leaving it in the seatback pocket (still trying to figure out how that bag held up under the pressure of the pocket). UA should certainly refund the tickets since cleaners missed that!

  6. Do they make airline sized Lysol spray cans and would I get through security with it?

    I’ll start wearing surgical gloves on my flight and spraying Lysol.

    Upside: Nobody will question my 10 emotional support cloned dogs..
    By the way, do the regs have a limit of one?
    Someone did suggest here I could have one per DSM diagnosis.
    Makes sense.

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