On an EVA Air Los Angeles to Taipei flight on Saturday a passenger’s behavior was so bizarre, and pushed the envelope with flight attendants to such a degree, that the union is demanding changes at the carrier.
- Let me begin by saying I understand how challenging it can be to travel with a disability, to rely on help from others, and to have to use the bathroom inflight when mobility is limited.
- Let me also say that it is not the responsibility of flight attendants to assist in the process of going to the bathroom, and if a passenger cannot manage this on their own then they need to travel with a caregiver.
A passenger who boarded the flight in a wheelchair asked to be moved to a row with three empty seats and this was given to him. He told flight attendants that his hand was broken and needed help going to the bathroom. The lavatory in economy was too small so he was allowed to use the business class toilet.
Once inside he pressed the assistance button. His underwear was halfway down and he asked for help getting it down the rest of the way.
The flight attendant at first refused, but the man, sitting on the toilet with his legs open and genitals exposed, insisted, and pleaded that he could not complete his ablutions with his underwear only half-down.
“Come in and help me out … you promised to help me!” he said.
The flight attendant put a blanket over the passenger’s groin, donned a pair of surgical gloves and helped pull down the man’s underwear.
He insisted on leaving the lavatory door open. As he continued doing his business he “asked the flight attendant to wipe his bottom.”
While she initially demurred, he insisted, saying she promised to help him – and that if he couldn’t wipe he’d have to remain in the lavatory for the rest of the flight. So “the flight attendant donned three layers of surgical gloves.”
The passenger though wasn’t satisfied with the job she was doing and “kept saying ‘deeper, deeper!'”
Suggesting he wasn’t just in need of more thorough cleaning, but ‘taking advantage of the situation’ in his own way, when the flight landed male ground crew took him off the plane, asked if he needed help using the restroom, he declined saying he could do it on his own.
The flight attendant “shut herself up in a toilet cubicle, vomited, and cried” after the ordeal.
(Credit:Taiwan English News)
According to reports on Flyertalk that they decided they couldn’t leave the man in the lavatory due to turbulence, he refused blankets to ‘cover up’ and insisted three times that the flight attendant wasn’t wiping him properly. He said “you better have wiped me clean.”
This wasn’t the only time this happened inflight, he had to go to the lavatory a second time and a different group of flight attendants rinsed, repeated.
Here’s Taiwanese news video showing the passenger coming off the flight, and still images from inflight:
This same passenger sought similar flight attendant assistance on a May 2018 Los Angeles – Taipei – Bangkok trip where flight attendants refused, so he did his business “in the seat.” Rumor is that the flight crew received a disciplinary hearing as a result, and were warned. There are also suggestions this isn’t the only time this individual used his seat as a toilet on EVA Air.
Since the story went viral other reports surfaced of him behaving similarly on Thai Airways. He has also “spill[ed] juice into his crotch area and then demands [flight attendants] wipe it for him. They gave him napkins to clean himself, but he wants them to clean it and says ‘you can do better.'”
Already the incident has escalated with the flight attendants union because apparently the airline refused to recognize the traumatizing ordeal for work injury leave.
Here’s the union’s press conference.
The union demands that the passenger get banned, the flight attendants be allowed time off, and male flight attendants should be hired though it’s not clear what they’d have done in this situation — although it seems to me that the passenger’s behavior would have warranted security meeting the aircraft on arrival, and if there was a safety threat from his behavior and turbulence the the plane perhaps should have diverted.
Unfortunately as much of the Taiwanese coverage of this incident that I’ve seen focuses on the man’s age and weight for why the incident was disgusting — rather than the specifics of what happened.
What do you think, what should flight attendants have done here and how should the airline respond?