Flight attendants have a tough job. From being assaulted for bringing nuts in a bag to being fired for indulging in a bit of romance, we’ve heard some shocking stories of the all too frequent trauma they have to endure. However, nothing comes close to what’s come to light today.
Yes, as much as we hate to lower the tone of the Simple Flying site, sometimes needs must, and today we have a need. If you thought it was unpleasant to sit next to a large passenger on a plane, how would you feel if they asked you to strip them off and then wipe their bottom.
That’s exactly what happened to some unfortunate flight attendants on an EVA Air flight earlier this month, it has been revealed at a press conference today. The incident took place on a flight between LA and Taoyuan in Taiwan on January 19th.
— BoardingArea (@BoardingArea) January 21, 2019
‘He threatened to relieve himself on the floor’
The American passenger arrived at the flight in a wheelchair and demanded to be sat in three adjoining economy seats owing to his large size. Chief purser on the flight, identified only by her surname, Kuo, said there were some empty seats so she happily obliged.
She estimated the man weighed around 200kg (440lb or 31.4 stone) and was pleased to be able to offer him a comfortable seat. A couple of hours into the flight, he called her over to say he needed to use the restroom but wouldn’t fit in the economy cubicle. He demanded to use the business class bathroom; Kuo, again, obliged.
However, this is where things started to get weird.
A couple of minutes after leaving him in the toilet, the man pulled the emergency help bell. Upon entering, Kuo says he demanded someone pull down his pants as he had a hand injury that was preventing him from doing so. She initially refused, saying:
“I told him we couldn’t help him, but he started yelling. He threatened to relieve himself on the floor”
“He told me to go in there immediately and threatened to relieve himself on the floor. As the passenger’s genitals were now exposed, one of my colleagues brought a blanket, which I used to cover his modesty.
“But he very angrily slapped my hand away, saying he didn’t want it and only wanted me to remove his underwear so he could use the toilet.”
Under protest, the flight attendant did as he asked. Weirdly, he then said they had to leave the door open while he pooped, otherwise he might suffer a panic attack.
But it got worse.
‘He moaned in pleasure’
According to reports from the press conference, once he was done using the toilet, the guy called them back to wipe his bottom. Not wanting to leave the passenger trapped in the bathroom, Kuo’s chief attendant reluctantly agreed to do it.
Wearing three pairs of latex gloves, the attendant’s discomfort developed into sheer humiliation as the passenger allegedly began moaning in pleasure. Kuo said at the press conference:
“He said: ‘Oh, mmm, deeper, deeper,’ and then accused my chief attendant of not properly cleaning his backside, requesting that she do it again.”
Apparently, the attendant had to do it three times before he finally agreed to have his pants pulled back up and to return to his seat.
According to Taiwanese news sources, Kuo is now filing for sexual harassment, and who can blame her.
EVA Air flight attendants who was required to assist overweight passenger in lavatory, including removing underwear and wiping his backside, files sexual harassment claim – https://t.co/Lz0B102QzH pic.twitter.com/XiMTY3lbuY
— Dr. Todd Curtis (@speedbrake) January 22, 2019
In tears at a press conference, she accused EVA Air of not doing enough to protect her.
EVA Air flight attendant alleges sexual harassment by elderly white male passenger, tearfully accuses company of failing to protect her https://t.co/iIeci7jphD
— ジェームス (@jmstwn) January 22, 2019
Are EVA Air to blame?
EVA Air, who only employ female cabin crew, made a statement saying crew are not obliged to comply with passenger demands. They said this was the case even in the situation where someone requires special assistance.
But the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union who is representing Kuo and her colleagues has said the problem is systemic. They argue that flight attendants increasingly work in a service industry culture, where they are expected to bend to every passengers whim.
The general reaction is shock and horror. Some have called for the passenger to be named and shamed, although we doubt those who know him will have much trouble identifying him. He is rather ‘unique’ looking.
Since the incident, it has emerged that the passenger was met from the plane by a wheelchair. Passing through the airport, wheelchair assistance asked if he needed to use the toilet and whether he needed any help. The man said he didn’t require any assistance to go to the toilet.
What’s really upsetting is that it’s not the first time this has happened. According to the union, the very same man previously defecated himself in his seat and then refused to clean himself up, and another time he spit juice on his crotch and demanded the stewardess dab the area dry.
Rather than blacklist the passenger, EVA Air are being accused of simply allowing his behavior and expecting frontline staff to deal with it. The union propose that the carrier begins banning people who behave in inappropriate ways, as well as hiring male flight attendants to fix the problem.
The bottom line (sorry) is that no flight attendant should have to deal with situations like this. Negotiations are expected to continue over the coming days, and we hope for a successful outcome for these unfortunate staff members.