There are only a few rules to follow when traveling by aircraft and yet it’s so hard for some people to follow them. If the flight attendant cannot persuade such passengers to comply, then there are those rare occasions where an immediate landing may be necessary.First, you walk on the aircraft and as quickly as possible and take your seat after stowing your bag(s). Turn OFF electronics, fasten seat belts and remain seated until the seat belt sign is off, use approved electronics, have a drink, land and get off. Sounds easy, right?
Not for one guy on my flight last week. I noticed that the flight attendant in the back of the cabin got up before we were chimed to do so. A male passenger followed and went into the lavatory as she walked forward to the galley. Apparently, the passenger near her in the back was yelling at her because “he had to go to the damn bathroom”. First, during taxi and then barely after take off. When she told him that he would need to wait until we were safely in the air, he was not happy about it and verbally cursed about it. Next, she said that he was leaning toward the wall and feared that he was urination on the wall!
While I walked to the back to survey the scene, she called the Captain to make him aware of the situation. A man in the back row asked if I realized that the passenger had urinated into a “sick bag”. I replied yes and walked back to the front slightly relieved and somewhat impressed at the creativity, although still not pleased by the earlier situation. We agreed that for now, we would continue on instead of inconveniencing the rest of the passengers as long as all was calm.
When I got back to the aft flight attendant with the drink cart, the couple was laughing with her and apologized for his behavior. The woman told us that the husband has pancreatic cancer. It’s a little hard not to feel bad for anyone with cancer, however, that doesn’t make cursing at the flight attendant a reasonable (or suggested) form of communication. I replied, somewhat jokingly, that I have a kidney transplant (true) that is attached to my bladder and know how bad one can have to go to the bathroom. I also know though that you don’t yell at the flight crew without facing possible consequences. Again, they apologized and the flight continued on with no other problems. After we landed, the husband got off first, leaving the wife as the last to get off. She began to argue with me a little more insisting that his behavior was due to pancreatic cancer. Of course, this gave me the excuse to warn her that she’s lucky that we didn’t land early and had every right to because there is NO reason to curse at flight crew. Ever.
So, at what point would we make an emergency landing for this situation?
If the passenger were threatening the flight attendant, yes. If the passenger would not be seated during taxi, we would have returned to the gate. If the passenger had not stopped yelling at the flight attendant and made her feel unsafe in her duties, then yes, we would have landed. Just so that you know, a personality conflict is not a reason to land. Interfering with a flight crew member’s duties? Definitely!
Consider yourselves warned to behave like courteous adults.