In-flight Issues

Did you experience any problems during an Continental Airlines flight?

In-flight Issue
Harassment & Humiliating Treatment by CO Stewardesses

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Old Mar 22, 2009, 2:24 PM
oldtimer oldtimer is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 5

I apologize in advance for the graphic detail - but had to include it to reflect the reason for my complaint:
I have flown between asia, europe and americas for well over 25 years, and on most international airlines. Lufthansa, KLM, Air France and BA are at the top of my experiences for in flight and on land service and customer care.
Recently, I decided to try Continental, from Newark to Delhi, for the very first time on the non stop flight CO82. Most other CO flights I have taken domestically, and once to europe, and it was ok, nothing bad but nothing good either. My decision to try CO82 was primarily because I had a death in the family, and wanted to avoid the stop over in europe en route to India, to reach there that much sooner. Else, I woudl have stuck to my tried and trusted carriers like Lufthansa , BA or KLM anytime, or tried newer airlines like Virgin or Jet.
Unfortunately, a small dinner of baked potato I ate at Newark airport before the flight, didnt agree with my stomach. ( If I was flying trans Altantic on most other Airlines, I would have waited for in flight dinner - but the food choices & service on CO is horrible so I thought of getting food prior to flight).
About 4 hours into the flight, my stomach hurt, I was naseous, and quite sick. I went to one of the rest rooms, thinking I may throw up or have upset bowel movements.
As it turned out, in the rest room, I also felt like I was dizzy and may faint when I was in there, so I pressed the "call attendant" button, thinking I should let them know how sick I felt ( and not pass out in the rest room )!.
NO ATTENDANT CAME. I kept sitting there on the pot hoping to feel better.
Finally I was so nauseous, I threw up in the sink.
As usually happens, once the offending substance is rejected by the body via puking or bowel movement, it feels better right away, so did I .
Except, the sink wouldnt drain.
I dont do this all the time, but having flown over million miles worldwide, and travelled with kids etc in the past, I know if you do puke in the sink, when you run the water and drain it, it clears. Only at the seat does one look for the air sickness bags.
After trying a few times to drain an rinse the sink with tap water, I went back to my seat, after covering the sink with paper towels so it doesnt gross someone out.
About five minutes later, one of the stewardesses came to my seat, and aksed me (LOUDLY among sleeping/resting passengers) if I was sick in the rest room. Upon my confirmation, she asked me to come back with her. Not wanting to cause a scene at my seat, I obliged to find out what was up.
There was another stewardess waiting there also.
The first stewadess asked me why I had convered the sink with paper - I explained how I was sick, no one came, I threw up, it wouldnt drain, so I covered it.
The second stwardess commented that people press the help button all the time by accident so they just turn it off when the walk by. (wow - flight creww apathy at it best - what if someone was having a heart attack, I wonder !)
The first stwardess said " well you got the sink blocked so now you fix it - it is not our job to fix it"
I told her I tried to run water and drain it, but the that sink does NOT drain - I dont know why, I am not a plumber.
I also told her, that rest rooms, the toilette and sink, are for expected uses, and my usage of it to throw up in was not outside the realm of expected uses, but if the equipment is malfunctioning, I cannot help it.
It is not like I threw up all over the cabin and didnt assist to help - the darn sink was not draining?
She started making louder comments so the passngers in earshot could hear her, and it was humiliating and harrassing to be traeted like an ignorant passenger.
SHe proceeded to hand me some gloves and said, "open the sink drain and see if you can fix it" .
Out of compassion for the other passengers, I tried lifting the stopper ( thru my vomit and water), but the drain was all backed up.The sink was not functioning as it should. I picked a rest room where the sink was blocked - it wasn't that I threw up a truckload blocking everything !
The stewardess got very loud uttering to the other how I had ruined one of the few rest rooms they had working ( why only a "few rest rooms were working" I still dont know !)
I told her I cannot help any further, washed my hands, and went back to my seat.
I could hear her uttering more comlaints, how they had to lock this rest room for the rest of the flight etc.
I didnt get sick again, nor did I go to any rest rooms till we landed.
The said stewardess, who seemed to be assignde to our section, treated me with complete disgust then on.
Breakfast was NOT served to me, and when I aksed for coffee, she said loudly " are you sure you are not going to throw up again all over the plane" .
Upon landing, when she said goodbyes to all, she looked the other way when I left.
The entire treatment was utterly embarrassing, I felt harassed, and humiliated by CO crew for using a rest room for what it was meant to.
I have tried calling CO customer service without much feedback.
I will continue to call/write to them , but at this point I do not expect much feedback.
It is one of our major airlines, have good flight routes and connections, yet pay ZERO attention to client satisfaction and comfort. CO has some of the worst flight crew ever, even though once in a while you get an educated and caring personIt seems they hire people who cant get a job anywhere else !
Most international airlines have much better services and crew - if you can afford the stop over time in europe en route to asia, do NOT fly these long CO routes - they are the worst !!
If CO is reading this: There is STILL HOPE TO PICK UP YOUR SERVICES - Get some EDUCATED and TRAINED CREW and have them fly some routes with other top rated airlines to WHAT WORLD CLASS SERVICE LOOKS LIKE!!
Best of luck to all, especially to CO to get their act back - there is still hope if you care enough!
Weary from CO travel experience,
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Old Mar 23, 2009, 2:55 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,109

Bad treatment all the way around. Under NO circumstance should a passenger be asked to fix anything on a plane whether he/she had anything to do with it not working or not. Flight attendants acted very unprofessionally and I hope you pursue this further.

I have been sick on a flight before too and know exactly how you feel. I didn't vomit but on a flight from Tokyo to Chicago non-stop, I don't think I moved from my seat and my buddy said I turned some wonderful shades of green and blue. Point being, a person doesn't feel well, he/she should not be subjected to further humliation by a condesending crew.
Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.
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Old Mar 23, 2009, 8:25 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Completely agree. If someone is vomiting, that is clearly not something they would choose to do. The only caveat I would make is that after vomiting, I would have actively sought out a FA to explain what had happened rather than allow someone to "discover" it. FA's love to repeat the main mantra that they are there "primarily for your safety", but seem to forget that if it is primarily safety, there are other secondary roles which still need to be fulfilled.
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Old Mar 23, 2009, 9:10 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,109

I forgot to mention that, Jim. I thought about it as I was responding but forgot to put it in.........not telling a crew member the restroom was not usable after visiting it was wrong. It should have been brought to their attention what happened so they could decide whether they wanted to close it off or attempt to fix it. Going back to your seat and acting surprised (Not wanting to cause a scene at my seat, I obliged to find out what was up) when they came back to you wasn't the right thing to do. What did you think they were wanting to talk to you about?? As a whole, this post certainly shows lack of professionalism and customer service for CO's flight attendants on this trip and I don't belittle the OP at all but the line where the OP says "to find out what was up" makes me laugh.
Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.
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Old Mar 23, 2009, 1:08 PM
oldtimer oldtimer is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 5

Judge, Jim
Thank you both for your comments, appeciate your input!
To add further clarity, I did attempt contacting FA's with the call FA button more than once, even after vomiting, but as none came I went back to my seat. One of the FA's later admitted they turn call light off when walking by as it is often done by accident.
My surprise was not in why they were looking for me now, but in the demeaner in which she was addressing me now that they found that the sink was blocked, when they woudlnt respond to calls earlier. After all, I did vomit, but it was in the rest room, not cabin areas, and did attempt to get help. I dint need to made a spectacle of, thats what I wondered what was up with.
I have never witnessed FA's ( or anyone in the service industry) address a person in that angry manner and loud tone, especially before any discussion happened, and in a cabin were lights were dimmed and people were attempting to rest.
I do agree ( in retro), that I could have walked around trying to find someone, but at that time, I was sick enogh to just crawl back to my seat and close my eyes, and due to turbulence there were repeated announcements for all passengers to return to seats and buckle down, so I figured FA's werent going to show up anyways.

Your point taken, though, God forbid there's a repeat instance in the future
Thanks again.
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Old Mar 23, 2009, 1:23 PM
oldtimer oldtimer is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 5

Appreciate your comments, and empathy - hopefully you had better luck with FA's on your flight and it wont happen again !
When I returned from my journey I attempted to use the CO customer care contact, to no response. I have since recently written to CO, and am awaiting a response.
My trip is over and done with. Given the probabilitites or being sick on a flight once in 28 years of international flying, it is not me specifically that I would like to bring attention to, but anyone who may be unfortunate enough to encounter such discomforts.
For me personally, I do need an explanation of the humiliation and harassment from the FA and therefore the airline in question, and complete lack of customer service and apathy shown by FA's by admitting to even turm call lights off under false assumptions, and then turning on passengers after the fact when they are inconvenienced in any way. Aksing me 6 hours after the event, in public in a fully awake and lit cabin, if I would throw up all over the place if I got breakfast, was beyond rude! I expect explicit and earnest apology from the airlines, such comments were completely uncalled for and reflects lack of training and even moral fiber of the attendant who should not be in a service role anywhere with that attitude.

Such attitudes affecct us all collectively . European and Asian airlines ( that I have flown) put foremost attention to flight crew behavior and training, among other comforts. We are competing with a world economy - even in that aspect, our airlines should be attempting to meet, if not beat those standards, else the alternate choices continue to become more attractive for all.
Be well, and thanks again !
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Old Mar 23, 2009, 7:50 PM
Silent Bob Silent Bob is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: NY NY
Posts: 510

Not for nothin, but you threw up in a sink, covered it up, and walked away! Yes you pressed the call button and no one came, but as soon as you realized that the sink would not drain, you should have gone to the flight crew to inform them of what happened soon after, not cover it up. That would have saved you some embarrassment. Think for one minute man, Do they know you were sick? If you had informed them maybe they would have used better discrestion. Plus how did they know it was you, exactly? Did the FA see you leave the restroom and check it or did another passenger say something? My guess? Another passenger informed them, preferably someone who went to use the rest room soon after you did or someone who heard you get sick. I agree the FA's attitude could have been more sympathetic to your plight, but come on, you brought it on yourself by trying to literally cover up the situation. I'm thinking if you apply this same situation to other airlines, you would get the same, or possibly worse results. (I have heard tales of people getting quarantined for throwing up on the plane)
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 11:50 PM
oldtimer oldtimer is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 5

Dont want to get verbose about this, but it seems you have turned covering up vomit stains with clean tissue, as "cover up" - whether it's homes, suermakets, airports - whatever - the first thing lcean up crew typically does is thros some absorbent tissue ( a la Bounty ) over it - serves 2 purposes : 1) absorbs liquids to make clean up easier, and 2) covers up to some extent the gross stuff under until appropriate personnel can clean/sanitize it. It was not a big "cover up" activity that I was hpoing ot "get away with".
Plus, the incident was about 3 am est on the flight - lights were dimmed, FA's were out of sight, and because of turbulence, there were repeated announcements fo all passengers to return to seat and buckle up.
To add to it, I was quite sick ( refer to first post).
Putting tissue on the sink was so it would at least absorb liquid, and look cleaner than it would have otherwise.
Thank you for your input though - I guess you have encountered passengers who's motive is to "cover up and get away". That was not the intent.
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Old Mar 26, 2009, 6:16 PM
Silent Bob Silent Bob is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: NY NY
Posts: 510

I've been a janitor sir in my younger days and I've seen my share of spills. And when it comes to vomit, the best thing to do is to clean it up right away as to not cause the sickness of others. Trust me, simply putting paper towels over it wasn't gonna cut it. Now your talkin about a small airplane bathroom, with a small sink that is normally used for washing your hands (among other bathroom neccessities i.e. shaving, primping). What you've done sir, again threw up in the sink, covered it up with paper and walked away. That tissue would definitely NOT have made a difference, it would have made it more disgusting. Imagine cleaning up gobs of paper with chunks of icky stuff in it? Can you imagine that? (heheheh sorry for grossing ya out there folks). Paper towels (especially absorbent ones) are used for absorbing liquid, not chunks of food along with it. And since there were no FA's in site as per your own statement, then another passenger saw fit to turn you in, would be my guess... because per your statement... you felt "obliged" to see what's up, when the FA's approached you.

My point is this, you made a mess, covered it up, got caught, and now you want to blame the FA's for being rude. (Which I agree with you, by your statement, it seems they could have handled it better). But you sir are forgetting the fact that you should have notified them in the beginning, as it could have been handled more discreetely. For get the time and turbulence, and they can't be out of site, where else can they go???
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 11:47 AM
bobo44 bobo44 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 3

Sorry to hear you were ill, having flown with this airline I can not imagine anything worse than feeling unwell esp. if you are alone.

On my flight to EWR last week the lav. was in a filthy state, paper towels and loo roll all over the place etc. nothing to do with me ! As I was emergining from the lav. the FA was coming the other way, I pointed back at the loo at said to her (nicely, in a matter of fact way) that that is was not clean. I was snappily told to find another one! The response should have been 'Oh I'm sorry I'll see to it!' I could see this so called 'rest room' from my seat and judging by people's expressions on opening the door I do not think it was cleaned.

The Continental staff are not only RUDE but very lazy. I swear they try to bait the passengers into a row with them so they can use their silly powers and get people arrested! NEVER fly Continental is now my motto!

Last edited by bobo44; Apr 3, 2010 at 11:49 AM. Reason: mistake
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 7:29 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 745

They disabled the call light. I'm not sure, but that has got to be some kind of safety violation. I think DOT will be interested in that.

They order the passenger to fix their sink. Sorry, completely unacceptable. Guess what might have happened if you somehow hurt yourself fixing their sink, lawsuit against them.

I do agree that you should have gone right to the FLIGHT ATTENDANTs (looked for them, sought them out) when you came out of the toilet, but aside from that, their behavior was absolutely out of line.

You have a DOT complaint here, and a potential lawsuit. I suggest you look into both.
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