Just in time for the West Coast lunch hour, the topic of what to do when a seatmate vomits on you.
I noticed an absolutely disgusting story on Flyertalk about a sick woman who vomited on her seatmate. With the plane still on the ground, the sick woman all of a sudden erupted all over her seatmate, spraying her, her coat, and her shoes.
This was on United and FAs merely offered the woman a few wet paper napkins to clean up. She was also offered an open middle seat in the back, but (graciously, in my opinion) declined so as not to inconvenience other passengers. Seat cushions were not exchanged.
The sick woman spent most of the flight inside the lavatory.
What is Flight Attendant Clean-Up Procedure When Passengers Vomit?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a guide for cabin crew on preventing the spread of disease on commercial aircraft. It urges cabin crew to treat all body fluids (such as diarrhea, vomit, or blood) like they are infectious.
- Take the following actions in areas contaminated with diarrhea, vomit, blood, or other body fluids.
- For hard (nonporous) surfaces such as tray tables, TV monitors, seat arms, windows, and walls: remove any visible contamination and clean and disinfect the area with products approved by your company.
- For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor or seat cushions: remove as much of the contaminant as possible, cover the area with an absorbent substance, and contain the area as much as possible. Remove the absorbent substance and any remaining material, and then clean and disinfect the area with products approved by your company.
Let’s not kid ourselves — sick people board flights all the time. Often it is unavoidable (like trying to get home to better nurse sickness).
I am squeamish about vomit. While it would always depend on how fast I needed to get to my destination, I do not know that I could stand sitting on a flight wallowing in the stench of vomit.
Flight Attendants love to say “we are here primarily for your safety” but it seems to me they define safety very narrowly. The spreading of disease qualifies as a huge safety issue in my opinion and while I understand perfectly well why FAs would be reluctant to put their own health at risk by cleaning up contagious fluid, that IS there job…or at least to find someone to do it while still on the ground.
The story I reference at the start has a sad ending. The sick passengers said nothing after the accident but eventually the victim asked the sick passenger that she pay for her dry cleaning and shoe cleaning. The sick woman agreed and provided a phone number. The number was dead…
A shocking lack of common decency and personal responsibility. Some have suggested that she go after United for her cleaning bill or even sue United for the inappropriate way this was handled. I tend to doubt either approach is the right one, but I do know I will be taking a closer look at my seatmate next time I fly for signs of sickness…