Lavatory Police

June 23, 2010

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

In 2004 we were traveling from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale on American Airlines; my wife, my 4 year old son, and my mom and dad. We had the 3rd row in coach (5 of the six seats across).

There was a business class on this flight with 5 rows of 2 seats, and a curtain separating the classes (only 3 people were in that area).

About 45 minutes after takeoff, my son had to pee. I looked to the back where the lavatories were for our class and there were 5 people lined up. I looked forward and there was no line, so I took my son to the front “business class” lav. He peed, then I brought him back to the seat and I went to do my business and upon my return, the FA rudely said “that lavatory is not for you, you are in coach and didn’t pay for the use of that lavatory, it’s for business class only.” I replied OK, but my 4 year old had to pee and wasn’t able to wait in line, and I went because I was already there.

The FA then said…”repeat after me… I WILL NOT USE THE FIRST CLASS LAVATORY.”

I said, “you are kidding right?”

“No sir… repeat after me… I WILL NOT USE THE FIRST CLASS LAVATORY.”

I said “no,” and her response was “I will have to notify the captain.”

My response was “I hope he would have more important things to do than be the lavatory police on this plane.”

A while later my wife went to the rear lav and it was disgusting, smell, paper on the floor, etc. She informed the nearest FA (same one) and was told “FA’s are on this plane to keep you safe and prevent people from trying to takeover the plane, like 911, and keeping you alive, we are not here as your servants or cleaning people” then walked away.

Again, my son had to pee so I walked him up front, and again the FA came back to our seats and told me that TSA would be waiting to arrest me when we land for disobeying the FA.

We landed, I saw the FA point me out to the pilot, who then pointed me out to the TSA folks at the door. The pilot had a “heated discussion” with the FA, and waved off the TSA folks.

We waited in the gate area for the pilot, and I apologized for causing a problem and that I understood, but a 4 year old can’t wait in line. He apologized for the FA’s attitude in both situations.

I also told him that at the time I was a Computer Systems Integrator working for the TSA and was prepared to pull out my ID if necessary and we both had a good laugh.

Bottom line, I wrote to AA and explained in detail, got their standard apology letter, then a call from HR explaining that the FA had been reprimanded and suspended for mentioning 911 on the flight.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Dina June 23, 2010 at 6:56 pm

If I'm not mistaken, though, it is a regulation on US flights that passengers only use the lavs in the section they're ticketed in… yeah, it sucks, but it's not like the FA was *completely* on a power trip here. (Although the "repeat after me" stuff was a bit much.) She just didn't want it to be her ass if someone did complain.


Hugh June 23, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Not sure whether it's law or regulation, but even if it is, the FA could have made an exeption for a 4 year old, and even if she said something to the man, she could have said in in a less condescending manner. I travel a fair amount for work, and the overwhelming number of FAs are hard working, nice, helpful people…but there is a small percentage, like this one, who really shouldn't be dealing with people, and have some overwhelming sense of a power trip or something. I thinnk this gentleman handled the situation in the best way possible, better than I think I would have…also, kudos to the pilot for using some sense.


Dina June 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

If it is a federal regulation (which was what the FAs announced last time I flew to the States), then I'd imagine they have to be pretty rigid. I'm not saying it doesn't suck, but I've been in the position of enforcing crappy regulations before and you really can't win!


RsT May 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm

There is no regulation regarding use of lavatories in different sections of an airplane. What you are referring to is that you may not form a line at the front lavatory because they don't want a group of people near the cockpit door.


Barbara June 24, 2010 at 4:32 am

Why couldn't the 4-year-old kid just wait his turn like everybody else? Rules and regulations apply to everybody, including children. Nobody wants to wait in line, but sometimes you have no choice. The flight attendant was rude, but she was perfectly correct to state that you and your son should not be using that lavatory because you didn't pay for it.


Jim June 29, 2010 at 1:05 am

It's just a 4 year old kid!


Bob July 1, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Are you kidding me? didn't pay for it ? give me a break and try not to be such a classless tool. A four year old kid will pee on you and your seat and any carry on you might have nearby and it will not matter to him so perhaps you should thank the kids dad for using common sense. And as far as that goes it sounds like the F.A. as well as you could use a dose of common sense.


Rich October 15, 2010 at 12:21 am

You have got to be kidding me. You are obviously not a parent. A 4 year old is not typically going to give you the 30 to 40 minutes warning it takes to wait in that line. And as far as I know (and I travel alot) the only federal rule on lavatories is that you can not form a line at the front of the plane.


rerere June 24, 2010 at 4:40 am

The pilot did an outstanding job in this situation. And I know you aren't supposed to go to the bathroom in first if you're in coach, but come on, give a exception for a 4 year old.


Luna August 11, 2015 at 12:05 am

I was flying with my mom once (I was 14) and they said we couldn't use 1st class. That's perfectly fine. A bit later I see a 1st class passenger get up from his seat and make his way to the back where we where, and he goes and uses the coach bathroom.


Jodi June 24, 2010 at 4:40 am

I agree, an exception should be made for small children, and 4 is a small child. Barb.. you must not have children or nieces/nephews… 4 year olds wait until the last moment to tell you they have to go..


Josh June 24, 2010 at 6:30 am

I agree. With my 4 year-old, I'm lucky if I have 60 seconds warning before he wets himself. Give a kid a break.


ps June 24, 2010 at 7:50 am

I know rules are rules but c'mon, a four year old has to go. We all know what the result could be if he was not "accommodated" quickly. I think the pilot's intervention was appropo for the situation.


Jody June 24, 2010 at 9:18 am

I'm not a parent, but even I know that a 4-year-old can't "hold it" like an adult can. The FA should have made an exception for this kid — and definitely should not have been so rude. Kudos to the OP for handling the situation so well. Kudos also to the pilot for being sensible and the airline for disciplining the FA.


Everett Sandoval June 24, 2010 at 9:26 am

Good story.


david June 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

i'm pretty sure everyone understands and agrees that a 4year old should be allowed to use the bathroom since the chances are they wont be able to wait in the line, even though on many flights i have been on if people see small kids waiting to go to the bathroom they let them go first (mainly Singapore Airlines and asian based airlines)

however, you should have used the one for your class

just curious though, why would they tell you what and even if they repremanded the FA, most professional and/or large companys wont do that for many reasons, privacy, ethical, etc they just dont do that

technically you could have been arrested even though in reality it is stupid, arrested for fighting with the FA


Tom June 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I fly American and many other airlines often. I usually sit in coach, as close to the front as possible. I ALWAYS use the first class lav because it is closer to my seat and I have NEVER been told not to use it by a FA. On a recent Delta flight I had to wait for the first class lav and I had a great conversation with the FA that was working first class. She obviously had no issue with me being up there. I don't want to say your story is not true, but I have some serious doubts. And how many FA's would mention 9/11? I may have to call you on this one.


rerere June 25, 2010 at 5:41 am

Agree 100%! I was once on a Delta flight, and I used the first class bathroom. While I was up there, I struck a conversation with the flight attendents to. They had no problem with me up there.


Jim June 25, 2010 at 9:58 am

I get a kick out of flight attendant's deslusion of grandeur. Yes, they are there for our safety. But, their training in CPR is similar to that which a teenage lifeguard receives. Their training in defense is similar to that which women receive at the local community center, etc…

The qualifications for a flight attendant are minimal. No college degree, no extensive, specialized training. (yes, I know the qualifications, I used to work for the airlines). This is not brain surgery. Don't be upset that you are not compensated as such. Don't be upset that we advise you that the bathroom is unclean.

Yes, they are there for our safety. But, 99% of the time, there will not be a need for their CPR, or karate chops. 99% of the time, they will be solving seat disputes, bringing our beverages, and being the "face" of the airline.

The attitude of the surly, frumpy, unhappy flight attendant, is adding to the public's general disgust with flying. And, is one of the reasons why the airlines are losing so many customers.

The flight attendants need to get in the mode of safety first, but when that is not needed, (99% of the time)…then service is what they should provide next.


Tom June 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I fly a lot, and I have flown a lot for many years. I have never had FA, not even once, be rude or have any "delusion of grandeur." Someday you may need one of these FA's to give you CPR or to direct you to an exit in a smoke-filled cabin. I bet if that ever happens you would change your tune.

I was on a Delta flight several years ago where an FA had to use an AED on a guy who had a heart attack. She confidently did what she was trained to do right there in the aisle and she saved the guy's life. Guess what? I never got my Coke and snack on that trip, and I didn't mind a bit. I was even delayed several hours because we had to divert to another city. So what! The dude was alive! Thanks to a FA who had the training of a teenage lifeguard. She was a hero that day.


Alex June 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I'm not entirely convinced your 4 yr needed special treatment, sir, but whatever, I'm sure he'll grow up with a strong bladder as well as a sense of entitlement and that the rules don't apply to him. That being said, YOU had no business returning him to the seat and THEN returning yourself to the business class lavatory.

You, sir, are the person that pisses me off as a frequent business traveler. You do understand that business class is its own section of the cabin, lavatory included, because we PAID for it, and YOU paid for coach travel for you and your kid, right? I fly business a lot for work and they always make an announcement that you are to use the lavatory in YOUR CABIN. That is why there is a curtain and it is kept drawn. That is the rule – you pay more, you get a cleaner and more accessible lavatory. You want that, too? You fork over for business class. In an emergency it will be forgiven, but because it was more convenient for you and your kid? No. I can understand why the FA was annoyed. She took it too far, but she wasn't wrong about where you needed to pee.


Hugh June 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Relax Alex, this is a dad of a 4 year old, not Osama Bin Laden. I think we all agree that he should try to use the regular bathroom, but if there's a line and you have a 4 year old ready to wet themselves, what should he do? It seems according to you, he should have let the child wet himself. The FA may have been correct in what she said, but how she said it and her attitude were wrong. I fly First class often…not because I have to, but because I can afford it…I'm not upset if the "lepers, peasants, and commoners" use the bathroom, because quite frankly, I'm not that petty, evidently you are.


Tom June 25, 2010 at 4:29 pm



ps June 28, 2010 at 2:46 pm

hey ya never know… he may have paid more for his ticket than you did… and as you are an entitled one, did YOU pay for it or did your firm? I think giving the little one a pass was a good preventive measure to keep his blatter output from spilling in the aisle.


Davey Shitepant July 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Alex, If I ever have an urgent need to "go" and there is a line for us "commoners" I will absolutely observe the rules and I will not use the lavatory reserved for you upper class folks. No, instead I will come directly to your seat and take a giant dump on your lap and then you will be able to rest easy in the knowledge that some peasant from coach did not dirty up the exclusive first class loo. Happy travels jerkoff.


Katherine June 25, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Alex, really? Did YOU fork over the money to fly business class? Or did your job fork it over. The OP probably spent more of his own money to fly than you actually did. Get off your high horse…. Kudos to you, Hugh!


Gerard June 26, 2010 at 12:11 pm

A cleaner lavatory , listen to yourself ….. I didnt know there was clean standards of lav . Just clean as far as I an concerned . You sound like your on a ego trip mate .

Have you any children ? ….. I tell you something else . If my kid needs to do her business , and there is a que , she cant wait cuz kids dont have that level of control . If I was instructed not to use the business class bog , and my kid couldnt wait cuz the "dirty toilets" are busy , I would let her crap on the floor . Imagine the reaction then .

Get off your high horse and get back in touch with reality . there is a name for people like you , but I cant type that here .

Get over it

I happen to know , I am an engineer for the airlines .


gerard June 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm

One other point ….. why should a small child have to use a dirty crapper at all .


Gerard June 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

And another thing ….. when one of you business types drop your glass's down the bog , who do you think has to go get it .

Ever thought of that . I'll tell you who , its the engineer . Cuz so much stuff needs to come apart .

Now , I hear your attitude Alex . Go stick you own down your nice clean toilet . Hope it rotts off !!!


Anonymous June 28, 2010 at 7:43 am

To ALEX and those like minded individuals —99% of you business travelers did not pay for the "privilage" to be in Business or First. Your COMPANY did. Chances are you have never shelled a dime for your travel in the past 5 years. I am so sick of these snobby business people that think they own the skies when they haven't shelled out one cent of their own money on that travel. I travel First Class by choice and I pay for it. But you won't see me being an ass to other travelers or snubbing my nose to a four year old that can't hold it.


Jim June 28, 2010 at 8:04 am

I hate snot nosed people too.

Most flights of a business traveller are paid for by their respective companies. But, I am the individual that spends many hours in flight. And, I am the one that chooses which airlines to fly.

I'm sure most of us try to be good stewards of our expense accounts. But, the airlines should make some accomodations to their frequent fliers, etc….because, if they don't I can use that as justification to fly with someone different, even if it does cost a little extra.

So I do believe frequent fliers should have some extra perks… As a result of my patronage, my company may spend tens of thousands of dollars with a particular airline in one year. However, the once or twice a year vacation traveller only spend a few thousand….so, who should be catered to? Who is the more valued customer?

I think anyone should be able to use any bathroom on the plane…there are only a limited number. But, the business traveller should enjoy some extra perks, free drinks, free bag check, etc…. Just as a way for the airline to show their appreciation of their patronage


ps July 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

he may be a wannabe.. the guy waiting for a bump up that carries 11 bags on and puts his load in the overhead by row 10 while he sits in row 30… self absorbed general jerk who maybe gets a few times a year road trip and then thinks he's god on his way to a goober sales convention…he hasnt posted back so we'll see…


david July 1, 2010 at 7:03 pm

yeah but ever thought that mayb they do some important work and even though that the person doesn't pay for the ticket they get those seats because of their work ethic and contribution to the company leading to positive efforts and by allowing them to be more relaxed would make them happier, better ability to work effectively and productively and bring in profit for the company? they prob work alot harder and make difficult decisions and work after hours


ron July 2, 2010 at 5:10 am

In my experience, a person with an attitude such as that which Alex displayed will not have a higher standard of work ethic; rather, the sense of self-entitlement inevitably leads to a lack of work ethic, let alone productivity. I don't think your rationalization will apply to him.


guest April 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I personally don't care if he's the Pope. He's definitely an a$$ so that tells me all I need to know. Someone's job, important or not, doesn't make them better than anyone else.


Laura June 30, 2010 at 3:16 am

It would have been funnier if you just let the 4 year old pee its pants in coach


memee June 30, 2010 at 7:40 am

So Alex, what company do you work for? I want to make sure I never become a customer, who in the long run is paying for all your business class travel, because those costs are passed onto the consumer. You are a pompous arrogant jek and I hope somewhere, sometime you are forced to be incontinent. My God, a 4 year old!


Debbie June 30, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I don't have a problem with the 4 year old using the first class bathroom…..but I have a big problem with the dad going back up there. Why did you feel you were better then everyone who were waiting for there turn for the bathroom in the cabin that they were seated? It just amazes me that you felt so entitled when everyone else waited there turn. The people in first class pay for extra's and that bathroom is one of them, that is why that curtain is between coach and first class.


Jennifer July 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Um, maybe it would have been funnier for the (possibly sadistic) adults but most 4 yr olds would be horrified to wet themselves surrounded by strangers. That just doesn't strike me as funny at all.


Jennifer July 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Oh- and "he" would be "his" pants. A child is not an "it".


jennifer July 1, 2010 at 6:53 pm

correction- pee not "be".


Josepeth July 18, 2010 at 9:40 am

As a father I am constantly asking my 5 year old whenever we travel or go anywhere if she has to 'go'. I am not sure why you have to wait for your child to tell you and then make a scene so your child can have special treatment versus waiting in line with everyone else when it can be simply avoided by you or your wife asking your child in advance. Also your comments about threatening to pull out your TSA badge to get out of following the rules is just as bad as the FA speaking with the pilot to get the rules enforced.


HGDG July 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I doubt that you received any communication from their HR department. HR matters are confidential, and considering the flight attendants are unionized with strong work rules that makes it even more unlikely.


Amelia Kelly March 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm

1. It might not be enforced as much on intra-US flights, but in the airlines I've flown for we've been directed to ensure pax use the lavs in the cabin they are ticketed in. Not our rule, it's a US govt one.

2. The dad could have asked nicely to the people waiting if they would mind letting the kid go in front. You'd be surprised how many people would agree, a kid is a kid.

3. The FA was a bit rude but correct. (Aside from the "repeat after me" stupidity) But he should not have gone the second time… he knew he was not supposed to and there would have been time to ask the kid if he needed to go.


Kyle April 6, 2012 at 12:58 am

It's funny how most of the posts who tell Alex who he really is gets negative votes.

Has humanity really gone that far down the crapper?


Substantial May 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm

AA would NOT have told the author what specific disciplinary action was taken against the FA, certainly not have said that she was suspended. At most they would have said that "appropriate action was taken", something along those lines. When there's that sort of BS in a story it's wise to suspect anything else that's written in one of these tales.


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