The Lingering Aroma Of Vomit

October 30, 2007

in Illness/Medical Stories

Once when I was flying to New York from Phoenix, I developed the stomach flu. After a nauseating one and a half hours into the flight, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to resort to the white puke bag (at the time I thought I was being generous instead of climbing over people and risk losing my cookies on the floor, or worse yet the people in the aisle seats). Well, I quickly filled the bag and another one at that. I rang the bell for the stewardess to have her throw it away. When I showed her the bag, I was astonished by her reaction. I figured, “Hey, they deal with sort of thing all the time.” But no, she turned her nose at me and told me to put it under the seat! I was shocked. Not only did the people next to me have to deal with the sound of my retching, but now they (and I) had to deal with the faint but lingering smell of puke from the bag and the fact that it would be under the seat for the rest of the four and a half hour flight.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

anonymous October 12, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Handling a persons "puke" is not part of a F.A. job descritpion. Take it yourself to the bathroom


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 9:06 am

The bag has "Give to attendant for disposal." printed right on it, dillweed.


Belleweather April 2, 2009 at 10:37 am

Sorry to read you got Leona Helmsley for a FA. If she can't handle it, she should quit.


Please April 2, 2009 at 11:15 am

Why didn't you just get up and dispose of it yourself…and while you were at it – you could've stayed in the bathroom for the flight. I know because I've been sick on a flight and the attendants were very helpful – they gave me cool cloths, let me pace in the little kitchen area in the back of the plane, and let me hoard one of the bathrooms for as long as I needed it. They are FAs, not your mommy.


Gina M November 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm

The kitchen area is the worst possible place you could be if you're sick with a stomach virus. It's likely you infected several people on that flight. Bottom line: Don't fly when you're sick. Period. For the sake of your own health and the health of others.


James November 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

It sounded like this passenger had the bug develop quickly – I've seen that happen, where one goes from healthy to a vomiting/diarrhea mess in under an hour. It is not a lot of fun when that happens.

Various forms of food poisoning also can hit very quickly.

What do you suggest someone do in those circumstances? Insist the plane immediately land?


Jean Ely April 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm

This oogy story reminds me of the flight I took in the '80s between Calcutta and Delhi on Indian Airlines– not Air India, but the domestic airline. The flight was packed with well-dressed Indian businessman types. One of them felt sick, grabbed for a bag– and there weren't any! The airline didn't provide them! Poor guy whoopsed all over his expensive suit. Adding insult to injury, what did the FA bring for him to clean himself? A pile of old newspapers!

I saw him later in the airport, and the front of his suit was completely demolished, all wet & sticky looking.

Poor guy.


Ira Levin April 2, 2009 at 2:12 pm

That's disgusting. It sucks to be sick on an airplane, but I have to agree with the first commenter. Dispose of your own waste.


Alex April 2, 2009 at 9:14 pm

No doubt the FA was an ass, but if I was you I would've taken those vomit bags to the bathroom – and stayed there. I've been sick on a flight, I know it really sucks and is very uncomfortable, but the FAs will clear a bathroom for you. They let me sit in their little take-off seat for half the flight so I could stay near the bathroom, but not hog it.


Debi April 3, 2009 at 2:28 am

Announcement to future retchers…1. bother your fellow passengers to get up and live in the bathroom, they prefer it to you filling bags next to them.

2.If you must use a puke bag on your way to the bathroom ask FA for a trash bag to dispose of it, do not expect them to handle your hazmat human waste with bare hands.


r.d. April 4, 2009 at 3:44 am

I don't get it. Eons ago I flew from Wash D.C. to SFO on TWA. I knew arriving at the airport that I was sick (stomach virus) and would be needing the bathroom quite frequently so I asked to change my seat to the very last row of the plane. No problem. And the FAs were wonderful, bringing me soup and crackers, and doing their best to keep the closest bathroom clear. Why not move to where you will not bother people in the first place? (assuming you can)


Gina M November 4, 2012 at 3:50 pm

OR, why not stay home and not risk infecting other passengers!


Deelee April 6, 2009 at 11:45 am


Why in the hell would you knowingly get on an airplane when you know full well you are sick with a virus???


debbie eskew April 9, 2009 at 3:56 am

Thats your bodily fluid, take care of it yourself and throw it in the bathroom. Flight Attendants serve drinks and food, do you really want them to handle things that can possibly make the whole plane full of people sick? It's not their job to take that bag from you, it goes in the bathroom.


Rob April 25, 2009 at 7:01 pm

So you puked in a bag and handed it to somebody?

It doesn't work like that in a hospital, why would it work like that on a plane?

FA's are not waiters/waitresses.

Chances are they have a better education than you do.

Unless you were in a coma, it's unlikely you would find one to take your gift.

Next time, go dump it in the toilet yourself. You still had legs, you could still talk, walk, and even remember things.

I'm easy. If an FA wants to sell me a bottle of whisky (glass even) go right ahead. If I suspect those hands have touched your puke bag, not so good.


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