Usually I don’t like to write stories about airline incidents that involve individuals who may have serious issues. I’m making a (slight) exception here:
- I’ve had no fewer than a dozen readers email or message me to ask if I can cover this
- I’m not going to post the pictures of the guy that are out there
- This has turned into a really big thing at EVA Air, and the unions have even gotten involved; apparently EVA Air isn’t taking the viewpoint of the flight attendants seriously, which is why they’ve gone public
EVA Air’s most demanding passenger?
I haven’t found any news stories in English on this, so I’m going off translations from others here. An American man was flying from Seattle to Taipei, and connecting to Bangkok (no comment on the fact that he consistently seems to fly to Bangkok). Apparently this man travels to Thailand frequently, and has had many write-ups by EVA Air employees over his behavior.
The man was boarded in a wheelchair, and was apparently the last to board, so the crew didn’t have much time to assess his situation.
For those who speak the language, here’s a flight attendant news conference about what happened:
Here’s what apparently happened, based on a summary by FlyerTalk member hayzel7773:
- 2hr30min into the flight, the passenger said he needed to use the business class bathroom (he said he couldn’t fit into the economy bathroom)
- The crew accommodated him, and three flight attendants as well as the purser assisted him to the bathroom
- A minute after entering the lavatory, the passenger pushed the call button; when the flight attendant opened the door, his genitals were exposed, but his underwear was still on in the back; he told them they needed to help him take off his underwear, or he’d just go in them
- He sat down and spread his legs, exposing his genitals
- They tried to close the door, but he objected, claiming he was having shortness of breath from claustrophobia and that they need to keep it open; the crew refused, but kept the door unlocked
- 15 minutes later he said he was done, and they opened the door to find him still sitting there with his pants at his ankles; “I’m done, you can wipe my butt now.”
- The flight attendant objected, and then he berated her, saying she promised to do it, and since she promised she needed to do it or he would just sit on the toilet for the rest of the flight
- The crew obliged, realizing they can’t just leave him there the whole flight, so they threw a blanket in front of him, which he refused; the purser wiped, while the other flight attendants held his front
- While the purser wiped he allegedly says “mmmmmm, deeper, deeper”
- The purser ended up having to wipe on three separate occasions, as the guy claimed she didn’t do it correctly; he said “you better have wiped me clean”
- Eventually the flight attendants just pulled his pants up, even though he insisted they do it again, and he threatened to faint if she didn’t
- The passenger was brought back to his seat, but later in the flight he had to go #2 again, so a different group of flight attendants did the same
Also revealed is some of this guy’s history with EVA Air:
- He also flew from Los Angeles to Bangkok via Taipei in May 2018, where he made a similar request, but flight attendants refused; so he went #2 in his seat, and apparently the whole cabin smelled terrible for the rest of the flight
- He peed himself on another flight
- On another flight he asked a crew member to clean and change his diaper; they refused, so his diaper overflowed
- On another flight he threatened to faint and make the crew’s life worse if they didn’t help him
- On another flight, he spilled juice in his crotch area and demanded the crew wipe it; they gave him napkins to do it, but he said “you can do better”
The union is demanding the following:
- The airline to help the flight attendant pursue legal remedies against the passenger
- Allow time off for the flight attendants involved (based on the video they seem to be really disturbed by all of this, as they’re crying, etc.)
- Blacklist the passenger, and improve the procedure for getting passengers blacklisted
- Improve wheelchair handling so that something like this doesn’t happen again
My take on all of this
Ummm, holy $hit. Like, actually.
Obviously we don’t know both sides of the story. We haven’t heard from the guy, and it’s possible there was something “lost in translation” here (either due to a language or culture barrier).
I say that to give the guy the slight benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume he was expoing his genitals because it’s only natural to take your underwear off if you’re sitting on the toilet. And let’s assume the “deeper, deeper” was an actual statement of wiping preferences, rather than something he found enjoyable or arousing.
So even taking those things out of the picture:
- He has had repeated incidents with the airline
- Based on the flight attendant reports, it sure seems like he’s incredibly manipulative in how he approaches this stuff
But even taking those things out of the equation, the bigger problem is that it simply isn’t the responsibility of flight attendants to wipe a passenger’s butt, no matter what.
EVA Air has a webpage about the services they provide passengers who require special assistance, and it’s pretty comprehensive. For example, they make it clear that they help transport passengers between the aircraft seat and toilet, but they also make it clear that they can’t provide assistance within the restroom or assistance at the seat with defecation and/or urination functions.
If you’re someone who needs assistance inside the lavatory, or other accommodations, then you need to travel with someone who can help take care of you.
So while we don’t know what the guy’s motives are — does he just like bossing people around, does he like the “attention” from the young, pretty Asian flight attendants, or does he have some sort of butt-wiping fetish — it’s clear that no matter what, his expectations of the crew were unreasonable.
This guy seems to take a lot of longhaul flights, and I hope EVA Air takes action so this doesn’t happen to their crews again, whether that comes in the form of them banning the guy, or requiring that he travel with a caretaker.
What’s your take on this situation?