Tue, Jan 22, 2019 - Page 2 News List

EVA crew backed in toilet furor

RIGHT TO REFUSE?A flight attendant says EVA Airways was at first indifferent to her plight of being asked to wipe the behind of a physically challenged male passenger

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A flight attendant, front center, at a news conference organized by the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union yesterday, recounts how she was asked to wipe the behind of a male passenger during a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

The Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union yesterday asked EVA Airways Corp to take action against a male passenger who, after using the toilet during a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei on Saturday, asked a flight attendant to remove his underpants and wipe his behind.

The flight attendant, surnamed Kuo (郭), who posted her story and photographs from the flight on Facebook, which were later reported by local media, spoke in detail about the experience at a news conference held by the union yesterday afternoon.

The passenger, who was the last passenger to board and was in a wheelchair, was about four times as big as Kuo, she said.

About two-and-a-half hours after takeoff, the passenger requested to use the business-class lavatory, as the one in economy was not large enough, she said, adding that he asked the flight attendants to lift him onto the toilet, citing a hand injury.

Kuo said she and two other flight attendants helped him into the lavatory and instructed him to push the call bell when finished.

However, the call bell sounded after less than a minute, and the man told Kuo to take off his underpants or he would soil himself, she said.

She tried to drape a blanket over the lavatory opening, to give him privacy from the other passengers, but the man knocked away her hand and the blanket, repeating his request, Kuo said.

“What was I supposed to do? I’m the deputy cabin chief and couldn’t possibly ask my team members to do the task instead, so I reached around his waist to help him remove his underpants,” Kuo said, adding that she tried not to cry.

Kuo said the man wanted her to leave the lavatory door ajar while he was on the toilet, saying he had trouble breathing, but she refused.

About 10 to 15 minutes later, the man, with his penis exposed, asked Kuo to come in and wipe him, she said.

“I refused, but he began yelling at me, claiming I had agreed to wipe him, even though I denied ever making such a promise. He said that, in any case, somebody had to wipe him, unless the airline planned to leave him in the lavatory like that,” she said.

Kuo said she got the cabin chief to wipe him instead.

“While the cabin chief was cleaning him, he kept making noises: ‘Um, um, deeper, deeper.’ He even questioned whether the cabin chief had wiped him thoroughly, saying: ‘You’d better make sure that it’s clean,” Kuo added. “He then told me to put his underpants back on him — I will never forget that scene.”

The airline was indifferent to her experience, asking how photographs had been leaked instead of expressing any sympathy for her, she said.

Union members have reported that the man has flown on EVA Air several times since May and made the same request of other crew members, the union said.

When his request was denied on a previous flight, he defecated on his seat, the union added.

Following passenger complaints, the airline blamed crew members for not assisting the passenger, rather than supporting them in denying such a request, it said.

EVA Air said in a statement that it would clarify its understanding of the passenger’s physical limitations, adding that it is consulting a US attorney about regulations that might require physically challenged passengers to be accompanied by a caretaker on flights.

The company said it would back flight attendants who refuse similar demands and support Kuo if she wanted to file a lawsuit against the man.

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