Yes, you read that right. The incident, which occurred several days ago has made headlines across Taiwan and a major flight attendants union has called on Eva Air to take more action to protect its members, including permanently banning the passenger involved. The incident has also raised questions about Eva Air’s recruitment policies with allegations that the all-female crew felt obliged to do what the male passenger asked them to do.
The drama unfolded on a recent Eva Air flight between Los Angeles to Taipei – a 14-hour flight where it’s probably safe to say that every passenger is going to need to go to the toilet at least once. One of those passengers was a disabled American man who had already demanded to have several seats on his own when he first boarded the flight. That’s a relatively normal request but about two hours into the flight, things took a bit of a turn.
At this point, the man is said to have asked cabin crew to help him go to the toilet. It took around three crew members to help the man to a toilet – according to some sources he had to be taken to a Business Class toilet despite being sat in Economy because he couldn’t fit into the smaller lavatories at the back of the plane. So far, so normal…
Then the man pressed the emergency call button – the flight attendants opened the lavatory door and found the man had his pants and underwear halfway down his legs. The man is then said to have asked the flight attendants to pull his underwear all the way down, citing a hand injury that prevented him from doing so.
“As a flight attendant, my duty is not to help you take off your underwear,” the crew member is reported as saying by Taiwan’s popular Apple Daily News.
In the end, though the flight attendant acquiesced to the man’s demands and initially went to cover his groin with a blanket before pulling the underwear down – a solution that the man refused. To make matters worse, the man then demanded the door be left open because he would otherwise suffer a panic attack.
“You can come in and wipe my ass,” the same newspaper’s quotes the man as saying to the flight attendant once he had finished. Again, the flight attendants refused but eventually relented and helped the man clean himself. And even that wasn’t good enough for the man – one source suggests the man demanded the flight attendant apply more pressure when wiping.
Unsurprisingly the flight attendant was left traumatised by the way she had been treated and what she had been expected to do.
And here’s where things get really strange. One arrival in Taipei, wheelchair assistance came to help the man from the plane – they even asked him if he needed to go to the toilet and if he needed any help. Apparently, the man said he didn’t require assistance to go to the toilet.
At a press conference held yesterday, the Taoyuan City Air Service Professional Trade Union said what had happened has caused public outrage and has shaken the service industry in the country. Flight attendants are now demanding that the airline takes steps to better protect them from predatory passengers.
And what has really upset the union is that this isn’t the first time the same man has behaved in this way onboard Eva Air flights. On one occasion, the man is alleged to have defecated himself while in a passenger seat and then refused to clean himself up, another time, he apparently deliberately spilt juice on his crotch and insisted flight attendants should dab the area dry. These stories appear to just be the tip of the iceberg.
The question, of course, is what does someone have to do in order to be blacklisted on Eva Air?
This is a pretty disgusting case and on the face of it, it sure seems like the man was deliberately taking advantage of the flight attendants. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of home carers and nurses who have to do similar things every day but these flight attendants definitely didn’t sign up for this and shouldn’t have been expected to do what they did.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.