Is it standard procedure for a flight attendant to force open a toilet occupied by a passenger if the plane is about to land? Under what circumstances has the flight attendant a right to do this?
Thanks,Caught with My Pants Down
Dear Caught with My Pants Down,
I’m so sorry to hear you were caught with your pants down. I’m also sorry that a flight attendant had to see you that way. I’m sure it was embarrassing for both of you. On my flight from New York to Dallas last week I caught two passengers in the same position, but that’s just because they forgot to lock the door, not because I forced the thing open. So please, people, please, I beg you, please do not forget to switch that little sign from vacant to occupied. That way we won’t have to avoid eye contact the rest of the flight.
As for forcing a locked door open, it does not happen often. In fact I’ve only had to do it twice in my career and I’ve been flying for fourteen years. Once, not too long ago, I did it when I heard a young child yelling, “help, help, help!” because she couldn’t figure out how to unlock the lavatory door and another time when, seconds before departure, the passenger who had locked himself inside ignored our pleas to return to his seat.
“Sir, you need to come out! We can not depart until you take your seat!” my coworker cried, banging her fists on the accordion door. No answer. Just silence. Complete silence.
I gave it a try – knock, knock, knock! “Sir, are you okay in there?” Still no response.
“We’re coming in,” my coworker yelled, and two seconds later the door was pushed open. Startled, the man with the needle stuck in his arm jumped, causing it to pop out and blood to spurt all over the floor. The airplane was immediately taken out of service.