LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Janet Masters had just wrapped up her trip to Hawaii to celebrate her wedding anniversary. She said she had a great time until she boarded a United Airlines flight on her way home.
After settling into her seat, she found a blanket in the seat pocket in front of her covering a barf bag filled to the brim with vomit spilling out of the bag.
“Here’s someone’s bodily fluids that I’m being exposed to,” Masters said.
While handing the barf bag to a flight attendant, Masters said the vomit spilled onto her and her husband’s clothes.
“Smelling that smell on us and around us was just totally, totally disgusting,” she said.
Masters is not alone. Scott Shirley and his wife had a similar experience. They said they found their backpack sitting on vomit on their United flight in April.
“She put it close to her face. She goes: Oh, my God! This is throw-up,” Shirley said.
Former flight attendant Shawn Kathleen, who runs PassengerShaming.com, said he has seen it all.
People post photos of gross stuff left behind on planes, including dirty diapers, men’s underwear, banana peels, gum, even false teeth
There are also images of passengers clipping toenails, drying their shoes with the air vent and stick their bare feet everywhere.
Kathleen said: “It’s so yikes, it’s so beyond yikes. There was a gentleman treating his warts with Compound W.”
So what can you do if you run into unsanitary conditions on a flight?
“Getting a refund of your ticket price, I think, would be a reasonable result,” said consumer attorney Stuart Talley.
But it is not that simple. Talley said the airlines’ contract of carriage covers lost baggage or delays, not on-board cleanliness.
Masters said she tried but could not get United Airlines to address her complaint.
When CBS reached out to the air carrier on Masters’ behalf, a spokesperson apologized and admitted that “Our cleaners apparently failed to clean all of the seatback pockets.”
After CBS got involved, the airline offered Masters and her husband a $300 credit toward a future flight.
But she said she is not sure if she will use the credit. “I’ve lost a lot of faith and trust with the airline,” she said.
Flight attendants are trained and have cleaning kits for any cleaning need on a flight, according to United Airlines.
Masters said the flight attendants did offer to move them, but it didn’t matter much because the vomit stench remained on their clothes throughout the entire flight.