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First class seat or bathroom? Man upset after sitting on urine-soaked seat during flight

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JOHNSTON, Iowa -- An Iowa man is upset with American Airlines after he apparently sat on a urine-soaked seat during a recent flight.

Mike Feinberg, a sales representative for a medical supplies company, was on an American Airlines flight on Jan. 12 when he started to feel uncomfortable.

Feinberg asked himself, "What is this feeling?"  And then realized, "Oh, I'm wet." By this time, Feinberg had been sitting in his first class seat for about an hour.

"I turn to the gentleman next to me... and I ask, 'Is your seat wet?'  And he goes, 'No.'  And I said, 'Mine is,'" Feinberg told WHO-TV.

It didn't take long for Feinberg to realize why his pants were wet.

"So, I just kind of reach down between my seat to see what's going on, and I go, 'It's urine,'" Feinberg said.

Feinberg, whose pants were soaked, told a flight attendant who offered him blankets and a plastic bag to sit on. She told him that an older passenger on a previous flight appeared to have trouble making it to the restroom and "must have missed once."

When he reached the gate three hours later, an American Airlines employee provided Feinberg a shower and a pair of pajamas. He was also given a $200 voucher valid for a future flight.

While Feinberg characterizes the pajamas and voucher as "an insult," he said the bigger issue is how American Airlines cleans its planes between flights and how the airline handles bio-hazardous waste.

"I don't know who was sitting there before.  He could have been the nicest guy in the world, but could have Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, could have had Ebola.  I don't know what the guy had," he said.

When Feinberg asked, American Airlines refused to detail its protocols for dealing with bio-hazardous waste, claiming it’s a privacy issue.

“Biohazard is not a privacy issue. It’s a policy. It’s a procedure,” he said.

When WHO-TV contacted American Airlines, a spokesperson said:

"Our aircraft cleaners are trained to look for visible items like trash left on the seats, floor and seatback pockets.  We regret that the cleaners did not detect that this particular seat was wet.  If our customer service agents or flight crew had been notified before the flight, we would have removed the affected seat cushion and replaced it with a new, clean one."

The airline also increased Feinberg's compensation to $1,000, refunded the 10,000 frequent flyer miles he'd used on the flight and paid for his $500 suit he was wearing on the flight.

The airline did not provide WHO-TV a copy of its policy regarding the disposal of bio-hazardous waste.

"The biggest issue is what are [they] gonna do in the future when this happens to people?" asks Feinberg.

Feinberg knows what he'll do in the future.

"I'll check my seat first before I sit down.  I don't want any more surprises," he said.

4 comments

  • Fred

    I’m required to travel by flight somewhat frequently for my job. I hate flying! Not because of the flight itself or the waiting at the airport, but because of how the passengers are treated. Any time I fly, on any airline, I feel like I’m part of a herd of cattle being led to the slaughterhouse. The flying experience these days is a huge change from how it was twenty or twentyfive years ago. It doesn’t surprise me – it’s all about big business and the money they can make – Customers’ come last.

  • Mel

    Gees, my fellow Americans are getting more and more lazy and stupid as the years go on here. God, first off, what the h@$! is wrong with the airline!? They not hiring enough people to clean the aircraft anymore!? And the flight attendant KNEW THAT THE OLD PERSON WAS INCONTINENT AND SAID NOTHING TO THE CLEANERS ABOUT IT!!!?? NEGLIGENT, LAZY AND DISGUSTING!!! Secondly, urine is STERILE, you aren’t going to catch hepatitis or freaking EBOLA from it, the customer is also a moron. And unless he was rubbing open wounds, his eyes or licking the seat (which on a plane would be *shudder* absolutely a bio hazard even when cleaned) he is not going to catch anything from the urine except for the stink of ammonia and embarrassment cause he smells like he did it. But seriously, American Airlines! Get it together and CLEAN the planes after you land, not once over glance and walk out, cause this laziness is disturbing, makes me wonder just how many other things, not just airlines, are being said to be cleaned and are not at all! Gross! And Mr. Feinberg needs to sue but not blow it completely out of proportion with his stupidity on exactly what a bio hazard is. Shaking my head…..

    • asearcher1

      Urine when it comes out is sterile. However, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria after it is out of the body. I agree that not likely to catch the things the customer said but it could lead to bacterias already there to ‘bloom’ and affect the passenger. Bottom line, I’m checking my seat from now on.

  • Steve Vance

    I think the airline was rather generous….with him…I wonder if they cleaned his slacks after they gave him the pajamas?….Crap happens and it is how you react to it…..I went to London last Sept…and when I got to the hotel at midnight they did not have a room for me even though reservations were made months before by a travel agency…they simply gave my room away…thinking they could just walk me to another nearby hotel for the night….not realizing that there were no rooms available in the entire city due to the rugby tournaments ….Anyway, they upped me to a fabulous expensive suite and refunded all my money for the week I was there. They also gave my friends a lovely suite too…for their aggravation. The nice rooms made the trip nicer….despite the one night of aggravation… It is how you react to things…That is what life is all about…

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