American Airlines Slammed for Response to "Verbally Abusive" Drunk Passenger
A passenger is speaking out after an intoxicated seatmate vomited on her belongings.
In some ways, getting a row to yourself on a plane is way better than a seat upgrade, because as any frequent flier will tell you, an unruly seatmate can completely ruin your in-flight experience. Whether it's watching a movie without headphones, eating stinky snacks, or engaging in an armrest war, a terrible seatmate makes travel unbearable.
Of course, the spectrum of bad behavior varies greatly. Some people don't mind an overly chatty seatmate, while others may find the brightness from an open window shade a mild inconvenience. But one American Airlines passenger recently had a worst-case-scenario experience when she was seated behind a very intoxicated traveler, whose pre-flight boozy breakfast ended up all over her bags.
Nicole Schreib and her fiancé boarded their post-Thanksgiving flight to Miami excited for some sunshine, only to land and discover Schreib's personal bags covered in vomit. The culprit? An intoxicated woman seated in front of Schreib, whom she had first run into prior to boarding at New York's LaGuardia Airport.
"Two of them were walking arm and arm, stumbling drunk, and ran right into me in the bathroom," Schreib told Business Insider. "It was just crazy because it was 7:30 in the morning. You don't expect that at that time."
Schreib said that she was "concerned, honestly" for the woman, who could "barely talk" to the man seated next to her and began "slurring her words." At some point during the flight, the passengers seated next to the intoxicated woman moved to different seats, and that's when Schreib caught a whiff of "a vile smell."
"I thought, 'Oh god she must be getting sick,'" Schreib recalled. The woman was offered ginger ale and water by AA flight attendants. As they neared Miami, Schreib reached under the seat in front of her for her two small bags. To her horror, she discovered that the woman had thrown up all over Schreib's luggage.
"I couldn't believe the amount," Schreib said, adding that the flight attendant couldn't step in and help clean up the mess, since "bodily fluids" were involved.
Schreib reached out to American Airlines with hopes that the airline would try to rectify the situation, but Schreib told Business Insider that they "took absolutely no responsibility." When Schreib aired her frustrations again, she was offered a $50 voucher.
In regards to the incident, an AA spokesperson told Business Insider, "We strive to provide a positive travel experience for all of our customers, and a member of our team has reached out to learn more." Still not satisfied, Schreib shared her experience on X alongside a video of the intoxicated and "verbally abusive" woman.
"@AmericanAirlines allowed this intoxicated, verbally abusive woman on my flight despite removing one of her friends," she wrote. "Here she is calling the two men in her aisle [expletive] prior to puking on the floor and my bags – $50 credit is all they offered as compensation. #americanairfail"
American Airlines responded in the comments suggesting Schreib email them again, but she said they have yet to return her message.
Sadly, this isn't an isolated incident. Stories of unruly passengers and onboard violence have become more and more common since the COVID-19 pandemic. In some serious cases, these in-flight encounters have resulted in physical assault, particularly against flight attendants.
To counteract and put an end to this "epidemic of air rage," members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have proposed a new bill called The Protection from Abusive Passengers Act. According to The Washington Post, the bill would allow the TSA to add unruly passengers to a no-fly list, valid across all carriers. (This isn't to be confused with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) no-fly list, which bans known and suspected terrorists from flying.)
"Passengers must get onboard and follow the rules and not commit acts of violence," Sen. Jack Reed said during a press conference in wake of the new legislation, per USA Today. "It would grant the TSA flexibility to develop this no-fly list and ensure it is fair, transparent, and includes due process and the opportunity for appeal."
Of course, it's not certain if extreme drunkenness and throwing up on other people's luggage would qualify someone for inclusion.