Fly a lot? Maybe you've had a bad trip or two lately. Maybe you've even found yourself flat-out disgusted, on occasion, with crappy service or worse.
No matter how bad you've had it, however, I'll bet you haven't had a worse experience than whoever was sitting next to a particularly disruptive passenger yesterday on United Airlines flight #895 Thursday from Chicago to Hong Kong.
I should say, more accurately: "originally scheduled to from Chicago to Hong Kong."
Before we get too far into this story, let's state upfront that the passengers say United's pilots and staff handled the situation we're about to describe "perfectly," according to a reporter. And to give even more credit, I can't imagine there's a specific plan in the playbook for what to do if this kind of thing happens.
Because you see, the flight was diverted to Alaska due to an agitated passenger who began "smearing feces everywhere," according to airport police in Anchorage.
Not a good flight experience.
How bad was it? Was this a small, embarrassing bathroom accident--or a truly disruptive and potentially insane passenger?
Everyone involved seems to have had enough class not to get deep into those kind of "how much volume are we talking about?" details. (Which is kind of nice in 2018 in America, accidentally.)
But it was plainly pretty disgusting, as passengers who talked with an Alaska TV reporter made clear.
"I saw him spreading feces on the bathroom wall with his shirt," United passenger B.J. Canup told a KTVA TV reporter. "He was pouring soda and spitting food all over too."
Apparently the man came back to the main cabin without his shirt after smearing the walls of the lavatory--or lavatories, plural.
Accounts seem to differ, although honestly, smearing the walls of just one public lavatory with human excrement is probably enough to warrant official action.
Another, more decorous passenger skipped the scatological details, but made clear we're talking about a disruptive mess.
"He was shaking the seats all around him. [H]e was pouring soda & water on the floor and on laptops," passenger Tricia Mason, told the television reporter in the airport--whose name, ironically given the circumstances, is Scott Gross.
Who does this kind of thing? Well, Gross--the Alaska reporter, not the situation itself--tweeted that he'd learned that the "man who caused chaos" was 21 or 22 years old, lived in Oakland, California, had been released from jail in Indiana recently, and was heading to Vietnam to live with family.
So far, he hasn't been charged with a crime.
Gross added that several other passengers "kept the young man calm" as the flight landed in Anchorage. Passengers he spoke with had nothing but praise for the United pilots and flight crew, who "handled the situation perfectly."
I reached out to United Airlines for more details--despite being a little afraid of what I'd hear.
But their spokesperson, Charles Hobart, simply confirmed the main facts about a flight being "diverted to Anchorage last night due to a disruptive passenger," without getting into nasty details of what, exactly, the passenger had done.
Which is probably better for all our sakes.
"Authorities met the aircraft upon its arrival at the gate," Hobart continued. "We provided hotel accommodations for our customers and are working to get them to their destinations as quickly as possible."