Family forced to sit in vomit-covered seats on United Airlines flight

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ORLANDO, Fla. — A family is furious at United Airlines because family members had to fly home from Orlando in seats soaked with vomit.

A passenger got sick on an earlier flight. United now admits its cleanup crew didn’t do a very good job drying and sanitizing the seats.

The Shirley family says the airline gave it only one other option — take a later flight.

United let the family wrap its carry-on luggage in trash bags, and it gave each family member a $150 voucher toward a future flight.

A reporter at WUSA9 reached out to United for comment and received this response:

“The situation Mr. Shirley described is certainly one that we wish no customer experiences, as our cleaners did not fully clean the seat area prior to departure. We offered them an alternate flight, but they decided to remain onboard. Our agents did the best they could in the short time they had to accommodate Mr. Shirley and keep the flight on time. We’re reaching out to apologize for his experience.”


  • Melissa Lewis

    Scary, especially considering that technically it wasn’t just messy or ‘icky’, but potentially hazardous (you don’t know WHAT that passenger who threw up might have had that could have been passed on). They should sue the airline for endangering them.

  • bob

    “Did the best they could”, they say, right after they said they should have done a better job.

    P.R. people need to take some more classes or something.

  • Franco

    Sure, the airline could have done a better job cleaning it up but the family did decide NOT go on a later flight. Fault on the family they weren’t force to take that flight.

    • Cari Dickenson

      maybe they didn’t have a choice to get on a later flight… maybe the person taking care of the animals couldn’t stay longer… maybe someone had to go to work…. etc etc you don’t know why they could NOT get on a later flight. and why should they have to?!?! They paid for their flight to be at that time… not a later one because the airlines couldn’t do there dang job!

      • Franco

        Then maybe they should learn how to plan accordingly in case an emergency. So what if they paid for their flight, what if it was winter and the weather was horrible and they couldn’t fly. People need to take responsibility for their actions and realize airlines can’t control everything.

      • miles (dave)

        franco is right, and yes they were given the opportunity to go on a later flight (having a pet sitter dose not take away there option to take another flight). flying from place to place is a service to the public just like restaurants if you pay for your big mac and they tell you sry were out of fries would you like a cookie instead. you do not have the option of suing that restaurant because they are not obligated. you can take there offer or take your money back.

        if it were me and i preferred taking that flight then im sure the attendants would be more than happy to let me have all the paper towels and soap i wanted, and im not so proud to not clean up a mess even if i didnt make it. i just prefer to get the job done with a smile rather than cry.

      • Alan

        Cari, You are the one with the level head. For some reason some less than reasonable people want to blame the passengers, when the facts say United is the one who erred here and no one else. It’s nice to know there are reasonable people like yourself. :)

  • Seana Bertuccini Collins

    They were offered to go on another flight… the family said no… if there are no other seats availible then there is nothing more they can do… The family made there choice… the only thing that should happen is repremanding the cleaners who did a poor job.

    • cleanupaspenhill

      The family was not the one’s who needed to adjust, it was United. There are other reports out there stating the doors were not closed to the airplane when this happened. United states that they will delay a flight to clean up vomit. Did United delay the flight? No! Not family’s fault. Case closed.

  • Jeanne Stellfox

    My question is did the Airlines offer to pay for the young family’s hotel and related expenses when offering a flight the next day, as well as the mother’s day wages (since she was expected back to work the next day)? If the answer is YES, then I would weigh judgment against the family for not taking the offer. Oh, and one more thing, in light of Ebola and other diseases that are spread by body fluids, would not the “other” passengers have the right to be told this incident has occurred and also given the same offer before the flight took off? I was told by friends who work for airlines that all flights are cleaned thoroughly between trips, but now I know this is lip service and that the agenda may just be to “stay on schedule” at all costs, however miniscule any threat may be to its paying customers.

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