A Seattle woman said a flight attendant humiliated her mid-flight for trying to dispose of her daughter's dirty diaper in a bathroom garbage bin and later told her that she had been placed on a no-fly list for creating a biohazard.
Farah Naz Khan, a 34-year-old endocrinologist, said Monday that she was traveling on a Mesa Airlines flight from Kalispell, Montana, to Houston on Friday with her husband and their daughter, who is younger than 2.
About midway through the flight, she and her daughter went to a diaper changing station in the rear of the airplane and disposed of a soiled diaper in a scented bag. While she was headed back to her seat, a male flight attendant confronted her, Khan said.
"When I walked back to the front holding my diaper wipes container and, like, the pad that we used to change my daughter's diaper on, the flight attendant accosted me and said: 'Did you just dispose of a diaper back there? That's a biohazard.'"
Khan said the flight attendant didn't let her explain — he only yelled. Khan said that she then asked him whether he wanted her to retrieve the used diaper and that he said yes.
Fishing through a garbage bin for the diaper made her feel "humiliated" and "belittled," Khan said. She then became angry when she asked another flight attendant for a garbage bag to put the diaper in and he told her she hadn't done anything wrong.
The second flight attendant called over the first flight attendant, and when Khan tried to speak to him, he refused, Khan said.
Khan filed a customer service incident report upon landing, she said. Khan has flown with her daughter before and always disposed of used diapers in garbage bins, she said.
A few hours after landing, she got a phone call from an unidentified 1-800 number. When she picked up her cellphone, Khan said, the flight attendant was on the line.
"I recognized the voice. He said, 'Due to a biohazard incident on the plane today, we've placed you on the no-fly list.' This made me very angry, because I suffered the humiliating experience. ... They are placing me on a no-fly list?" Khan said. "I also didn't dispose of the diaper on the plane, even if it was considered a biohazard. I walked it off the plane and threw it away myself outside the flight."
Mesa Airlines contracts with United Airlines for some regional flights as part of the airline's express network, a United spokesman said. He referred questions about the incident to Mesa.
A Mesa spokesperson said in a statement, "The details as described by our customer do not meet the high standards that Mesa sets for our flight attendants and we are reviewing the matter."
The spokesperson didn't answer other questions.
Khan said that after she was told she was on a no-fly list, the phone call with the flight attendant, whose name she doesn't know, became scary.
"It's just profanities. Vulgarities. 'You people bring your children everywhere. Don't you know that some people just want a peaceful flight and don't want to listen to your effing children?'" Khan said the flight attendant told her.
Khan, who described herself as South Asian Muslim and American, said she was unsure exactly what the flight attendant meant by "you people." But it sounded derogatory, she said.
At one point, Khan put the call on speaker. She said her daughter was in the room with her, prompting the flight attendant to tell her: "I hear your obnoxious daughter in the background."
Khan hung up on him shortly afterward. The call lasted about three minutes, she said.
Khan, who flew back to Houston on Monday, said she doesn't believe she was placed on a no-fly list. She said she was unsure what the flight attendant was trying to accomplish with the phone call other than to intimidate her.
As of Monday afternoon, Khan said, no one from Mesa had contacted her family. But she got two calls from United Airlines. Both calls, each lasting less than 10 minutes, were unsatisfying, because the airline wouldn't tell her the flight attendant's identity, how he got her cellphone number or whether he has been disciplined, Khan said.
No one from United offered her or her family an apology, she said.
She tweeted about the ordeal Saturday. As of late Monday afternoon, her tweet had received 258 retweets and 388 likes.
She said she is considering suing to keep her family safe.
"I'm legitimately worried about this person," she said. "Over a diaper if he's able to call me and say those things, what else could he be capable of?"