Since the recent postings of the French actor, Gerard Depardieu relieving himself in the cabin of an airplane, it reminded me of an incident I experienced in October 2010. Obviously the actor went one above what we did, and while I find it rather nasty, it leads me to say, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go! You can only hold it for so long…right?
On a recent Southwest Air flight home from Orlando, I encountered a situation that I never thought I’d have to encounter…but with a child, it should have been expected, right? It was the “Mommy, I have to go potty” moment that happens when you don’t really want it to happen, oh say, miles in the air on a plane! The pilot just made his announcement that he was turning the “seat belt” light on and we were going to be starting our descend to Chicago. Just as that was happening, Gianna tells me, “Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom”…and I ask the normal question, “Can you hold it a little bit until we land?”. She tells me, “No, I have to go really bad”…oh great I think…now what? I wasn’t quite sure what to do so I pushed my call button for the flight attendant. She came over in a little huff and I asked the following question, “Do we have time for her to go to the bathroom really quick” as I pointed over to my 6 year old holding herself down there practically doing the seated potty dance. She looks at me and says in a quite frank manner, “No, I am actually supposed to be buckled in my seat right now” and leaves me to figure this one out on my own. My mom timed the entire process from when the flight attendant came over to when I finally had enough…and it was…28 minutes! My 6 year old daughter sat there, in tears, holding her urine as best as she could and kept saying, “I just want to go potty” in between tearful gasps. I tried to explain to her why she couldn’t go, but she just wasn’t understanding. I told her her only option was to pee right there in the seat to which she was having no part of…why? Because then everyone would “think I am a baby”. So instead, she tried her best to hold it. As soon as our plane touched the ground and came to a stop the pilot told us that we would be in a holding pattern because our terminal was not free. We’d have to wait another 5 minutes or so until the other plane proceeded to the runway.
Now, there was NO way I was going to let my daughter hold it and cry with such discomfort any longer. I handed her to my husband and told him, “Take her to the bathroom in the back” only because it was the closer of the two bathrooms. Once he got there, he was greeted by the flight attendant who promptly told him he wasn’t supposed to be back there. He basically told her he didn’t care that his daughter was crying in pain to go to the bathroom and everyone would just have to wait one minute longer to get to the terminal until she was done. Apparently, the flight attendant didn’t like that and made a call to the pilot, who in turn, made a not so nice announcement that we could not proceed to the terminal until “EVERYONE was in their seats”. Fine…we are all good in my row, I now have a happy and RELIEVED child, so all was good. Just then, the pilot gets back on his intercom and in a very mean and nasty tone says, “I am SURE that YOUR fellow passengers would like to get off this plane but we cannot move until EVERYONE IS SEATED, SO GET IN YOUR SEATS!”. Just then, we all look at each other like, WTF was that all about, and I just happen to turn my head and see that another little girl walked out of the bathroom and went into her seat.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that there are rules and regulations, security issues and procedures, however, I do also know that SOME rules are made to be broken, especially when there are children involved. It wasn’t like it was an adult who pretty much knows HOW to “hold it”, we are talking about small children who just don’t understand the “how’s” or “why’s” of it all. They just know that they have to relieve themselves. I was very offended and disappointed in the way that the entire staff behaved. I have traveled Southwest Air my entire adult life and not once have I ever had a bad experience, until now. It seriously makes me question if I will use them again and it really has left a bad feeling with my daughter who told me she didn’t want to fly anymore. Can you imagine being 6 years old, having to go to the bathroom and being told to “HOLD IT” for 30+ minutes? That is insane. Would the airlines rather I let my child go to the bathroom all over their seat…and floor? I am sure there is such a thing as a “sanitary” issue with that. Which is worse, staying parked for one minute or sitting in a seat that just had urine all over it? You decide! I’d rather wait the extra minute!
My question is to all you parents with children…what would you do in that type of situation? Would you continue to make your child “hold it”, have them go on the seat right there and have the staff clean up after you, or would you take them to the bathroom on your own? I don’t think we were wrong whatsoever in taking her to the bathroom when we did, and I can’t blame that other little girl for going to the bathroom when she did either…goodness, making them little ones hold it for 30+ minutes is just insane and inhumane!