Amid renewed scrutiny of how airlines treat passengers, a mother of two from Missouri claims she was forced to urinate in a cup after a flight attendant reportedly refused to let her use the restroom during a United Airlines flight in April.
Nicole Harper, who says she suffers from an overactive bladder, was traveling from Houston back home to Kansas City, Mo. on April 10.
"I get out of my seat to go to the bathroom, the flight attendant gets on the intercom and says I need to return to my seat,” Harper recalled to FOX 4.
Harper says she attempted to make her way to the restroom multiple times but was continuously told to stay seated.
"They very rudely [said] that I was not allowed to get out of my seat and at that point I said `well I`m either going to need to go to the bathroom or you`re going to have to give me a cup to pee in or something,'" she said.
Shockingly, Harper says, the attendant then handed her two cups. While she was still seated, Harper proceeded to relieve herself surrounded by other passengers.
"It`s so degrading because there are passengers, strangers, that I have to basically do this in front of," she said.
After going to the bathroom, Harper claims she was then taken back to the plane’s restroom to empty the cups and forced to hold onto them until she left the plane. The mother of two says that the crewmembers were unapologetic, extremely rude and “proceeded to basically treat me as if I was a criminal for doing this.”
United says that the plane had already started its final descent and, per FAA regulations, crewmembers had alread instructed all passengers to remain seated for the duration of the flight.
According to KSHB, Harper has since filed a complaint with both United Airlines and the Department of Transportation. The incident occurred just one day after a 69-year-old passenger was infamously dragged off a United flight for refusing to give up his seat to airline crewmembers on a full flight to Kentucky.
Harper hopes that sharing her story will bring more awareness to how airlines are really treating people.
"The more that people speak out about situations that have happened and being mistreated that hopefully there will be a shift in a way that these companies do business," she said.
This isn’t the first time an airline passenger claims to have been mistreated for needing to use the restroom. In April, a Milwaukee man was reportedly kicked off a Delta Air Lines flight after going to the restroom while the plane waited to takeoff on the runway.
United Airlines sent the following statement to FOX 4:
Customer safety is always our first priority. Initial reports from the Mesa Airlines flight attendants indicate that Ms. Harper attempted to visit the lavatory on final descent and was instructed to remain seated with the seat belt fastened per FAA regulations. The situation as described by Ms. Harper and our employees is upsetting for all involved. We have reached out to Ms. Harper and our flying partner Mesa Airlines to better understand what occurred.
A representative from United Airlines was not immediately available for comment.