Traveling with babies can be extremely stressful for a million reasons. One of those reasons, aside from worrying whether they’ll scream and cry the whole time, is because changing a dirty diaper 3,000 feet above sea level in a space the size of a matchbox is extremely difficult to do. Something we don’t often consider is that the flight attendants on board would be antagonistic, as opposed to helpful, toward a mom flying with a baby.
That’s exactly what happened to Farah Naz Khan, a mother and endocrinologist from Seattle who was flying on a Mesa/United Airlines Express with her daughter and husband from Montana to Houston this week. According to Khan, she had to change her daughter’s diaper mid-flight.
She used the diaper changing station in the rear of the airplane and threw it away in a separate, scented bag. When she was walking back to her seat, she says a male flight attendant confronted her.
“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,'” she told NBC News. She also shared details of the incident on Twitter.
Khan says the flight attendant kept “yelling” at her and refused to let her explain that she had sealed the diaper in a separate bag prior to tossing it in the garbage. He then allegedly told her to fish the dirty diaper out of the garbage.
She complied, but said going through the garbage bin in front of the entire plane left her feeling “humiliated” and “belittled.” Not long after, another flight attendant assured her she hadn’t done anything wrong. But the damage was done at that point.
Upon landing, Khan filed a customer service incident report, stating that any other time she had flown with her daughter she had always disposed of the used diapers in garbage bins. Later that day, she says she received a call directly from the flight attendant in question.
“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.”
Khan says he continued to rant against her on the phone, shaming her for bringing her child on the flight.
“He then said, you people, you bring your children everywhere,” she said. “You should just drive places. You really don’t understand that people just want to have a peaceful flight and not listen to your f-ing children.”
Khan, a South Asian Muslim woman, told KOMO News she was “unsure” of what he meant by “you people.”
Unfortunately, the situation remains unresolved. Khan was unable to find out the flight attendant’s identity or how he found her cell phone number and says both United Airlines and Mesa Airlines haven’t contacted her or apologized.
She told NBC News she’s considering a lawsuit due to her family’s safety being jeopardized.
“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?