Continental Airlines Sewage Flight, Eyewitness Account

Passengers on Continental Airlines flight 1970 from Amsterdarm to New Jersey on Thursday, June 14 were forced to sit next to sewage that seeped down the aisles for hours, according to King 5:

“To be blatantly honest, I was more nervous than I had ever been on a flight,” said [passenger] Collin Brock. “I’ve never felt so offended in all my life. I felt like i had been physically abused and neglected. I was forced to sit next to human excrement for seven hours,” said Brock.

Here’s what happened: Mid-way through the flight, the toilets stopped working. The flight made an unscheduled stop in Shannon, Ireland to fix the problem…but the problem wasn’t fixed. Shortly after take-off a sewage geyser started, and this time Continental didn’t turn back.

Dana (who was in first class, away from the poo geyeser) from Metroblogging NYC writes:

Shortly thereafter they announced that one of the two working toilets is now completely broken, that we will all–all 250 of us–need to share the one toilet in first class and that it is not quite fully functional. We are literally told not to through any paper down and to only go “#1″ if we can help it.

So here we are on an 8 hour transatlantic flight with one semi-functional bathroom and they start serving food and drink. I had two bloody mary’s hoping that the sodium levels would make me retain water. My boyfriend and I both refrained from eating or drinking much of anything–a real bummer when you paid for first class and all that good food and alcohol that comes with it. Everyone on the flight was told to “limit their consumption” and to “control what comes out on the other end”

Gross! According to Dana’s post, the sewage was bad but the customer service wasn’t much better. (No information, a random overnight stay in Ireland, letting people sit around in a terminal for no reason for hours before telling them their flight had been canceled, etc.)

In the end, Continental has offered passengers a $500 voucher. Would you take it? Is that enough? Could someone pay you $500 to take a poo flight?—MEGHANN MARCO

Sewage flows down aisles of trans-Atlantic flight [King 5]
Continental Flight with Human Waste Running Down the Aisle? Yeah, I Was On That… [Metroblogging NYC]
(Photo: Collin Brock)

Comments

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  1. timmus says:

    Yeah, admittedly I’d accept $500 to take a poo flight. I’d just find some way of keeping my feet off the floor (maybe I can bring a phone book for that?) and sleep the entire way. Back in the 1990s I flew trans-Atlantic on a C-5 Galaxy with one severely broken toilet, and we managed fine.

  2. jurgis says:

    No, because $500 isn’t enough to recoup the cost of the ticket. If they paid the $1200 or whatever a first class ticket cost… then we’d be talking.

  3. Dustbunny says:

    Eeeuuww. Between this pic and those of the shitty cruise ship room, remind me to never eat and read Consumerist at the same time. Ever again.

  4. adamondi says:

    $500 would be but a down payment on what it would take to get me to fly the stinky skies.

  5. Dangerdog says:

    If someone told me I could fly for free to Europe but I would have to fly on a poo flight, I would say no way.

    $500 doesn’t cut it.

    Is it a coincidence that there are two nightmare sewage travel articles in a row?

  6. lordbeef says:

    Going from the recent articles today, it looks like I have the option of flying Poo airlines or Poo Cruises.

    Things are really looking up for the poo motivated traveler!

  7. Peeved Guy says:

    @Dude in the article:

    “I’ve never felt so offended in all my life. I felt like i had been physically abused and neglected. I was forced to sit next to human excrement for seven hours,” said Brock.

    Does anyone else think this is just a wee bit over the top? (no pun intended)

  8. Uriel says:

    Poo flowing down the AISLE!!!!! [www.collegehumor.com]

  9. roche says:

    POO DAY! WOOHOO!

  10. notebook says:

    Augh. And right after the cruise toilet incident.
    Apparently companies don’t mind working in an environment that reflects their customer service.

    ….
    That’s still just absolutely disgusting. D:

  11. hc5duke says:

    Is $500 enough? Depends – if you paid $1000+ for a first class seat, then no, that’s not enough, I’d expect $500 PLUS the amount extra I paid for first class refunded.

    If I was in coach, and $500 covers the cost of the flight, then sure, I got a free flight (albeit a poo-filled one), and I’ll gladly fly Continental again. I’ve said this before in another post, but I have been using Continental almost exclusively since ’95 or so, and I’ve never run into any problems, except weather related events (rain in Houston or snow in Denver/NY).

  12. MercuryPDX says:

    “I was forced to sit next to human excrement for seven hours.”

    Jeez… as if poo in the aisle isn’t bad enough, the poor guy got stuck next to Courtney Love. Ya can’ts wins I tells yas!

  13. MercuryPDX says:

    @Dangerdog: No… someone in the other article mentioned it.

  14. RandomHookup says:

    That’s what they get for serving Alli in the departure lounge.

  15. bedofnails says:

    Some chick from the Secret Service did it.

  16. wobudong says:

    Drinking alcohol on a long flight is foolish. On the other hand, it surely dehydrates you — in this instance not a bad idea at all.
    But I would take flying seated alongside a stream of urine and the occasional turd to flying alongside a crying toddler.

  17. Seacub says:

    Now we just need an exploding toilet on Amtrak and it’s a Fecal Trifecta!

  18. Buran says:

    @Peeved Guy: No. Considering this is a health hazard on top of being disgusting and offensive, it’s a perfectly valid attitude/complaint.

  19. hypnotik_jello says:

    $500? Are you kidding? I guess if I could bring my own oxygen supply, and I didn’t smell like shit for the next three weeks, maybe I’d do it.

    Seriously, that’s what I want to know, 8 hours of noxious fumes probably has a way of seeping into your skin, hair, pores, etc.

  20. Bay State Darren says:

    Where’s the mandatory Snakes on a Plane joke? C’mon people, it’s been 17 posts already and nobody’s said “I have enough of this motherfucking shit on this motherfucking plane!” or something to that point. I’m very disappointed.

  21. JustAGuy2 says:

    Full refund seems fair.

  22. AT203 says:

    I’m sure the cabin crew did the best they could in a bad situation. The blame seems to lie with the maintenance crew, and whomever cleared that particular plane to fly. Then perhaps with the pilots for not declaring an emergency and grounding the flight (I’m assuming they have that power?)

    And I don’t think $500 was enough compensation. I think Continental will learn that they needed to go above and beyond and get out ahead of the media backlash.

  23. leejames says:

    Not one but TWO posts about rivers of poo and I haven’t seen one oh-so-clever, Dennis Miller-esque reference to the 8th circle of hell in The Divine Comedy?

    Or even that movie Envy, where Jack Black invents a spray-on product called Va-Poo-Rize that destroys poo instantly?

    @Bay State Darren: Guess that shows how quickly SoaP fell from the internet’s collective memory. But I appreciate your effort.

  24. Hawk07 says:

    That’s when you open up the galley with free drinks. Maybe people won’t remember it after that.

  25. Bay State Darren says:

    @Hawk07: No but they’ll make the problem much worse.

  26. nan says:

    @wobudong: Isn’t sitting next to an excrement geyser and sitting next to a miserable screaming child the exact same thing??

    I’m just kidding, both situations would be awful for all parties involved. I don’t think $500 cuts it. Aside from being just gross – this is definitely a health hazard. This was Continental, you said? It’s going on my avoid list. Along with dozens of other companies.

  27. superlayne says:

    I need a serious unicorn chaser.

  28. bostonguy1010 says:

    8 hrs with no pooing (if you had to) and $500…um no. I personally would want at least DOUBLE what my flight was minimum.

    If they stopped to fix it and it wasn’t fixed leave me and get me FREE OF ADDITIONAL CHARGE on an other flight. Don’t take off again and say “oh by the way here’s a cork, good luck”

  29. Buran says:

    @AT203: “The best they could” would have been turning back or landing at the nearest airstrip. Greenland, for example.

  30. faust1200 says:

    @Bay State Darren: My apologies. I have been anointed as one of the bearers of the Snakes on a Plane line. I hope my belated line reading will be to your satisfaction: I’m tired of this motherfucking dookie water on this motherfucking plane!!!

  31. TVarmy says:

    Wow, so it appears any expensive form of travel has a high chance of sewage spilling. NASA is probably the most expensive (If someone can beat it, surprise me), so let’s see some floating crap in space!

  32. kc-guy says:

    Class action?

  33. Peeved Guy says:

    @Buran: I guess so many other words popped to mind rather than offended, abused and neglected. Every form of anger, disgusted, outraged, etc., but not offended.

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya

  34. Bay State Darren says:

    Airplanes should be like trains (in movies, at least) for situations like this: passengers can pull a rope and the damn thing just stops wherever it happens to be. These passengers could have done that and gotten off to catch the next plane instead of this disgusting one. There, problem solved.

  35. smallestmills says:

    I know, I know, I know, poop is a horrible thing. It’s not like the sewage flows out of the toilet and this happens all the time, and I think they’re over reacting a bit. That being said, Continental should just comp the flight. And to the lady who drank Bloody Marys hoping the salt would back her up…someone should probably tell her that alcohol is a diuretic.

    Oh yeah, last thing…
    Should they change their name to INContinental?

  36. faust1200 says:

    @smallestmills: InContinental! Very nice.

  37. Ikki says:

    Fecal trifecta now in play.

  38. mulletmandan says:

    Somebody must be taking that new diet pill that causes loss of bowel control.

    [angryaussie.wordpress.com]

  39. ThyGuy says:

    I’d take the screaming baby. I can drown out the baby with headphones. You can’t drown out the smell of shit and piss.


    ewww…

  40. Chese says:

    The aircraft in question has 8 lavs normally in use and I would question the airline even flying with only one or two operating. If the non working lavs were not placarded as required they may have been in violation of the MMEL for the 767. Need more info on this one.

  41. RogueSophist says:

    This is absolutely a job for Oops! I Crapped My Pants!

    Sorry. Better late than never.

  42. bnissan97 says:

    Continental as far as I know it is an American Company. How does this make America look to all the Non Americans who were aboard that flight and spread the word about it?

    Out of curiosity, why didn’t Continental just get another plane or charter one if they didn’t have one in their fleet?

  43. bnissan97 says:

    Look at how Consumerist spelled Continental—” Continential Airlines Sewage Flight, Eyewitness Account 3,659 Views

    Here is Continental’s website.
    [www.continental.com]

    Come on Consumerist-This is the second basic spelling error I have found in a week. Makes you loose credibility.

    COME ON CONSUMERIST-DO SPELL CHECK!!!

  44. SexCpotatoes says:

    Man, I gotta take a dump. Glad I’m not on a Continental airplane right now.

  45. The Walking Eye says:

    @bnissan97: “Makes you loose credibility.”

    Loose? I think you mean lose. Come on bnissan97, do spell check!!!

  46. Collin84 says:

    My Name happens to be Collin Brock and I am the very person from that flight. I realize that some people may find my words neglected and physically abused as extreme. I would like to offer this explanation: There was not a single rep to be found from continental aiding in the entire process of this crazy flight. When we were bussed to a place to stay in Ireland, only for some of us to arrive and find out the inn was full and we needed to be bussed a different place where was Continental? They should have had at least one rep organizing the passengers and keeping them informed as to what the problem was and what course of action was being taken. Yes I felt there was a certain amount of neglect. Many people spent hours in Shannon, Ireland waiting for the bags, which never came. It was well into the night before they got anywhere to rest. Not that much rest was had by anyone, we had to be back at the airport in the early morning.

    In reference to being abused. Intentionally, knowingly exposing people to hazardous material, (human waste which has the potential to carry any number of diseases) in my opinion, is an abuse against anybody and everybody’s rights, let alone of a paying customer.

    I would like to make it clear to the person who said they would take the shitty flight for $500 that we were awarded vouchers. $500 does not cover the cost of the flight from Amsterdam to Newark. We in fact paid to sit in a cesspool. Also the vouchers are only good for use with Continental. It costs $100 or more, depending on your final destination, to book with them rather than, for example, travelocity.com or orbitz.com. And I don’t know how often some of you bloggers fly but fyi here are business class prices from Newark to Amsterdam several months in advance, quoted from the Continental website: “Nonstop from
    $4,260.00, With Stops from $3,838.00, Lowest Refundable from, $5,734.00 First/BusinessFirst Cabin from $4,260.00

  47. hop says:

    where were you when the shit flew????????

  48. factotum says:

    Oh, irony of ironies: On June 19th, Continental Awarded by J.D. Powers as best traditional air… line, whatever the hell that means. Sort of makes you question J.D. Powers’ methodology.

  49. ancientsociety says:

    Wow, that’s disgusting. Not to mention a blatant health hazard. If excrement is floating about the cabin, and the air is constantly being recycled, there’s a good chance that someone is going to get sick.

    Whoever “fixed” that plane and then cleared the flight should be immediately fired. The passengers should have their full fare refunded. End of story.

  50. virgilstar says:

    @bnissan97:

    Agreed. Basic spelling errors like this, and the use of words like “poo” (what are we, like 3 years old now?) is why I refused to vote for consumerist to get on Google news. I still can’t believe they made it! When this place stops acting like a teenager’s blog, then it might be considered a news source.

    Re the original subject – having been to Shannon Ireland, I’d take sitting on a stinky plane any day.

  51. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I wonder how long “shortly after takeoff” is in this situation, in regards to when this “geyser” started. And let’s all just calm down a bit and realize that while there was sewage “leaking” down the aisle, I wouldn’t go so far as to classify it as a “geyser”.

    And unfortunately, this is a lose-lose situation. Turn around, and you face the wrath of the people who would’ve been willing to deal with it and are now pissed that they’re facing yet another delay. Push forward and you have a plane full of people “forced to sit next to human excrement”.

    Lose. Lose.

  52. Starfury says:

    I’m surprised nobody’s made this comment:

    Shit happens.

  53. Bay State Darren says:

    I just thought of something…the cabin’s saturated in shit and the crew says, “Tough shit [ha ha ha, funny pun.] Yer stuck with it for seven hours.” (Incidently, I’m guessing the cockpit was sealed enough as to prevent the pilot etc. from having to giva a damn personally.] What if it was a terrorist threat? Surely post 9/11, we’ve contigency for such a situation, especially after failed shoe-bomber Richard Reid tried to blow up a plane over the mid-Atlantic. If there is such a response plan for emergency landing, couldn’t they have done that? If there isn’t, why not?

    @The Walking Eye: God, that’s funny. In a thread about shit, you’ve done the funniest comment with a mere grammatical critique. Bnissan97, you’ve been justly pwned. I’m sorry but it’s true.

  54. Bay State Darren says:

    @me: giva=give. I’m my own spelling/grammar Nazi. Speaking of which, I should have said spelling not grammatical. the English language really stumps me sometimes.

  55. GrandmaSophie says:

    I’m struggling so hard not to say “Holy crap”.

    No, $500 wouldn’t do it. I’m not the squeamish type either. But… that’s just fucking nasty. I think those people deserve, at the very least, the entire cost of their flights refunded (and I’m willing to bet that many of them were worth more than $500 – 1st class, business travelers who bought their tix last minute, etc.) I’d say, a $500 voucher PLUS refunding the ticket, whatever the cost of the individual ticket was. Maybe a nice gift certificate for a restaurant, too, since these folks couldn’t comfortably eat on the long flight lest they need to use the toilet – not to mention eating next to a river of shit.

  56. enm4r says:

    I don’t think I’m the first one to complain, and honestly so long as due compensation was given, I’d put up with the shit stream flowing down the aisle. Problem is, $500 is not my idea of due compensation. I think they should comp the ticket and give another free ticket/voucher up to $500. That’s more than fair, and I’d actually willinginly place myself on the flight for that compensation. They probably aren’t even covering half the cost of the most expensive ticket with the $500, so that’s really unacceptible.

  57. clarient says:

    I would have thrown a fit. I’ve been on a transatlantic flight before and they’re not too much fun even when conditions are optimal.

    Hour one, I probably would have been okay. Hour two, a bit miffed. Hour three, pissed. By the end of the flight, I would have been livid. Maybe it’s my mother’s fault, but I would have absolutely demanded to be compensated for the flight in addition to the $500 voucher – if not more. Double my frequent flier miles or whatever.

  58. acambras says:

    The fact that the flight crew actually TOLD people to limit their intake of food and drink and to “only go #1 if you can” ON A TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT should clearly demonstrate that there’s a TREMENDOUS problem.

    Sorry about the all caps, but they’re necessary to convey how incredulous I am that any decent airline would allow this to happen.

  59. bbbici says:

    A voucher worth another worldwide return flight would be the minimum compensation for this disgustingness. Anyone who has ever had a sewer backup in their home knows how traumatizing it is.

    I would freak on the airline if all i got was a $500 voucher.

  60. mac-phisto says:

    interesting. usually it doesn’t start smelling like crap until you actually land in new jersey.

    “welcome to newark – where the sewer meets the sea!”

  61. rrapynot says:

    For trips to Europe you absolutely MUST fly BA or Virgin Atlantic even if if means a change of planes in Heathrow. Every other airline I’ve flown is like Greyhound in comparison.

  62. Wormfather says:

    Like 67 comments and no one’s gone here yet? Oh well, here it goes.

    “I’ve had it with this mother @$%#ing poop on this mother @$%#ing plane”

  63. Wormfather says:

    …edit, actually I’m the 5th person.

  64. TinaT says:

    Are there really people who can hold their poo that long? When I gotta go, I gotta go. I can maybe hold out an hour, in an emergency, but not eight hours. So no, not even with a free flight + $500 would I willingly fly on Poo Airlines.

  65. Gopher bond says:

    @TinaT: I can hold my poo for days.

  66. dantsea says:

    @Peeved Guy: He comes across as even more dramatic when watching the video clip that quote was taken from. Lucky for him, the othervisuals of the shit-stained carpets and phonecam pictures of the flight attendants wearing makeshift hazmat getups were included to show how nasty it was.

    @TinaT: In the interest of sharing way too much information, on a recent round-trip of 13+ hours each way I managed to hold off numbah two until I was off the plane. I’m still not sure from where that particular talent was summoned.

  67. nicolacr says:

    Man, I can always count on the Consumerist posters to make me laugh my arse off, at least once per day…

    Yeah, I took a flight on Spirit from Detroit to New York La Guardia that took 4.5 hours of airtime – we spent most of that time circling Manhattan in turbulence. Spirit, no frills airline that it is, no longer provides barf bags, so all you could were people yacking all over the seats and in the aisle. After all that fun, we had to divert to Atlantic City to refuel and have a cleaning crew clean up as much barf as they could. The flight crew were prohibited from giving out water under threat of being fired if they did. Never, ever again will I fly Spirit. Some of these airlines truly deserve to go bankrupt…