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Am I Wrong for Walking Away From an FA?

Am I Wrong for Walking Away From an FA?

When nature calls, it’s kind of hard to ignore it.

A passenger aboard an unnamed airline took to Reddit to gauge whether they were in the wrong when an unpleasant encounter with a flight attendant regarding a bathroom situation took place on-flight.

The passenger, sassyelle on Reddit, explained to the divisive “AITA” community that before landing, a flight attendant made an announcement: if you need to use the bathroom, do it now. When an influx of people got up right away to use the bathrooms, sassyelle decided to use the available bathroom closest to their seat: the first class bathroom. When sassyelle exited, a flight attendant was standing directly outside the bathroom waiting.

Writes sassyelle, “She proceeded to angrily tell me that I had used the wrong bathroom… Frankly, I’d had a long and difficult work day and didn’t feel like listening to her lecture. So I interrupted to say ‘thank you for telling me’ and walked away.”

Then, the flight attendant followed saying loudly, “it’s extremely rude to walk away from people when they’re talking to you, don’t you think?” Now sassyelle wants to know, were they in the wrong? Or was the flight attendant?

Reddit users weighed in on the encounter and were once again divided on the issue:

One user who felt that sassyelle was in the wrong said, “Yeah, but right and wrong aren’t judged by if it’s costing anyone money. First Class bathrooms are reserved for first class passengers, plain and simple. That’s it. If you are not flying first class, you can’t use those bathrooms. And I say this as someone who has never flown first class.”

Those who felt that the flight attendant was in the wrong argued: “No, when you’re in the phase of flight where you’re trying to cycle as many passengers through the restrooms as possible in order to have them seated and belted for the approach, class divisions take a back seat to flight operations. The FA should have been working in that mode. And I say that as a pilot.”

And others thought both parties mishandled the situation: “You broke the rules and were rude to her. She was overreacting.”

Toilet access isn’t a privilege, especially when it’s a matter of urgency. Though it’s important to note that some airlines may have different rules about using toilets located in different cabins and failure to comply with a crewmember can potentially get you arrested.

How would you have handled the situation?


[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (46)


  1. giporlos

    March 14, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    Walking away was fine… the CoC says nothing about listening to FA about which bathroom to use…

  2. florin

    March 14, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    I find the lavatory:pax ratio inadequate in Y, because the FAA counts the total number of lavs / total number of pax. By that logic, at least from a regulatory perspective, all pax are free to use all lavs.

    That said, I think both sides could be more calm: the FA should recognize that and if (s)he believed it was wrong, something can be said without lecturing people. The pax can also politely acknowledge the situation (rather than abruptly end a convo) and move on. Posting threads about it online is maybe a bit far…

  3. FTA

    March 14, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I hate power tripping employees so I think he did the right thing

  4. Great_circle

    March 15, 2019 at 12:36 am

    The issue is not which bathroom to use (when there is urgency, you have to go, simple). The whole point is that it is definitely rude to walk away when somebody speaks to you (and these days anything is very easily called lecturing).
    She mentioned that it was a long and difficult work day and that she didn’t feel like listening to her lecture.
    A) We all sometimes have to deal with situations that we don’t fancy very much but that doesn’t mean that you can always walk away, unless you are a spoiled child.
    B) How do you think the working day of these flight attendants has been?

  5. PushingTin

    March 15, 2019 at 5:10 am

    Just tell her you identify as a First Class passenger…

    Every flight I’m on they say that you should use the bathroom in your cabin of service, but if you are in the front of economy, having a butt&crotch everyone as you go all the way to the back and then return to your seat- when time is important? I see lots of people from the low Y rows use F cabin lavs. Often, on INTL flights, the only handicap bath is in first, IIRC.

  6. santamonica811

    March 15, 2019 at 5:11 am

    I would have politely told the flight attendant, “I was having a bathroom emergency. All the loos in economy were being used. Given the choice between using the First Class bathroom and urinating on the cabin floor, I chose the first option. I hope you agree that I made the right choice.”

    Then I would smile politely and return to my seat. Just walking away is extremely rude of you. And, of course, you were in the wrong for using that particular bathroom. Next time (if you do not use my own ’emergency technique), just suck it up and listen to a FA growl at you for 30 seconds. It would not be the end of the world for you.

  7. alphaod

    March 15, 2019 at 5:29 am

    It’s also rude to lecture strangers. Everyone deserves respect no matter what they have done.

  8. geminidreams

    March 15, 2019 at 5:34 am

    Plan ahead. Know when the the plane is due to land and use the toilet 40 mins before. My biggest gripe is leaving the seat belt sign on, having the FAs walking up and down constantly and then trying to admonish you for getting up to go to the toilet with the sign on, to which I usually reply would you like me to do it in the toilet or the aisle. My view is if the seal belt sign is on everyone sits including the FAs until it is switched off.

  9. jybrick

    March 15, 2019 at 5:39 am

    Personally, I like to use the phrase “thank you for your input.”

  10. idrivethebru

    March 15, 2019 at 5:43 am

    The best way to handle rude behavior is to not engage the individual. There is no valid reason to prohibit someone from using a “first class” bathroom if there is a line at the others and none at the first class one especially if passengers are notified that time is short. This sounds like a FA not understanding quality customer service and may possibly be a control freak. I have used the first class lavatory when there was a line at the back and none at the front. No one has ever said anything.

  11. TheFlyingBrick

    March 15, 2019 at 5:47 am

    If you haven’t paid for it then you shouldn’t use it.

    Full stop!

  12. drphun

    March 15, 2019 at 6:13 am

    But the question wasn’t about the lavatory usage, it was about walking away while being lectured, after acknowledging the FA’s concern.

  13. ExplorerWannabe


    March 15, 2019 at 6:22 am

    sassyelle’s chosen handle says a lot about her attitude. I suspect she went to Reddit for confirmation and found instead that a substantial number of people disagree with her. Personally, if sassyelle’s account is correct and nearly complete, both were in the wrong. The FA should make allowances for physical urgencies and the necessity of quickly cycling passengers before landing. OTOH, it’s not clear to me that sassyelle had an urgent situation as opposed to just not wanting to wait in line for the lav in her proper cabin. If it was the latter, she was clearly in the wrong.

  14. Mtothe M

    March 15, 2019 at 6:44 am

    Eh, use your own bathroom. If you don’t pay for it, don’t whine and complain about being called out for it when you break the rules. Nobody cares if you had a bad day at work or not; nobody cares about your feelings, much less FA’s whose JOB is to light you up.

    If so many passengers have to go to the bathroom at the same time, I have to ask the question: Why? Sit until you de-board and then take your time. This “rush” to the bathroom doesn’t make any sense to me.

  15. laperk1028

    March 15, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Domestic flights: passengers may use the lavatory in any cabin
    International flights departing the US: passengers may use the lavatory in any cabin
    International flights returning to the US: it’s TSA policy to require airlines to direct passengers to use lavatories in their ticketed class of service

  16. fyree39

    March 15, 2019 at 7:09 am

    It depends. I once had a FA who was the nastiest, most condescending, sarcastic woman I’ve ever encountered. My only interaction with her was for beverage and snack service, but even that was testy. The woman in the seat next to me, who I didn’t know, was also a target. For the first time I understood what it felt like to be somewhat helpless in the air. If this FA decided to start something with any of the passengers, and please believe me when I say she acted this way with everyone, the passenger would lose, no matter what. I could certainly see someone who is a lot braver than I not putting up with that type of attitude and turning tail for the purpose of not being a target.

  17. bazzap

    March 15, 2019 at 7:19 am

    Provided the bathroom(s) in your cabin are operational, they are the ones you should use.
    What possibly gives you cause to believe you can just use ones in another cabin?
    If you do, what else – will you grab a glass of champagne on the way back to your seat too?!😱

  18. fasb43

    March 15, 2019 at 7:25 am

    I have the same complaint about this issue as I do about many other air travel issues: inconsistent enforcement by airline staff. While traveling in economy, I’ve been turned away from the first class lavatories. Yet, most times when I’ve traveled in first class, there has been a constant stream of economy passengers in and out of the first class lavatories. (I fly mostly American and United.) My message to the airlines: just be consistent, please, in your enforcement of the rules.

  19. HomerJay

    March 15, 2019 at 7:51 am

    When ya gotta go, ya gotta go. Simple as that. If it’s just before landing and the F lav seems the only available choice, use it and apologize.

    And after you apologize to the FA, explain it was urgent and you didn’t see any alternative that didn’t involve cleaning up a mess.

  20. midorosan

    March 15, 2019 at 8:18 am

    She knew she should not have used that bathroom.

  21. Mike in Pike

    March 15, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Depends. I assume that when the announcement was made there was enough time built in for an influx of passengers tonuse the economy restroom. I doubt that the influx was unexpected. With that in mind, wait your turn. Unfortunately it’s the “now” generation and people think they are entitled to whatever they want. Pay or forget it. Yes. You were rude twice.

  22. spartacus

    March 15, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Nobody wants to be lectured. I teach middle school and I don’t treat my students this way. The FA needs a lesson in communication skills. The moment I’m followed to my seat like that, I put on my teacher voice and they get the lecture and they’re not going to like it.

  23. Taggsflyer

    March 15, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Happened to my travelling companion on an internal Qantas flight. She urgently needed the lab, we were seated just behind the class separator (curtain!) and there was a queue at the back for the 2 economy laws, so she naturally went through the curtain, only to be stopped by an officious FA. Surely human need and nature’s calls take precedence over which part of the plane you’re seated in.

  24. Bobbarnett

    March 15, 2019 at 9:54 am

    I would have said there was no more time. If the FA said anything else, I would have told the FA next time I’ll pee on you

  25. laperk1028

    March 15, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Bazzap is right – you “should” use the bathrooms in your cabin, but there are rare cases when you can’t. Read the regulations on it :

    “Domestic flights: passengers may use the lavatory in any cabin
    International flights departing the US: passengers may use the lavatory in any cabin
    International flights returning to the US: it’s TSA policy to require airlines to direct passengers to use lavatories in their ticketed class of service”

    This is according to American Airlines understanding of FAA rules.

  26. Gizzabreak

    March 15, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Swipe cards issued automatically at the boarding gate when the boarding pass is scanned. Automatically coded to the passenger, the cabin class associated with the scanned boarding pass and the duration of the flight (i.e. card and code regenerated for every passenger at every boarding). There, fixed. No need for anyone to feel guilty about accessing facilities they haven’t paid for.

  27. respawn

    March 15, 2019 at 11:54 am

    We’re all adults. Regardless of the cabin bathroom rules and our opinions on those here, there’s no reason for any adult to have stand there and be subjected to a lecture from another adult. OP was not wrong, IMHO.

  28. mrcalvin

    March 15, 2019 at 11:55 am

    We always fly Delta First Class. The restroom in our section is a free for all. There is no more curtain separating the compartments so I guess the toilet is for everyone..


    March 15, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Having a bad day doesn’t give you the right to be rude and frankly with that kind of attitude I am not surprised they wanted to break the rules. They were not the only one that needed to use the bathroom that couldn’t.

  30. lebelgo

    March 15, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Usually, I feel it’s OK for economy passengers to use the 1st class WC if they stay behind the line separating coach and 1st class. 1st class passengers shouldn’t have to wait behind main cabin passengers to use the head, but if no one’s using that WC, I don’t see any reason it should just stay empty. As long as the coach passenger is doing #1 and doesn’t dilly-dally. And yes, it’s rude to walk away while people are talking to you. To a point of course: if the lecture takes over 1-2 minutes, then it’s OK to say “Pardon me” and leave.

  31. Flyingbiker

    March 15, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    We hear so many stories of power tripping FAs in the USA , quite horrible. I have traveled Europe, Asia, Oceania for 25 years and the only place that I have encountered this behaviour from FAs is in the US and encounter it often there. The OP aknowledged the FA and was not in any way obliged to stand there like a a schoolchild and receive a “dressing down”,

  32. Tizzette

    March 15, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Saying “thank you for telling me” is not just walking off. It was a polite enough response to being told it was wrong to use the last class lav and that should have been the end of it. Just because someone wants to chew you out, you do not have to stand still and take it.

  33. UncleDude

    March 15, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    This once happened to me and I told a White Lie by saying.:

    I was downgraded from First Class due to the late arrival of your Arline’s Incoming/Connecting flight…Result SILENCE

  34. snidely

    March 15, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Couple of people posted:
    Bazzap is right – you “should” use the bathrooms in your cabin, but there are rare cases when you can’t. Read the regulations on it :

    “Domestic flights: passengers may use the lavatory in any cabin
    International flights departing the US: passengers may use the lavatory in any cabin
    International flights returning to the US: it’s TSA policy to require airlines to direct passengers to use lavatories in their ticketed class of service”

    This is according to American Airlines understanding of FAA rules.
    is this posted on any “official” website?

  35. Surfwriter

    March 15, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    So the “victim” felt entitled to privileges they neither paid for or earned just because, “Frankly, I’d had a long and difficult work day and didn’t feel like listening to her lecture. So I interrupted to say ‘thank you for telling me’ and walked away.”” Well did our “victim” or any of her equally lame supporters consider that the flight attendant had a long and difficult work day and didn’t need to deal with the “victim?” Oh, I know … it’s part of the FA’s job. In that case, so is respecting the rules part of a passenger’s job. In my opinion – and experience – of this entitlement attitude is part of envy about something someone else has. Well I’ve got news for “sassyelle.” You are entitled to nothing in this life you don’t earn. You were rude to use a bathroom you weren’t entitled to use and you were rude to walk away from the consequences of your rudeness and I hope the airline bans you if you try that one on again.

  36. Mtothe M

    March 15, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    spartacus and others: What “lecture”? Are you kidding me? You break the rules, you absolutely earn the reminder about not following the rules. Comparing some people to middle schoolers IS appropo in this situation – the whole world should revolve around THEM and THEIR feelings and THEIR needs…LOL!

    You want the special bathroom? Pay for it, and don’t come here as some silly type of “victim” when in fact the entire incident is 100% your own doing. Have some accountability, people!

  37. fahrradman

    March 16, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    I take a more nuanced approach. On domestic flights I don’t think it really matters although first class passengers should be given priority to the first class bathroom. On international flights with premium amenities in the business and/or first bathrooms, economy passengers should never use premium class bathrooms. Oh, and as long as its not safety related, I think walking away from a confrontation to de-escalate a situation is always the right approach.

  38. GetSetJetSet

    March 16, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    “First Class bathrooms are reserved for first class passengers, plain and simple. That’s it. If you are not flying first class, you can’t use those bathrooms.”

    100% this. Then after acting inappropriately this childish person walked away from the FA with an attitude. Sounds like a terrible person.

  39. CEB

    March 16, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Surfwriter hit the nail on the head, but I would add that if a self entitled Sassyelle.wishes to use the F cabin lou, a simple question would have avoided the entire issue, “I really need to go and would like to use the lou if it’s not in use?” would have done the trick. While the FA MAY have said, “Sorry, please use the aft lou,” then she had her answer. IME, even a grumpy FA would not object unless someone in F is actually using or getting up from their seat to clearly use the lou!

    Unfortunately, courtesy from entitled pax seems to have disappeared along with any consideration for others. Based on her own description, Sassyelle. misbehaved as a self entitled child, got what she deserved, and then exacerbated her misbehavior by once again behaving as a child, but the second time by being rude and impolite. Regardless of the FA’s attitude or tone of voice, the burden of personal failure falls entirely on Sassyelle..

  40. patch8

    March 17, 2019 at 8:37 am

    ok… so, a line has to be drawn somewhere. you have 12 passengers sitting in one cabin with a single restroom, and 160 passengers sitting in another cabin with 3 restrooms…. now, imagine you are one of the 12… the other cabins passengers want to use the lav in your cabin .because it is closer……there is a good chance the lav in your cabin will be in constant use with Y passengers…. are you frustrated yet?? probably a good reason this policy is in place. Obvious. exceptions might be service carts in the Y aisle blocking access, an honest bathroom emergency, pregnant women, children, the elderly and disabled passengers…..

  41. redreeper


    March 17, 2019 at 9:14 am

    FA did her job and notified passenger that they used the wrong bathroom. Passenger listened, responded and disengaged, possibly prematurely.

    This is where the matter should have died.

  42. John M Davis

    March 17, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    As someone who does fly FC the majority of the time, it doesn’t bother me too much when a coach passenger uses our restroom. we’re all the people. Just because some may be more fortunate than others shouldn’t matter. It’s just a damn bathroom. If it bothers someone that much that someone else is using their bathroom, they need to check themselves. That being said, the times that FC was full and I was in coach, I always used them coach restroom.

  43. Aidan

    March 18, 2019 at 5:53 am

    Can first class passengers use the economy toilets?

  44. ella0429

    March 20, 2019 at 5:54 am

    I agree about the power trip concerning this F/A,,,I travel in uniform,but my company pays full fare tickets,I also am a frequent flyer with high status, but for some reason crew members treat us rudely,and don’t want to help you,as for the passenger walking away,was a good thing to do to avoid escalating this trivial manner,,this flight attendant was rude,there are many you can do to avoid any conflict, there are a lot of medical conditions out there,and if you have IBS,or other bathroom problems,,you have to get to the nearest bathroom,,,everyone should be treated with respect,,,when you gotta go,you gotta go

  45. feobrien

    March 23, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    You either have rules for the different “classes” or you don’t. Customer was wrong to use the first class bathroom, I suspect she has flown before and knows better. I prefer the FA point this out to people publicly or they’ll continue to do it. I don’t think FA should berate flyers. The FA should have pointed it, the customer acknowledged and the event should have ended.

  46. Mtothe M

    March 26, 2019 at 5:24 am

    @feobrien B-b-b-but she had a “bad day” and she was “tired”! Why shouldn’t her whole (economy) experience and feelings be put above others? LOL.

    FYI: there’s been a growing portion of the population (ahem, Gen Z and milennials) that considering EVERYTHING directed towards them that’s not completely complimentary as “yelling”. I seriously doubt the FA’s volume was at a scream level – but then again, it’s not about following the rules – it’s about sassyelle’s “feelings”…SMH.

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