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Airlines

Economy Flyer Uses Business Lav, Gets Handcuffed & Booted

Economy Flyer Uses Business Lav, Gets Handcuffed & Booted
Joe Cortez

An Air Berlin passenger claims she was escorted off her flight in handcuffs after becoming sick in a business class lavatory, while the airline claims they were left with no choice.

Air Berlin and a disgruntled female flyer are offering two different stories as to how and why she was escorted off an aircraft. Slovakian Edita Kmetova, 50, says she was removed from an Air Berlin flight in handcuffs after becoming ill onboard, but the airline is defending its decision to escort her off the flight.

Kmetova claims the incident occurred while she was aboard a flight from Vienna to Abu Dhabi last week, when she had a sudden onset of airsickness and needed to use the lavatory. According to her account, the economy class restrooms were occupied, requiring her to run to the business class lavatory for relief, even though passengers in that section of the plane objected to her being there.

When she exited the lavatory, Kmetova alleges she was met outside by cabin crew, angry passengers and one of the pilots. Kmetova was reportedly handcuffed after an argument ensued, and the pilot decided to make an emergency landing at Erzurum Airport (ERZ) in Turkey to have her removed from the aircraft.

“They then abandoned me in Erzurum, a place I could not even find on a map if I tried,” Kmetova told local BGN News. “I was left all alone. At that point, I broke down into tears.”

The airline is disputing Kmetova’s recollection of events. A spokesperson for Air Berlin told the Daily Mail Kmetova was “disruptive” on the flight and although “the crew did everything possible to calm the guest and ensure the safety on board,” the diversion was necessary.

“Due to the passenger’s aggressive behavior towards the crew and other travelers, however, it was not possible to continue with the flight as planned. As Air Berlin places a great deal of importance on in-flight safety, the pilots decided to make an unscheduled stop at Erzurum in Turkey, where the passenger was handed over to the police.”

The pilot reportedly refused to allow Kmetova back onboard after the incident. The night manager at ERZ, Abubekir Özcan, took to Facebook to share how upsetting the entire ordeal was.

“The business class toilet is used by a few people while the economy class serves almost 200, when she used it, things got out of hand,” wrote Özcan. “When we were contacted, we thought something serious had happened … When I approached her I saw an elderly woman crying and she was handcuffed. She was the only Slovakian on the plane. The rest were Austrians. I had her handcuffs removed and escorted her out of the plane.”

[Photo: iStock]

View Comments (16)

16 Comments

  1. djjaguar64

    October 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Austrians are not very welcoming of foreigners?

  2. chrisny2

    October 28, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Clearly there’s more to the story. The business class wouldn’t just get up and start an uprising because someone used the lavatory in that cabin.

  3. switch007

    October 28, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Airline will try to justify the behaviour leading to the handcuffs, but won’t comment on what happened to lead to said behaviour? The person will ill for god’s sake!

  4. diburning

    October 28, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    As much as I prefer that the crew restrict lav use to passengers in their own cabins, I also think it’s despicable to deny someone who has an emergency or is ill. It’s a natural biological function, and we as people shouldn’t deny other people from performing those biological functions if there are no other alternatives.

  5. pseudo

    October 28, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    I would like to hear the airlines commentary of the passengers disruptive behavior.

    Sounds really suspect they diverted a flight to remove a passenger and not prosecute

  6. writerguyfl

    October 28, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Shouldn’t FT’s bloggers follow FT’s rules? The photo caption on the Flyer Talk home page uses characters to obscure profanity.

    FT Rule #16: “Use of obscene or offensive language/material: Using symbols, spaces or other methods to mask vulgarities is not allowed.”

  7. chx1975

    October 28, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    There’s more to this story. An unscheduled stop like this is no small thing. Delay to the flight, the cost of fuel etc. I have very serious doubts someone literally running into the biz toilet upon leaving would be met with angry passengers. Sure, the FA would say a word or two and some angry stares might ensue but I can’t imagine anyone standing up and entering into a confrontation over just that. Something else must have happened before the lady entered that washroom.

  8. Sydneyberlin

    October 29, 2015 at 4:24 am

    At least one airline is doing the right thing and refuses those cheap ticket holders from the back to use the Business class toilets! I wish all airlines were that strict about their own rules. “Sudden sickness”, yea yea…

  9. skoullias

    October 29, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Actually, this is very similar to something that happened to me. I had to urgently use the restroom on a transatlantic flight, after a meal when the bathrooms are backed up. After attempting to use the first class restroom (first class had maybe 5 passengers, BTW), the an attendant rushed in front of me, blocking my passage, and then lied in my face, saying the bathroom was out of service. She reached up to latch it shut from the outside. After about twenty minutes, when I was still on line in the economy section, she came back to reprimand me for having attempted to use the first class bathroom after being told by one of her colleagues doing so was verboten. When I asked her to show me if the bathroom was actually out of order, she clamed up and walked away. Air Berlin attendants seem to have been trained by the Wehrmacht.

  10. Dave510

    October 29, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Airlines don’t eat up the cost and divert for no good reason, and if there was an argument going on, it certainly takes 2 parties to have an argument in the first place.

    It’s true that being airsick or ill isn’t in one’s control, but she did use the business lav when she was not normally entitled to that, so she should’ve been apologetic instead of argumentative. I seriously doubt she would be handcuffed and removed from the plane if she sincerely apologized and explained her situation.

  11. cmd320

    October 29, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Wish more airlines would do this…

    Also, the title of this is misleading.

  12. walkup

    October 29, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Sounds as if she entered the business class section with an attitude problem.

  13. 110pgl

    October 29, 2015 at 7:55 am

    “lovakian Edita Kmetova, 50, says she was removed…”

    “When I approached her I saw an elderly woman crying and she was handcuffed.”

    50 is now elderly? Yikes! :)

  14. Flying Lawyer

    Flying Lawyer

    October 29, 2015 at 8:38 am

    The headline is obviously (a) showing that the writer did poor research, (b) is hashing for clicks and (c) only tells half of the story. Beside that it appears to be a plain copy of what was published by the Daily Mail in the UK.

    With only a bit own research it would have been easy to find out that it was not an AB flight but a Niki (HG) flight. Albeit HB belongs to AB it is an airline of its own under its own flight HG flight number.

    And right, the pilot did not take an easy decision because that idiot passenger – according to the airline – tried to bite and kick the flight attendants.

    You need to hear the other party too – pretty old wisdom for any serious journalist. What we read here is a poor piece of journalism by Joe Cortez.

  15. lperruso

    October 29, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    The airlines themselves are to blame for a lot of the hostility. It seems obvious that way too many people are expected to use the lavs in the economy seats. And on international flights, where passengers are in the air for 10 or more hours it’s outrageous. Airlines should consider the dangers of so many people standing in the isles. I understand that business class passengers don’t want to share the lavs with economy travelers, but I bet they really loved the “detour” to Turkey.

  16. payam81

    November 2, 2015 at 6:00 am

    @skoullias if you can wait 20 minutes in line, your business is NOT urgent.

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