A Seattle doctor claims she was ‘humiliated and ‘belittled’ by a flight attendant after she disposed of her young daughter’s dirty diaper in the restroom trash can, and was later told she was placed on the ‘no-fly’ list for disposing of a ‘biohazard.’
Farah Naz Khan, 34, was traveling on a United Airlines flight from Kalispell, Montana to Houston with her husband and her daughter, who is under the age of 2, on Friday.
About halfway through flight, which was operated by United’s regional partner Mesa Airlines, Khan said she brought her daughter to a diaper changing station in the rear of the plane and threw out her daughter’s dirty diaper in a scented bag, as she had done on previous flights.
On her way back to her seat, though, she claims, a white, male flight attendant in first class confronted her.
‘When I walked back to the front holding my diaper wipes container, and like the pad that we use to change my daughter’s diaper on, the flight attendant accosted me and said: “Did you dispose of a diaper back there? That’s a biohazard,”‘ Khan recounted to NBC News.
She said she tried to explain her situation to the flight attendant and asked him whether he wanted her to retrieve the used diaper, and he said ‘yes.’
Farah Naz Khan, a 34-year-old mother from Seattle, claims a flight attendant on a United Airlines flight accosted her after she threw away her young daughter’s dirty diaper in the bathroom garbage
She said she wrapped the dirty diaper in a scented bag before disposing it, as she had done on other flights in the past. Pictured is what Khan carries with her on flights
So, she started fishing through the garage bin, making her feel ‘humiliated’ and ‘belittled,’ which turned to anger when she asked another flight attendant for a garbage bag to put the diaper in, and he told her she did not do anything wrong.
Khan said she then tried to once again talk to the flight attendant who had accosted her, whose name she did not get, but ‘he yelled at me again and said he didn’t want to deal with me.’
Ultimately, Khan said, she disposed of the dirty diaper when she got off the flight in Houston, and promptly filed a formal complaint with United and the Federal Aviation Administration.
About three hours later, she said, she got a call from an unidentified 1-800 number, and when she picked up the phone, she realized it was the flight attendant on the line.
‘I recognized the voice,’ she said, adding that he told her “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,’ she told NBC. ‘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.’
She said the phone call with the flight attendant then became ‘scary,’ as he started spewing profanities at her, and told her: “You people bring your children everywhere. Don’t you know that some people just want a peaceful flight and don’t want to listen to your effing children.”
He allegedly also told her: “You people should just drive everywhere,” according to KIRO News.
Khan, a Muslim American of South Asian descent, said she did not know what he meant by ‘you people,’ but thought it sounded derogatory.
She later put the phone call on speaker, as her daughter was talking, allegedly prompting the flight attendant to tell her, “I hear your obnoxious daughter in the background.”
She hung up on him shortly thereafter.
A United Airlines representative told KOMO that Khan had not actually been placed on the no-fly list, and she was able to travel back to Seattle on Monday.
The airline said in a statement to the news channel: ‘We have reached out to our customer and our regional partner Mesa Airlines, who operated this flight, to get a better understanding of what occurred.’
Representatives from Mesa, meanwhile, said in a statement: ‘The details as described by our customer do not meet the high standards that Mesa sets for our flight attendants and we are reviewing the matter.’
Khan told KIRO News that the flight attendant later called her and told her “You people bring your children everywhere,” and “You people should just drive”
The flight was operated by United Airlines’ regional partner, Mesa Airlines
But as of Monday afternoon, Khan said no one from Mesa Airlines had contacted her.
She said she received two calls from United Airlines, both of which lasted less than 10 minutes as the airline would not tell her the flight attendant’s name, how he got her cell phone number or whether he had been disciplined.
No one even offered her an apology, she claimed, and she is now considering suing the airline for the flight attendant’s information so she can take out a restraining order against him.
‘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?’
‘I don’t know how to protect my family from somebody who seems clearly unhinged,’ she added. ‘So what do I do?’
She said she is also concerned that he was able to get her personal phone number.
‘I’m a doctor,’ she told KOMO News. ‘Protection and privacy of information is sacred to me, and so the fear stems from what else he was able to access, what else he is willing to do, what else he is willing to act on.’
After posting about her ordeal on social media, several people expressed their support and tweeted to United Airlines to demand answers
Khan has since spoken out about the ordeal, sharing her story on her social media, and writing on Facebook, ‘In defense of my toddler, she slept for two of the four hours of the flight and was really well-behaved for most of the rest of the flight.’
Soon after, responses started in from people offering Khan their support and demanding answers from United Airlines.
Arfah Shafquat, for example, tweeted: ‘Flying with a toddler is daunting on its own let alone the added racism and pure indecency. I’m shocked that United hasn’t responded to this already.’
Farhan Abdullah, meanwhile, wrote: ‘I’m definitely never flying United with my family again and am going to spread the word to the rest of my friends and family after hearing what happened to [Farah.]
‘How are we supposed to feel safe with a flight attendant who thinks we’re lesser than others?’
And another Twitter user, only identified as Joyce, wrote to United Airlines that the flight attendant ‘is out of control’ and his behavior is unacceptable.
‘You need to respond and make this right,’ she wrote. ‘I want you to pull up this call made from YOUR corporate phone number and make it available.
‘This is disgusting on so many levels,’ she added.
Now, CAIR Washington, the Council for American-Islamic Relations, is calling on the airlines to investigate Khan’s claims.
‘Being a brown Muslim woman, one would think that maybe this is because of her skin tone or ethnic background, so it really raises a lot of questions for us, and we really call on United Airlines and Mesa Airlines to address this issue very quickly,’ Imran Siddiq, executive director of CAIR Washington told KOMO.
‘It violates every level of professionalism, but it’s also a violation of this woman’s privacy and her civil rights.’