This May Be the Ugliest Airline Story You’ve Heard This Year

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Ugliest Airline Story

A mess. A complete mess.

Imagine being faced with this situation as a passenger. You wouldn’t like it.

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

It was an 11-hour flight.

A British businessman was flying from London to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Andrew Wilkinson had paid British Airways more than $1,500 for his seat. In economy, no less.

He arrived at the seat and noticed it was a little wet.

Please start holding your nose.

On closer inspection, the wetness was revealed to be, well, here’s what he told the Mirror: “At first I thought it was water but the smell was so distinct it could only have been urine.”

Ah. Oh, Ugh.

Still, you’d think the least the cabin crew could do would be to clean up the seat.

Instead, Wilkinson said the flight attendant “went to the toilet and brought me seat wipes and told me to clean it up myself.”

Please keep holding your nose.

“I was in economy and it was full but they could have bumped someone up from business to first class and freed up a seat that way. I said to the stewardess: ‘You are obviously going to move me into business, aren’t you? I can’t really sit here.'”

With airlines, there is no obviously. There is occasionally eventually. There’s often never.

Wilkinson wasn’t upgraded. He was left in the stinking, urine-soaked seat for 11 hours.

The flight attendant even had the gall to say to Wilkinson: “You are going to work me hard on this flight, aren’t you?”

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One might imagine that someone in so-called customer service would, indeed, work hard to try and rectify the situation.

This doesn’t appear to have been the case here.

Wilkinson tried to put a plastic bag on the seat, as well as a blanket. A request for a second blanket fell on deaf ears, he said.

I contacted British Airways to wonder if, as the Brits might say, the airline was taking the piss.

Especially as the initial compensation offered to Wilkinson was a mere 5,000 Avios points. Otherwise known as a cup of coffee.

An airline spokeswoman told me: “We were very concerned to hear about this and have been in touch with our customer to apologize and make amends. The cleanliness of our aircraft is of the utmost importance to us and our planes are cleaned thoroughly after every flight. We also perform frequent spot checks to make sure our cleaners are maintaining our high standards.”

Spot checks? Wilkinson said this urine spot was as big as two decks of cards.

British Airways isn’t alone in sometimes providing at best reluctant service.

Last year, I got on a Virgin Atlantic flight, only to discover that instead of a seat, I’d been given a thin foam cushion.

It wasn’t exactly comfortable. The airline told me that it had been forced into a temporary fix. Yes, it was a brand new Dreamliner.

In Wilkinson’s case, there’s simply no excuse. There’s also no excuse for the airline not getting him away from that seat.

But one assumes that the flight attendant was following some sort of rule.

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A rule that caused one big PR mess.