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United passenger: 'Attendants forced me to pee in a cup at my seat'

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 11/05/2017 Mike Moffitt

A United Airlines Boeing 777-200, with Tail Number N796UA, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco © REUTERS/Louis Nastro A United Airlines Boeing 777-200, with Tail Number N796UA, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco

A Kansas City nurse says she was forced to urinate into a plastic a cup at her seat on a United flight after attendants barred her from using the plane's lavatory.

Nicole Harper shared the humiliating story — which occurred April 9, the same day that 69-year-old David Dao was injured while being dragged off a United flight — in a Facebook post Saturday. 

Harper said attendants would not let her go to the bathroom because the captain had turned on the seat belt sign around the midpoint of her flight.

"After explaining that I have an overactive bladder and would either need to use the restroom or pee in a cup, I was handed a cup by flight attendants," she wrote.

But relieving herself while in her seat wasn't even the worst part of the incident, she says.

After she was done — and with the seat belt light now off — she and her filled cup were escorted to the lavatory by attendants, who "treated me like I had committed a crime." According to Harper, they said they would be calling in a hazmat team to clean the entire row (despite the fact that there was no spillage, she says) and that she would have to speak with the pilot.

"I guess they would have preferred me to pee (on) the seat? After all they were the ones that gave me the cups knowing what I was planning to do with it," she wrote.

Harper says she has repeatedly tried to reach United to register a complaint over the way she was treated.

"As an emergency room nurse, I completely understand having a bad day on the job and having to deal with undesirable bodily fluids. What I don't understand is ZERO customer service, if I treated a patient this poorly I would surely have consequences."

In a follow-up to her account, she wrote, "I attempted to reach (United) multiple times over the past 2 weeks and was repetitively told customer service would not take my call."

Harper said she will be canceling her miles credit card and will no longer fly the airline.

She said that a United executive customer service did call her after her story was picked up by media.

The Charlotte Observer, via KCTV, reported that United issued the following statement in response to Harper's allegations.

"Initial reports from our flight attendants indicate that Ms. Harper attempted to visit the lavatory on final descent and was instructed to remain seated with the seat belt fastened per FAA regulations. The situation described by Ms. Harper and our employees is upsetting for all involved. We have reached out to Ms. Harper and our flying partner Mesa Airlines to better understand what occurred."

Harper maintains that the incident did not occur during the descent, but during the mid-portion of the flight.

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