Tim Foolery

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Glamorous Business Travel

Anyone who thinks regular business travel is glamorous either has never traveled for work or has one of those elusive jobs where you travel to picture perfect places and aren’t dealing with the general public… I have never met anyone with a job like that.

I spent some time in Seattle for work recently, which had consisted of long days and a few technology hiccups, all of which were pretty run of the mill. The flight back home is where things took a stomach churning turn for the worse.

I was seated in 5B on an older B757. I still love United’s B757 for transcontinental travel (not intercontinental though!) – I love turning left for the First Class Cabin. This frees up the aisle so you can get a nice pre-departure beverage and not get bumped by the 100+ people sitting behind you.

All started out well enough. We boarded, we got a drink, we had a quick roll and a flawless take off. Lunch was served and by the time they got to me, the pasta option was gone and only the Beef Provançale was left. The Stew called it the Provonckal…with a very hard “Kah” sound. It tore my Francophile ear to shreds. Fine. I’ll have the beef.

The gentlemen in 6E (across the aisle and one row behind me), began eating his pasta and through my noise cancelling headphones I heard a bit of a commotion. I turn back and I see him profusely vomitting all over his tray of food. I don’t mean he had a little air sickness or a sour stomach. He was profusely coughing, but he wasn’t choking. It was like someone turned on the vomit spigot to full blast. He was just pouring his insides out onto his tray.

The poor guy next to him (trapped in the window seat) began frantically ringing the call button (rightfully so). The Stew came back and saw the mayhem that had commenced and she turns and runs back to the galley. Within 10 seconds she had returned with gloves and a dust mask (for some reason) and a big hefty kitchen trash bag.

He continued to vomit.

She gave him a couple air sickness bags.

He continued to vomit. Not just a regular total evacuation of your insides either. He was pouring vomit from his mouth and nose. And the nose vomit was blowing big bubbles as it escaped, as if the vomit was cheering its new found freedom. It took everything for me not to become his second in a vomit duo 35,000 feet above Idaho.

The Stew grabbed his tray and dumped it into the garbage bag and he, in a muffled, vomit stoked yell, said he wasn’t finished with his meal. Yes, the meal on which he had just regurgitated at least a liter of goo. The Stew ignored him and hurried back to the galley.

The second Stew come back to help, but she’s wearing more personal protective equipment, including what appears to be an apron, but not a traditional serving apron. No, this apron looked like something from Saw or Hostel…it was like she decided the only way to remedy this situation was to dismember this passenger.

Luckily it didn’t come to that.

He had finished vomiting. The Stews did a stellar job of cleaning up all the nastiness that had befallen that seat (at least as I could tell from the relative comfort of Seat 5B).

This guy wasnt drunk. This guy didn’t appear to have issues any other time in the flight. He looked pale, but that often happens when you throw up 5% of your body weight while in transit. He didn’t look sick (like he was undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment…and I can personally attest to how awful those flights are when traveling with someone who is). I don’t know what the trigger was, but I am sure as shit happy as a mother fucking clam that I didn’t sit next to that poor bastard.

Do you think United called in a special maintenance ticket to clean the shit out of that seat…or did the just wipe it down with a Clorox wipe and move on to the next destination. The poor sap who sat in 6E on the next leg likely had no idea what awfulness his seat had just gone through.

Oh the humanity.

What’s the grossest thing you’ve seen while traveling on a plane?


  1. Brad Argue says:

    Very much agree with your first paragraph. What a nightmare, but it made for a hilarious post. I’ve flown around 2 million miles through the years, and never encountered anything like that. Just wow.

    • Tim says:

      I’ve only been this close to an obvious vomitter while in flight once before (flown about 1M miles here) and he was a very nervous flyer who was horrendously hung over. His sickness came to full effect after a terrifying aborted take over (runway incursion, brakes smoking, abrupt turn, lots of screaming and tears). He kept his sickness bag close and his aim was stellar.

  2. jamijet says:

    leave him alone.. its not his fault he has air sickness… ! Ive flown many many miles and I have encountered lots of vomiting.. there is a reason for those sick bags in the seat pocket in front of you.. Thats fine with me, just keep it in the bag..!

    • Tim says:

      Things happen, people get sick (and he wasn’t a drunk getting sick, which I have no tolerance for). To your point, keep it in the bag…and if you do throw up all over your food tray, don’t argue and try to keep it to finish eating.

  3. msdafoe says:

    I very recently had a similar situation but unfortunately I don’t get to do my business travel in Business. Middle of the night on a 6 hour flight a man throws up in his sleep. I don’t even know how that’s possible. But I’ve never felt so trapped before that’s for sure!! Poor guy, no one plans for that…

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