American Airlines, Urine Trouble

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Mike Feinberg wants to start a new campaign.  He wants to call it the "check your seat" campaign.

As a sales representative for a medical supplies company, Feinberg flies a lot.  He's experienced flight delays, long waits on the tarmac and bad customer service.  But he'd never experienced anything like what he encountered on an American Airlines' flight on Jan. 12, 2016.

He was returning to Des Moines from St. Louis when he started to feel uncomfortable.  He asked himself, "What is this feeling?"  And then realized, "Oh, I'm wet."

By this time, Feinberg had been sitting in his first class seat - an upgrade - for about an hour.

"I turn to the gentleman next to me... and I go, 'Is your seat wet?'  And he goes, 'No.'  And I said, 'Mine is.'"

It didn't take long for Feinberg to realize what he was sitting in.

"So, I just kind of reach down between my seat to see what's going on, and I go, 'It's urine.'"

Feinberg, whose pants were now soaked, contacted the flight attendant, who offered him blankets and a plastic bag to sit on.  She also explained that an older passenger on a previous flight appeared to have trouble making it to the restroom and "must have missed once."

Feinberg's experience with American Airlines didn't get much better when he reached the gate, about three hours later.  He says he explained the situation to the gate attendant, who "looked at me like that's terrible, but what do you want me to do about it."

American eventually provided a shower and a pair of pajamas for Feinberg to change into.  An airline representative also offered a $200 voucher for a future flight.

Feinberg characterizes that as "an insult."  He also says the bigger issue is how American Airlines cleans its planes between flights and how the airline handles bio-hazardous waste.

"I don't know who was sitting there before.  He could have been the nicest guy in the world, but could have Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, could have had Ebola.  I don't know what the guy had."

American Airlines refused to give Feinberg its protocols for dealing with bio-hazardous waste, saying it’s a privacy issue.

“Biohazard is not a privacy issue. It’s a policy. It’s a procedure,” Feinberg said.

When Channel 13's Sonya Heitshusen contacted American Airlines, a spokesperson said, "Our aircraft cleaners are trained to look for visible items like trash left on the seats, floor and seatback pockets.  We regret that the cleaners did not detect that this particular seat was wet.  If our customer service agents or flight crew had been notified before the flight, we would have removed the affected seat cushion and replaced it with a new, clean one."

The airline also increased Feinberg's compensation to $1,000, refunded the 10,000 frequent flyer miles he'd used on the flight and paid for his $500 suit.

However, the airline did not provide us with its policy regarding the disposal of bio-hazardous waste.

"The biggest issue is what are we gonna do in the future when this happens to people?" asks Feinberg.

Feinberg knows what he'll do in the future.

"I'll check my seat first before I sit down.  I don't want any more surprises."