Can this trip be saved? Soaked on my way to LAX

By | July 11th, 2011

Avoid seat 32J if you’re flying Air Pacific between Fiji and Los Angeles. Jimme Peters had the misfortune of being stuck in it for the 11-hour flight, and she’s got the scars to prove it.

A vent over 32J is leaking, according to Peters — badly.

The signs of trouble started the moment she boarded. “I noticed paper towels stuffed in the air vents over the top of my seat,” she remembers. “The flight crew came through while everyone was boarding and would dab the water on the ceiling and replace the napkins.”

Occasionally, I would feel a drip, but the flight attendant apologized stating that the air conditioning caused condensation and it would cease upon taking off. I thought it was not a big deal and seemed like a reasonable explanation, so I did not think much about it.

It became a big deal after the flight took off.

A large amount of water dumped on my head, body, floor, and seat until the plane leveled out at altitude. I held a blanket over my head to try to shield my face from the smelly water, but this was lost cause. The water was running through the blanket down my arms and all over my head and torso.

The water soaked me clear through all my clothes and shoes. It was like taking a dirty water shower in my seat with my clothes on. My makeup was running down my face, hair was soaked, and I was just miserable.

I was captive in my seat for about 15 minutes as the seat belt sign was on and all passengers and crew had to remain seated.

Since the crew was seated right behind me, they were well aware of what was happening.

After the “fasten seat belt sign” was switched off, the flight attendants came over and apologized for the wetness, but because the flight was completely full, there wasn’t much they could do.

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“The flight attendant stated that the plane is in disrepair, they have reported the leaking issue many times and this was not the first incident where a passenger experienced a big, wet mess,” she says.

Eventually, the attendants found an empty seat for her. But the damage was already done.

Since the flight, my life has been upended and I have suffered from illness.

I have been sick for more than a week with a head cold, congestion and sore throat that caused me to lose my voice. This is a result of being
soaked from filthy water in an air conditioning pump for this horrendous ten hour flight all the while re-circulated air was passing over me.

I sought a doctor’s care mid-last week and was told to rest and take cold medicine, my body would have to expel the infection over time.

This experience has made my Fiji trip memorable, in a bad way. My jacket was ruined from the water as it was dry clean only clothing. My Italian leather sandals are also misshapen and destroyed from the mass influx of water.

So why would Air Pacific continue to operate a plane that was leaking? Good question, and it’s one Peters asked of the airline in a polite email.

Air Pacific hasn’t responded, even though the flight took place in early May.

I think we can all agree that an airline ticket entitles you to a dry seat on a plane. But what, if anything, does Air Pacific owe her?

At a minimum, I think it should respond to her email and explain what happened to 32J, and maybe assure her the problem has been fixed. I think she should submit a bill for her jacket and sandals, if she hasn’t already.

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Here’s how an airline would see this mess, and why I’m doubtful the carrier will offer a meaningful response. We sold you a seat between Fiji and Los Angeles, and we got you there. We offered you a better seat when the one you were sitting in got a little wet. What more do you want?

And so all of that makes me wonder if this is a case I should — or could — mediate.

(Photo: iamb ents/Flickr Creative Commons)

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