Despite properly disposing the diaper in the airplane's trash, one poor mom received a verbal lashing from a flight attendant. Now, she's livid—and spreading her horrific story.

By Beth Ann Mayer
July 13, 2021
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One mom is speaking out after a flight attendant not only humiliated her while she was traveling with her family, but personally called her to let her know she had been placed on the airline's "no-fly" list. It's all over a dirty diaper that was placed in the airplane's trash.

Farah Naz Khan, 34, says she, her husband, and their daughter, who is under two, were flying from Kalispell, Mont., to Houston on Mesa Airlines. Midway through the flight, which is four hours if flying direct, her daughter needed a diaper change.

Like most parents would do, Khan took her daughter to the changing station in the back of the plane. She threw the diaper out by placing it in a scented bag, which is something she had done while flying on Mesa Airlines before.

End of story? Not quite.

An image of an airplane in the sky.
Credit: Getty Images.

As Khan made her way back to her seat with her daughter, she says a male flight attendant approached her. It wasn't a pleasant conversation.

"When I walked back to the front holding my diaper wipes container and the pad that we used to change my daughter's diaper on, the flight attendant accosted me and said: 'Did you just dispose of a diaper back there? That's a biohazard,'" Khan told NBCNews.com.

Khan says that the flight attendant didn't let her get a word in and continued to yell at her. Finally, she was able to ask whether he wanted her to go retrieve the soiled diaper from the trash. He said yes.

Khan told NBCNews.com she felt "humiliated" retrieving the dirty diaper out of the garbage bin. She found another flight attendant and asked for a bag to put it in and, to her surprise, was told she had done nothing wrong. According to Khan, the other flight attendant asked their colleague to discuss the matter, but he declined.

After filing a customer service incident report upon landing, the poor woman says she got a call from a 1-800 number—and it wasn't from customer service apologizing for the matter. It was from the flight attendant, whose voice she recognized immediately.

"He said, 'Due to a biohazard incident on the plane today, we've placed you on the no-fly list,'" Khan told NBCNews.com. "This made me very angry because I suffered the humiliating experience…They are placing me on a no-fly list?" Khan said. "I also didn't dispose of the diaper on the plane, even if it was considered a biohazard. I walked it off the plane and threw it away myself outside the flight."

A spokesperson for Mesa told NBCNews.com: "The details as described by our customer do not meet the high standards that Mesa sets for our flight attendants, and we are reviewing the matter."

The good news is that Khan was able to fly back to Houston on Monday and doesn't think she's actually on the no-fly list. She also tweeted about the incident, and many of the more than 150 comments are outraged for her.

Of course, Khan is now (understandably) upset and worried about how the flight attendant obtained her contact information. She has not spoken with representatives from the airline, but says she received two "unsatisfying" calls from United, who contracts Mesa for regional flights. She says they wouldn't tell her his identity, whether he'd be disciplined, or explain how he got her cell phone number.

She's concerned—and is considering suing: "I'm legitimately worried about this person. Over a diaper, if he's able to call me and say those things, what else could he be capable of?"

United referred all of NBCNews.com's inquiries to Mesa Airlines.

Not only was the whole horrific scene unnecessary, but it was pure harassment. Flying with a child can be stressful enough. Tack on other passengers judging you for your child's meltdown, and now flight attendants getting upset over dirty diaper disposals, and it's all just too much parent shaming.

Rude flight attendants aside, experts share you can make life easier on yourself and your child when flying by following a few tips:

  • Board first and deplane last. If your flight attendants are empathetic human beings, they are more likely to be able to help you with fewer people on board.
  • Dress cozy. Wear clothes that will keep you relaxed during what can be a stressful enough experience.
  • Ask for help. Unlike this Mesa attendant, most members of the crew are ready and willing to help.