Woman Spent Independence Day Trapped in an Airplane Bathroom

Jul 6, 2018

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On Independence Day, one unlucky traveler found herself locked inside the tiny bathroom of a Bombardier CRJ-700 during a SkyWest-operated American flight from Chicago (ORD) to Aspen (ASE).

As these things so often are, the crisis was live-tweeted by a fellow passenger, Kent Lassman. “Pilot just announced after an hour on the tarmac that we are headed back to gate,” Lassman tweeted. “The lady from the seat in front of me locked herself in the toilet…”

Lassman described how a “hipster kid from the back row” attempted to break the woman free with a credit card, to no avail. (Turns out, credit cards really are better for earning points and miles than for cavalier rescues.)

Another passenger, according to Lassman’s play-by-play, attempted to save the woman from the crappy situation but was also unsuccessful.

Ultimately, the plane returned to the gate, and ground crew came aboard with a “special tool” to rescue the trapped passenger.


Layne Watson, a SkyWest spokesperson, told TPG that the bathroom door “became inoperable…prior to departure.”

“The aircraft returned to the gate where mechanics were able to open the door within 10 minutes,” Watson said. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

Watson added that “standard tools” were used to open the lav door, and that the passenger was in “good spirits” when she was freed — impressive, considering she was in there for about 30 minutes, according to the time stamps on Lassman’s tweets. (Probably a good thing it wasn’t the abhorred 737 MAX bathroom.)

“She says the crew told her that if it had happened while airborne, it would have meant an emergency landing,” Lassman said.

In addition to the original delay caused by the bathroom door, the plane was taken out of service. And SkyWest flight 3018, operating as American Eagle, was ultimately canceled because of Colorado’s worsening wildfires, according to Watson.

Watson confirmed that American Airlines has reached out directly to all passengers involved with the AA3018 and is arranging compensation.

H/T View From the Wing.

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