JetBlue toilet seat scandal: Gadling readers react

Gokhan Mutlu made headlines earlier this week after a JetBlue captain forced him to sit in the toilet for three hours on a flight from California to New York when his seat was taken by an off-duty flight attendant. Mutlu is suing JetBlue for $2 million over the incident.

On Thursday I asked who out there thought that Mutlu seeking $2 million is a little bit excessive. Some Gadling readers responded that it indeed is.

Shane said Mutlu is getting his 15 minutes of fame (which is probably over by now):

I tend to agree with you about American’s being litigation crazy and you ask a great question! But a hard one to answer – he’s certainly getting his 15 minutes of fame at the expense of JetBlue (rightly so) but $2 million is a lot of money and I agree that it’s a bit excessive. If I was the competition I just might step up and make one of the offers that you suggested just to make JetBlue look like heels for not doing it first!

Debbie, of the curiously named blog Delicious Baby, considered the fine line of what Mutlu could have sued for, and also chimed in with her own mistreatment:

Two million seems steep for 6 hours of suffering (I’d be willing to sit on that toilet from California to New York for a mere 1 million.

It would be interesting to know how his lawyers came up with this number. 10k would have barely made Jet Blue take notice of the issue, perhaps the 2 million dollar number is more about drawing attention to the way that passengers are sometimes treated on airplanes & making sure that JetBlue sets some limits on employee behavior.

I fly a lot (and often with two small children). Flight attendants often ask me to do things that I know aren’t right. I’ve had them make snarky comments about me nursing on a plane, tell me I can’t get up to stretch in my seat area during meal service (with the seatbelt light off), refuse to give me more than a few ounces of bottled water to mix formula with (a sympathetic flight attendant sneaked me some later with the warning “don’t tell anyone”.)

On one particularly unhappy British Airways flight, I even had a gate agent decide that she needed to personally inspect my carryon to make sure it had “only essential items that would pass through security” and insist that I could only bring a couple of diapers for my trip from Paris to Seattle!

BrianM got a little biblical with his reaction:

Hopefully the judge is one to think about and offer alternative solutions. Personally, I like the “eye for an eye” approach on these kinds of things. Ground the pilot without pay for a month or two and refund the ticket price. Costs Jet Blue net to nothing and punishes the PERSON (not company) who generated the situation. I sure wouldn’t mind seeing the flight attendant get in on some of that “no pay” action too, since she is the root cause of the whole issue.

The $2mil is just to make the company take notice. Chances are VERY good for a settlement, and I bet if anyone remembers this story after the next day or two, that’s what will be seen.

Some readers, like Sam, are taking the side of Mutlu, saying you need a big number like $2 million to get a corporation’s attention.

Personally I think that 2 million is just an arbitrarily high sum to ensure that he does get everything that is coming to him.

I am not a proponent of litigious activity but in this case I think it is fully justified. Not only was it a matter of discomfort and inconvenience but reckless endangerment.

The comfort of an employee WHO HAD A SEAT should not come before a customer (paying or not) having to sit in any place without a seatbelt.

It was certainly not within standard procedure to make the man sit in the bathroom so I would have thought that making him sit in the jumpseat (which isn’t standard procedure) would have been the preferred measure, as at least it has a seatbelt.

Reader WhatNext put it succinctly:

They disrespected him, humiliated him and endangered him. Now if this was your child…could any amount, leave alone $2M be enough? Why is disrespecting, humiliating and endangering worth different for different classes of people?

And what of the pilot who forced Mutlu to sit in the toilet? That’s what Rob wants to know:

The pilot should have not been able to take off because the person in the toilet did not have his seat belt on. It is the Pilot’s responsibility. Has the FAA contacted Jet Blue for the safety violations??

Keep chiming in on this issue.

In closing, one of the issues behind this whole story was that Mutlu was flying on a ‘buddy ticket’. Just what is a buddy ticket? Travel blogger Christopher Elliott makes that the subject of his latest post, in which he makes the case that a buddy ticket is a far cry from a perk.