This morning, our plane was towed over to the gate from remote where it was getting a few maintenance checks and given a "clean bill of health" before we headed down and onto the aircraft to get it ready for the first flight of the day.
We board up our full flight to Raleigh- Durham. I'm up front waiting for the last passenger on to get seated and settled in before I start my passenger count. As I am waiting, I hear a "ding", one I know all to familiar. I look to see someone has pressed their Flight Attendant Call Button near the back, actually the second to last row. I peek back trying to guess what this passenger might want from me. A pillow, a blanket, newspaper, cup of water to take some medicine, take the trash I brought on board, more heat, less heat... the list of usual requests flies through my head. I'm always amazed by the things that passengers ring the flight attendant call button for.
I walk back to where my passenger is sitting and stand in front of two women. They stare at me, I stare at them. I smile and say in my best Flight Attendant voice, "Can I help you?"
"The LAV" she says. "The Lave stinks!!!"
At that moment as I stare into her horror stricken eyes I smell it. A disgusting and very offensive smell attacks my nose. It IS the lav and it really stinks! (Oh, and while I really don't think people should ring their call button for most of the things they do during boarding- we are busy- this is a VERY appropriate use of a call button ring during boarding!)
The lady next to her is shaking her head up and down, up and down. "Please do something" she pleads.
I look at the lav... I am afraid, really afraid of opening that door!
I open the overhead bin and get out the "Lav spray" as we all call it. I've successfully used this spray on many flights to cover up the odors of a few gassy passengers, some passengers who have spent a little too much time in the lavatory, anytime someone has gotten sick and the occasional really smelly person.
I look around at the horrified and disgusted faces all around me and before I push the door open I whisper... "Hold your breath".
The intensity of the smell hits me as I spray down the Lav as fast as I can. It's not doing a dang thing.
I shut the door and spray up and down the aisle and still nothing. I quickly head up front and beg the Captain to get a lav service as quick as possible. By the look on their faces I knew that they could smell it and this would be quick. They made a nice little call to operations and within a few minutes people were working on the inside and outside of the aircraft.
The paperwork was out and we were all ready to shut the door and push the aircraft as we waited on the lav "cleaners". I watched the lady in the back working her magic on our bathroom and suggested to the crew that we just take her with us. Like the posh and upscale bars and clubs that have the bathroom attendant handing out mints and paper towels, our lav lady could give sprays of the lav spray as the passengers entered and exited. I would definitely tip her today, that is for sure!
By the time we pushed, the back half of the aircraft no longer had me gagging and the passengers seemed to be a bit more comfortable. I think I put up a good fight but this Lav had me beat. However, in the end, the lav was not the ultimate winner.
Just for that, when we switched aircrafts for our next flight and I found a clean, non-smelly lav.... i decided it was finally time to join the others in the Laviators club...