Dog Poop Incident Grounds a United Airlines Flight

by Britt
Photo credit: Javier Brosch /

Have you ever been on a flight where your travel experience didn’t go to plan? If so, you’re not alone! From unruly passengers to flight delays and rough weather conditions, so many factors are out of your control.

But what about a mid-air doggy disaster?

Travelers on an April 5th United Airlines flight from Houston to Seattle learned the hard way just how quickly a traveling pooch, an unfortunate aisle, and the need to “do some business” can create a very unpleasant situation.

According to Reddit user James Hobbs, a passenger’s dog had a “messy accident” in the aisle in first class after taking off. He went on to describe the chaotic situation that followed. Since his post, others have shared their experiences on the flight. Additionally, a representative from United Airlines confirmed the event occurred to reporters and larger publications.

Unfortunately, this pup didn’t just have a stinky bowel movement. Other travelers described it as being in “very liquid form” with a scent so strong that passengers were given alcohol wipes to sniff to drown out the strong odor.

After being diverted to Dallas, ground crews set to work cleaning up the putrid mess for a solid two hours. However, even that wasn’t enough…

“The mess was so bad in the first-class bathroom that even after cleaning, they still closed it for the rest of the flight,” described Hobbs. He went on to say, “The cabin crew deserve accolades. They responded well despite having to hop over the mess.”

For pet parents, this incident raises concerns that other travelers may question the policies for pets traveling in the cabin.

United Airlines allows pet parents to travel with up to two pets. Each pet must fit into a carrier small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Passengers with two pets must purchase two tickets, side by side, to accommodate the spots needed for each pet. As of April 26th, a $150 fee each way is added to your ticket cost for including a pet.

During the flight, pets are required to stay in their carrier. The recent incident has confused many frequent travelers.

How could the dog have created such a mess while still safely contained within their carrier? If the dog was removed from the carrier, why did this happen? What could have been done to prevent the mess and inconvenience to all other travelers on the flight?

While we will likely never have an answer, here are a few tips for smooth airline travel with your pet:

  • Visit the Vet Before Flying: Book a check-up with your vet before taking your dog on a flight. This will ensure your pup is in good health and help reduce the chance of “accidents” due to sickness or other complications during travel.
  • Stop Feeding 4-6 Hours Before the Flight: Make sure your dog has had a solid meal, then cut off any food approximately 4 to 6 hours before boarding the flight. This gives them time to digest and “pass” their meal before the flight.
  • Take a Final Bathroom Break: Make sure you stop at the airport’s pet relief areas just before boarding. Just as we need a final bathroom break before traveling, so do our pets.

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Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Indiana and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

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