It’s no secret I am not a fan of flying, yet I do it anyway thanks to the Xanax I have been prescribed for traveling since my transplant. But this last vacation out West proved the worst flight for many sober passengers on board, for a reason even the pilot said he hasn’t seen in his 30-plus years of flying.

 

I flew to Phoenix on MLK Day during the government shutdown. That means I showed up at Hartsfield-Jackson four hours early, in case a majority of TSA workers decided to take the day off in protest. Of course, I got through security in half-an-hour. Finally, aboard the flight, I saw a woman and a service dog in the aisle in front of me. Once I sat down the dog was out of view, and I forgot about it as I put on my headphones and lulled myself into a medicated haze.

 

It’s about a 4-hour flight to Phoenix from Atlanta. A little over half-way through the trip the dog popped into my view in a panic state, hugging its master. The woman then walked the dog down the aisle toward the back of the plane, for what I assumed was a walk to calm its nerves.

 

They were gone for a few minutes, and upon return, the dog was no less frantic than before, so the woman then took the dog toward the front. A flight attendant came to speak with the man who was seated next to the dog owner, and I slipped my headphones off one ear to eavesdrop. I caught that the dog had apparently vomited where it had rested near the man, and I guess she was making sure he was ok.

 

And then I smelled something. At first, I thought maybe coffee was being brewed since it had a warm fragrance, but then realized it came from the dog. And not the end vomit comes from.

 

Assuming it would dissipate, the smell only grew stronger and I noticed other passengers were trying to cover their noses. The flight attendants were moving at a quicker pace and seemed to concentrate their efforts near the front galley. One came back to talk with the man in front of me again, and that’s when I learned the dog was a service dog in training and had diarrhea that it released all over the front section of the plane. Yes, the dog shit on first class.

 

I must admit I laughed at that. We had an hour-and-a-half left in the flight, and I wished there was a window I could open in the meantime. The pilot gave us that option, as he came on to let us know we would be making an emergency flight to El Paso to allow the dog and its trainer off the plane. Hazmat crews would be boarding to clean the mess before we resumed our trip.

 

The more you fly, odds are something unique will present itself during the trip. In this case, it was a situation no one had experienced before. At least the dog was put out of its misery and as another passenger exclaimed after all was said and done, “That’s the cleanest this plane has likely been since it was built.”

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