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Mile High Manners: Sensible Solutions to Dog Pee in the Aisle & Poop on the Tray Table

Traveling can be a tricky business, one that’s often complicated by unexpected, misery-inducing difficulties. You’ve got tightened airport security to deal with, not to mention delayed flights, discourteous strangers and maybe even a screaming child to top it all off. Sometimes it feels like the whole ordeal isn’t worth the hassle, but fear not! Mile High Manners is here to lend a helping hand and guide you through the polite “do’s and don’ts” of flight etiquette, regardless of the class you’re seated in and situations you come up against. 

Have you ever faced an in-flight encounter or unexpected situation at the airport which you were unsure of how to handle properly? Send your dilemmas to us at [email protected] and check back every Wednesday as we endeavor make the travel experience more enjoyable for everyone.


Q: Dear MHM, last week I caught a red eye home from a long business trip. Naturally, there was a very annoying Chihuahua with me in economy who decided to disobey its owner and use the bathroom right smack-dab in the middle of the aisle.

The dog’s owner attempted to mop up the urine with some spare newspaper the flight attendant provided, but the smell was overwhelming and my seatmate even mentioned that the captain should attempt to make an emergency landing. On top of that, the incident occurred between my seat and the closest lavatory to me!

There has to be some sort of protocol for this kind of thing. I know pets are allowed onboard, but when they interfere with the comfort of other passengers, what actions can the crew/airline take, let alone unfortunate flyers in my situation.

A: Chihuahuas, like any yappy little breed, do bring out a sense of bewilderment on my part — what with the hamster-sized bodies, large mounds of fluff and occupation as handbag accessories. Once you place them in an enclosed form of transport, especially high-stress ones like aircraft cabins, that same bewilderment often turns into anger.

I feel your pain, dear reader. You definitely drew the short straw when you were sandwiched between a urinating toy dog and the lavatory. I am of the opinion that if you let little dogs on crowded planes then you are really asking for trouble.

That said, though, your seatmate’s suggestion of a forced landing might be stretching it a bit. At least the owner attempted to mop up the mess. Based on the amount of dog excrement on our streets, I’m sure there are many people out there who would refuse such a common act of decency, so let’s give the offending owner credit for that.

You would certainty hope that there is some kind of protocol for this sort of thing. I’d assume pets would have to remain in their travelling cages for the duration of the flight. I understand that the poor thing wanted to stretch its legs, but there does have to be some limits for people-animal flight relations. In the end, someone has to take responsibility for the dog and its in-flight actions, and the owner tops that list.

Next time if you spot a passenger accompanied by an animal cage approaching your area, beg, borrow and steal your way to another part of the plane!


Q: Hello, MHM! I’ve got a good one for you. Last week I was coming home on an evening flight when the unthinkable happened — I saw baby poop grace a tray table while a woman was in the middle of changing a diaper… Like, seriously, are you kidding?

I probably should’ve said something, but the kid was cranky and the mother seemed frenzied. Also, there was a bit of turbulence; perhaps she figured getting up and controlling her brat until they could make it to the lavatory was near impossible. Still, that is no excuse for the lack of consideration on the woman’s part. I mean, people eat off of where she placed her child’s dirty diaper! Not to mention, the baby’s diaper was rancid, and I caught other passengers giving her the stink eye (no pun intended).

Should airlines consider putting signs on the backs of passengers’ seats? Or is there a ban on this sort of behavior this woman simply wasn’t aware of? Please, MHM — in the name of good hygiene/bacteria — help!!!

A: That is an unfortunate situation to be placed in, dear reader. Some form of hygiene laws are clearly being breached in the incident that you’ve just described, but let’s spare a thought for the poor mother who was probably stressed out of her mind.

Flying with small children, especially babies, must be an absolute nightmare. The turbulence that you were going through at the time must be what prevented her from taking her baby to the bathroom where changing facilities are available. That said, the whole situation is quite nauseating, and if I was in your position, I’m not sure what I would have done — probably feel very sick.

I don’t know how often this particular hygiene issue makes itself known. I’ve never encountered such a thing, and I’d imagine it is quite rare, but you never know. I wouldn’t think a sign on the plastic trays is necessary quite yet, although it’s worth noting there’s no universal ban currently in place. Most likely, airlines assume that flyers don’t need such a sign as they surely wouldn’t do such a thing out of basic decency. Clearly, that’s not the case, as you learned the hard way.


[Photo: iStock]

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