Sh!ts on a Plane: What would you do if the passenger next to you soils their pants?.

By Posted in - Travel Resources on November 22nd, 2010 Southwest plane flying over the United States.

It didn’t take long, maybe 10 seconds at the most, for the front section of Southwest Flight 143 to fill with the unmistakable smell of human feces. As the air circulated in the narrow cabin, the stench grew with ferocity, and the culprit, a self-proclaimed World War II pilot, who we’ll call “Hank,” revealed himself as he made his way to the front bathroom.

With Hank locked in the bathroom and at least an hour left in the flight, my grandparents, Joe and Dorothy, said they and the other pre-boarders, mainly elderly passengers who filled the front few rows of the plane, hunkered down with the putrid odor. And that is when things got interesting.

As the air circulated in the narrow cabin, the stench grew with ferocity, and the culprit, a self-proclaimed World War II pilot, who we’ll call “Hank,” revealed himself as he made his way to the front bathroom.

One woman wrapped herself in a blanket becoming a human cocoon. Another passenger, a man in his 70s who sat catercorner to “The Pooper,” as my grandmother referred to him, began cashing in his free drink coupons for double shots of whiskey and Coke, while his wife, who was sitting in the aisle seat next to Hank, rode out the flight quietly; the other passenger in their row, a girl in her early 20s, immediately left for fresher pastures.

Hank returned to his seat 20 minutes later and that is when flight attendants went to work. Like a Navy SEAL breaching a hostile enclave, the stewardess cracked the bathroom door and unleashed a large amount of air freshener into the glorified porta-a-potty and the surrounding area. This, however, only made things worse for the senior passengers. Inundated by the floral fumes, the cocooned woman suffered an asthma attack and my grandparents said they also had difficulty breathing. After about 10 minutes, two flight attendants returned and cleaned the bathroom.

Once talkative, post-bathroom Hank remained quiet for the rest of the flight, asking only one question, “Where did the girl next to me go?”

We thought a while about what we would do if we were also stuck in this horrible situation and there’s no easy solution. I know I would feel bad for Hank and try to be subtle about it but really how would you deal with it?

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(37) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Lisa E -

    November 22, 2010 at 5:33 am

    This was hilarious…thanks for the great laugh first thing in the morning! Your writing style is fantastic….

    I can’t imagine what I would do in this situation–breathe out of my mouth so as not to smell the odor? But that’s not an ideal solution, I suppose. The bottom line? Yikes. This really sounds like a nightmare. For everyone–especially the flight attendants who had to manage this….um….crappy mess. 🙂

    • Bethany -

      November 22, 2010 at 9:32 am

      Hahaha… Thanks Lisa! Randy will be very pleased that you liked his post. I think it really was pretty bad, especially when the fumes made it worse. @Lisa E,

    • Cell Phone Spy Reviews -

      November 25, 2010 at 2:41 am

      this will be most funniest situation and well I would prefer to reply in the same way i guess 😛

      Cell Phone Spy Reviews

  • Zablon Mukuba -

    November 22, 2010 at 6:27 am

    i wouldnt leave my seat, coz maybe the guy next to me is sick and the same thing could happen to me. although i would take it as a sign to start drinking

    • Bethany -

      November 22, 2010 at 9:17 am

      Interesting view point Zablon. I guess that would make it worse, if people got sick and started disbursing throughout the plane. @Zablon Mukuba,

  • ayngelina -

    November 22, 2010 at 8:12 am

    How awful would that be for the flight attendants!

    As bad as this is on a plane, it’s a regular occurrence on buses in Latin America yet we have no kind people who will go clean it up.

    Two weeks ago I was on a particularly rough ride through Colombia and someone threw up all over the bathroom and the strench made its way through the entire bus. I had some tea tree oil on me and put it under my nose.

    • bethany -

      November 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

      A regular occurrence on the buses in Latin America? Oh man, that is awful! I’ve taken a few there and never had a bad experience but then again I’ve never been there for any long length of time. Tea tree oil is a good solution! @ayngelina,

  • Andy Hayes | Sharing Travel Experiences -

    November 22, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Oh. My. God.

  • mary s -

    November 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    This has never happened thank god to me but i tell you i would have requested a new seat as far away as possible. the article was great, keep writing loved therecent one on the paris metro


  • Jaime -

    November 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Wow, that is just crazy forget about the passengers felt about it what about the person who pooped his pants. Poor guy having to go in the RR and clean him self and then to have do the walk of shame back to his seat with all eyes on him. Man poor guy. I know i would just cover my face and ride it out.

    • Bethany -

      November 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm

      I know I really feel bad for him. It must’ve been a nightmare. Plus then think that he had to walk through the airport and maybe even wait around at the luggage carousel. Sucks! @Jaime,

  • Poor Travel Blogger -

    November 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I’d say the worst I’d do is wrinkle my nose in disgust and furiously think of tropical bees pollinating tropical flowers on an island similar to a very tropical LOST island where human feces don’t exist.
    Then again, everyone’s shit stinks but it’s different in a plane with circulating air. I wonder if the Captain had smelled it, would he have risked losing cabin pressure by cracking a door to get some fresh air?
    Great laugh guys! Hello from Naples, Italy!

    • Bethany -

      November 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm

      Oh geez! I don’t know. I think the recirculated air must’ve made it just unbearable. Hopefully it was the last flight of the day. Have fun in Naples – I only saw a wee bit of it but it looked amazing! @Poor Travel Blogger,

  • Gillian -

    November 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I agree with Ayngelina – there are plenty of places that stink…be prepared!! I often saw people in Asia with menthol sticks stuck up to their noses.

    • Bethany -

      November 22, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      Wow, menthol sticks up the nose! That is intense – did you partake as well?@Gillian,

  • Kirsty -

    November 22, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    The title of this post is brilliant! I’ve never been in this situation yet and I am not sure what I would do probably wrap myself up in a cacoon so I didn’t need to smell it! I feel for hank, poor guy!

    • Bethany -

      November 22, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      I know, I think I would do the same. I would die if I was Hank.@Kirsty,

  • Bethany -

    November 23, 2010 at 5:44 am

    Hi Ross, Oh that happened to a friend of mine as well. It was pretty bad, almost made for a domino effect. @Ross,

  • greg urbano -

    November 23, 2010 at 10:20 am

    yikes ! wtf !!

  • Brooke vs. the World -

    November 29, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Ohhhh that’s kind of sad actually. I have no idea what I would do!

    • Bethany -

      November 29, 2010 at 11:48 pm

      I know I felt so bad for the poor guy. It is a horrible situation all the way around. @Brooke vs. the World,

  • The Gen Y Travel Blog Carnival: 5th Edition -

    December 2, 2010 at 6:02 am

    […] Philosopher Spencer tells us what he learned from Burger King.Beers and Beans ask the question: What would you do if the passenger next to you on a plane soils their pants?Erica at Over Yonderlust writes about falling in love with both her husband and travel.Andi of My […]

  • Lauren -

    December 2, 2010 at 6:37 am

    I think I would cry!! Hahaha, seriously, I would get up and walk to the other end of the plane and stay there for the rest of the flight standing up!

    • Bethany -

      December 15, 2010 at 8:56 am

      Thanks for commenting Lauren. I know it’s a tough one! @Lauren,

  • Emily -

    December 2, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Aww, I feel sad for the guy–that must have been so terribly embarrassing for him. That also sounds awful for the passengers who smelled it and the flight attendants who had to clean it–just a bad situation all around! I hope I never have to encounter that!

    • Bethany -

      December 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

      I know – it’s bad for everyone. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I was him. That poor man. @Emily,

  • Laura -

    December 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Oh no! I feel awful for the old man!! Someone in the seat in front of me was sick in the aisle on a flight once. I scampered to a different seat but several people were “splattered.” Sometimes you just have to deal with this stuff 🙁

    • Bethany -

      December 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

      oh I had a friend who got splattered once on a plane as well. She was trapped in the window seat and the guy was in the middle. Said it was horrible. I was be afraid of puking myself after the fact and starting a horrible chain reaction! @Laura,

  • Paddy @ Pasty Muncher -

    December 15, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Funny how tales of desperate squits is such a common bond amongst travellers but in the confines of a plane it must be a dreadful experience – to both the unfortunate squitter and pasengers and crew.

    • Bethany -

      December 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

      Thanks for leaving a message. Yes, they seem to be bonding tales. I’m just glad I wasn’t around to witness this one firsthand. @Paddy @ Pasty Muncher,

  • Torre – Fearful Adventurer -

    July 21, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Oh gross. A friend once told me she was on a flight that served funky fish for dinner (funkier than usual) and half the people aboard got food poisoning. (My friend ordered the chicken.) With the toilets occupied, people started vomiting and pooping their pants all over the plane – in baggies, in pants, up the aisle! The plane made an emergency landing and people in hazmat suits went to work on the plane before it resumed flying. Forget Snakes on a Plane! S*&@ and Vomit on a Plane is the most horrible thing I can imagine.

    • Bethany -

      July 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      OH MY GOD. I can’t believe that. That is horrible. Seriously that is the worst I have ever heard. I don’t know how I would cope if I was on that plane. What did she do? I would think everyone would be puking at that point. Do you know what airline it was? I imagine they must’ve given out a lot of free flights after that!

      @Torre – Fearful Adventurer,

  • ehalvey -

    July 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Oh dear God! I am really sensitive to smells so I’m 99% sure I would’ve thrown up. And started a chain reaction of other vomiters. YIKES!!

    • Bethany -

      July 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      I know – that’s a crazy story huh? I think I would’ve puked too!


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