Pooptastrophe on Plane

November 21, 2010

in Baby & Kid Stories

When I got to the airport, people told me I was “brave” for flying alone with two kids.  I wasn’t sure if I was more brave or stupid, but either way I was flying halfway across the US to St. Louis.  It was going to be rough because 1) Getting to my hometown is never easy.  It’s always an hour or so at the airport, a couple of hours of flying, and then a couple of hours of driving; and 2) My youngest got sent home from daycare yesterday because, as they told my husband, they found her sitting in a “puddle of poop.”  I think they meant it, literally.  (This wasn’t the first day of the runny-poo, but it sounds like this was the worst of it.)   The reality of 5-6 hours of traveling by myself with a baby who had diarrhea was daunting, to say the least.  I wanted to cry, and seriously considered cancelling the trip.

My husband helped me prepare for this adventure by buying size 3 “nighttime” diapers (half-a-size bigger than needed and more absorbent) and plastic bloomers.  My thought was that I could “double bag” her, then wrap her in plastic, thereby warding off any pooptastrophes.  The theory was good, right?  Just in case this wasn’t enough, I packed 2 extra outfits in the diaper bag, along with plastic bags and 2 packages of wipes for clean-up.  I wasn’t going to be caught unprepared.  Ultimately, I had hoped my little one would have her poopsplosion prior to take-off, and wishfully was hoping it would occur before we even left the house (obviously asking too much).  Because I knew it was coming, I made sure all the reinforcements were in place prior to boarding – Double diapered, check.  Plastic pants, check.  Prepared Mom, double check.

We made it most of the way through the flight before “the signs” began, and at the first sign of grunting, I braced for impact.  I naively thought that grunting might be a good sign – like perhaps there was something more substantive to her poo than just liquid, maybe the applesauce and toast were working, maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.  I waited for her to finish her business, asked the nice lady in the aisle seat to watch my oldest for me, and politely excused myself to go change the stench.  The baby and I waited a bit before the changing table bathroom was available, and all the time I’m praying “please don’t leak, please don’t leak, please don’t leak.”   Needless to say, I pulled down her britches in anticipation.   I took down the plastic bloomers and saw nothing.  Opened diaper number 1 and saw nothing.  Thus far, very good.  Diaper number 2 was definitely full (and nasty) but it didn’t leak up the back or around the legs.  Five wipes later (yes, five – it was still a mess) and I was patting myself on the back for a job well done.  Way to go, prepared mom.

And then…..

I turned to throw the old diaper away and get the new diaper all squared away when I felt something warm hit my leg.  What the……???  There was definitely a moment where I wasn’t sure what was happening – and then it hit me (literally):  that was poop erupting from my cute little baby’s bottom.  Erupting.  Erupting all over me.  Erupting all over the wall.  Erupting all over the airplane bathroom.   “I can handle this, I’m prepared,” I calmly thought.  I grab the wipes, move the blanket, get her pants out of the way.  Wipes in hand, I start cleaning her again, without regard for the stinky, raunchy poo dripping down my leg AND the wall.  Before I can get the diaper in place, she erupted again like the blowhole on a whale.  Now there is more stinky, raunchy poo dripping down my leg, the wall, the sink, the toilet, and any other surface you can imagine in an airplane bathroom.

At this point the shock of the experience wanes and panic starts to set in.  Now I am scrambling.  How in the HELL am I gonna get out of this one?  I am obviously scathed (as opposed to escaping unscathed, the original plan).  And not only am I scathed, I am dripping poop down my legs, I am standing in poo that has either hit the floor directly or dripped from the wall to the floor (it doesn’t matter how it got to my flip flops and feet, it’s disgusting), and am out of contingency plans.  I am frantically cleaning, trying to get some sort of cleanish diaper under my baby when, as if in one last hurrah, she gives a last little squirt, just for good measure.

Somewhere in all the cleaning and wiping I realize I am beat.  There is NO coming back from this one, as all the preparation in the world could NOT have prepared me for this.  Talk about Ultimate Fail.   I open the door a sliver and meet eyes with the first flight attendant I see – she is nice enough but (as she tells me later) has no kids and can’t deal with the situation she sees before her.  At the first flight attendant’s gasp, the second flight attendant rushes over and I can instantly see she is a mom who understands my plight.  She rushes to gather more bathroom towels and then grabs a club soda for my pants, and in the meantime a lady from the last row has come over to try to help.  I am trying to shoo them away from the toxic mess, but thank god there are some good-hearted people out there who are willing to sacrifice! 

There is literally a “crowd” (of sorts – lots of people peering back to the bathroom, lots of chatter) gathering, and I am visibly shaking.  The baby, tired of laying on the changing table, is now diapered and squirming, her business all completed.  Somehow, she is surprisingly clean – her blanket and clothes hardly touched by the complete $h!t-aster.  The lady from the last row offers to hold her while I clean up, which sends my “Stranger Danger” daughter into fuss mode, so the door stays open and the lady holds the baby in clear view of me and the disaster she created – as if she is admiring her work.

I work frantically to clean, all the while the pilot is calling “please return to your seats for final descent into St. Louis.”  The flight attendant is now telling me I need to sit down because the plane needs to land – can’t she SEE me?  Can’t she SMELL me?  I seriously have to return to my seat?  I fend her off for as long as I can but eventually she makes me go back to my seat, with that little poop beast in my arms.  There are visible (and smellable) areas of stinky, raunchy poo on my pants and shirt, but I’ve managed to clean up my feet and shoes in the bathroom sink.  (I dumped the whole can of club soda on my pants, so I’m hoping that is working to do whatever it is club soda does.)

I make it back to my seat to find my oldest daughter has taken off her seat belt and is just starting to get a little rambunctious – someone had checked on her at least once during the ordeal and assured me she was being good, so thank goodness for that – by this time, I’m counting the small blessings.  I get her gathered up, “enjoy” a nice landing and quick taxi (coincidence?  Or do you think they called ahead???) wait my respective turn to get off the plane, and head out into Lambert Airport covered in poo.  By this time it’s not as visible as it is smellable, but I know it’s there and that it is GROSS, and I get to go to baggage claim and wait, reeking of ick.

I contend that there are flight attendants and people riding on that fateful DEN-STL flight who will never forget me or my poopy baby.  We are the stuff legends are made of.  I’m not sure whether they continued to look at me as brave or stupid, or just a raunchy mess of poo.  And, in case you are wondering (and in case you think I’m exaggerating), the flight attendants were planning on completely closing that bathroom off for the rest of the day until they could get it completely (and deeply) cleaned.  We are overachievers, after all –  we don’t do things half-assed.  Glad my little imp already has that engrained in her genetic code.  🙂

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela November 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Oh… My… God…


Shelly B Mom of 4 November 21, 2010 at 9:59 pm

You have fantastic writing skills! Oh the horror, your trip is what every mom has nightmares about..


D-Money November 22, 2010 at 2:50 am

Take a spare pacifier and plug the leak. 😛


Jodi November 22, 2010 at 5:45 am

Thank you for sharing this story. I'm sorry it happened to you, but you wrote it well and it was really really nice to have something to read on my break that simultaneously grossed me out and had me laughing. =)


Jim November 22, 2010 at 7:29 am

1) You knew your child was having issues and still chose to travel with her, not even caring about the well-being of the other passengers that may have to be subjected to the stench, etc…

2) You left your oldest child, and asked some stranger to watch her?

Wow. You are selfish. Not caring about others or your child. You could have driven Denver to St. Louis. You could have waited to fly until another time, when your children are older. YOu could have left your children home with your husband. Or, your St. Louis relatives could have travelled to you….but, no, no, no…..it's all about you. Not what is best for your children….or, what is being considerate of the others that are trapped on the plane with your poopy child.

Selfish, selfish, selfish


PAUL November 22, 2010 at 8:52 am

You must have no kids. Moms go through this kind of stuff daily and us guys have NO GROUNDS to even talk to them on these subjects (even us dads). The guy was probably off playing golf–jk.



Broomflyer November 23, 2010 at 5:15 am

Jim you suck. I loathe children but she did her best,prepared as well as ANYONE could and wrote it up intelligently and in a funny way. CUT THE WOMAN SOME SLACK. What if it had been you with that problem? Surely it would then be someone else's fault.


Arnie November 25, 2010 at 7:05 am

Jim, you are wrong as can be.

The kid has a bout with loose bowels, she is not a danger to the world. by your reckoning, HIV positive people should stay cloistered in their rooms forever, and not go outside. The chances of they hurting others is much more severe and possible. Also, kids should never fly because they have a tendency to cry on the flight, inconveniencing all others.

As for mom, great story, and write-up. I am a father of seven kids, and have had my share of clean-ups; it is not just moms who deal with this.


Lindsey November 22, 2010 at 9:49 am

I agree with Paul! Being a mom you have to expect the unexpected and prepare for anything. You can't put your entire life on hold because your child has the squirts.

Here's hoping you don't get a bad case of the runs on your next flight Jim 🙂


PAUL November 22, 2010 at 9:59 am

Rumor has it Jim is the famous Mr. Poopy Pants….ironic, Eh?


Gregg - admin November 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Paul is referring to a notorious character described in this story: Mr. Poopy Pants. CNN featured the story in this article: 'Mr. Poopy Pants' and fees frustrate flyers.


Broomflyer November 23, 2010 at 5:21 am

Agree, Paul, I think this hit too close to home for him!


MJ November 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

I would like Jim to have the runs and see if he cancels his flights. You cannot put life on hold because of your children. If you do they will run your lives. I have a 2yr old and a newborn and my wife and I will continue to travel. You only live once and must continue to do the things you love to do.


Jim November 22, 2010 at 10:53 am

Well if I were sick, I would definitely cancel my flight. I would not want to be sick on an airplane. And, further I would not want to risk the chance of giving anyone else whatever illness it may be..

When you choose to have children, YOU accept the responsibilities thereof…which may mean changing your travel etc… Don't expect the world to accomodate your choice to have children and fly with them.

Why should the other passengers on the plane be subjected to an unruly or sick child, simply because you don't want to "put your life on hold" for the children YOU chose to have?


Dina November 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

But you probably have the money to buy travel insurance/buy a refundable fare/eat the cost of a canceled ticket. Not everyone does.


rerere November 22, 2010 at 10:34 am

I am sorry, but I have to agree with Jim. First of all, you knew your child had issues, drive there instead of risking every other passengers comfort. Second, you act as if you expect every passenger and flight attendent to be at your every will. Selfish.


PAUL November 22, 2010 at 10:51 am

Is it selfish if an elderly man has an issue requiring FA assistance? Go back to sipping your male roommate's new pot of frappachino/lite whip.


Jim November 23, 2010 at 6:31 am


Are you a priest? You make many comments with homosexual undertones, and have an unusual interest in children. hmmmmm…..go back to the confessional.


PAUL November 23, 2010 at 6:44 am

What in the WORLD are you babbling about you wacko?


Dina November 23, 2010 at 11:12 am

Yeah, I'm with Paul. What are you on about?


rerere November 23, 2010 at 11:07 am

To PAUL: No it isn't. That is a different case. An elderly man needing help is no problem. A mother traveling with her husband, however, is a different case. I don't know where the father was in this story. He should be helping. And I will ignore the insults.


Dina November 23, 2010 at 11:13 am

Read the story again – I think the dad was already at home.


rerere November 23, 2010 at 11:15 am

Alright, but still, they KNEW Of the problem. That child should've been at home with the father. NOT on a plane full of people trying to enjoy their flight.


Dina November 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

What's with the whole "she must be a mother" schtick? I have experience cleaning up after poopageddon – but that's because I used to be a childcare worker…


E.Morris November 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Thanks for sharing…Jim has no clue…


Dean November 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm

What a horrible, but wonderfully-told story! I cringed, I laughed, I gasped – 4 stars!

Don’t worry about these folks who lack understanding or perspective. When you’re traveling for business, it’s easy (and sometimes welcome) to cancel your flight – hey, it’s not your money and most of the time you can just have a conference call! But when you’ve spent personal money to fly to your hometown to probably visit expectant family and friends (holiday, birthday, wedding?)… well, usually canceling is not an option.

I’m encouraged because your story demonstrates that there are GOOD people out there who are willing to help out and sympathize with being a struggling parent or a scared traveler or someone who simply wants to switch seats to be next to a friend! You can’t expect help from everyone, but I’d be ASHAMED to be on any flight and not lend a hand to someone who obviously needs it. You can sit by me next time 🙂


Bob November 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Good God! The eruption from that baby's butt rivaled that of the Icelandic volcano.


Sara November 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I feel sorry for people like you Jim…get a life. Shannon, the story was beautifully written and I commend you for being able to laugh about it.


rerere November 23, 2010 at 11:13 am

An opinion is an opinion. And I have to agree with Jim. She knew about this problem her child had, and she knew her other child was there and other passengers. If you put that into a thought, then the proper thing to do is leave someone at home to watch the child while they flew. Or if they had to bring the kid, to drive with more restrooms and rest stops.


monika November 23, 2010 at 1:19 am

This is the best story on this site in quite a while: well written and a true flight from hell – thank you so much for sharing it!

And you were more than well prepared – and still the s… hit the fan – but such is life.


Dave November 23, 2010 at 4:59 am

I agree with Jim. Parents are some of the most self-absorbed people out there.

Really? You have a sick child, and you are still going to fly with them?

You do not care if you pass their illness to the others on the plane?

Or, you know your child is unruly, and you still insist on flying with them, not caring that they will disturb the other paying passengers?

Oh, sorry your life should not be "put on hold" just because of your children. Other people shouldn't mind if your child passes an illness to them, or distrubs them with incessant crying on the plane, etc…. Because you as a parent have every right to bring your sick, unruly child wherever you go. Because it is all about you. And, the world should accomodate you and your choices. It takes a village to raise a child, and that village should be forced to care for and pay for your children that you cannot manage on your own….stupid welfare society! You expect the world to accomodate your decision to have children and make allowances for you. Pathetic!


PAUL November 23, 2010 at 5:18 am

Adults fly sick all the time. Unfortunate but this is a reality.

Go back to making breakfast for Jim.


rerere November 23, 2010 at 11:09 am

Get a clue PAUL. Stop harrasing people on the internet. THAT gets you no where in life.


M November 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm

You think this is harassment? Wow. Get a life.


rerere November 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

WOW, copying my post and using it against me? Get off the internet and get a job.


M December 1, 2010 at 10:31 am

What the hell are you on about? I didn't copy anything of yours.

Broomflyer November 23, 2010 at 5:20 am

Well, Monica, you are an asshole too. Again, I CHOSE to be CHILD FREE but this poster was really trying to not be a nuisance to other passengers, sometimes SHIT HAPPENS. And I hope it happens to you so you can learn some compassion. Ask em again why I do not fly……not only shitty babies but shitty people like you, ripe with self-entitlement.


Dee November 23, 2010 at 6:14 am

Actually, we are becoming a welfare and socialist society.

We are holding everyone responsibility for the support and upbringing of each other and their children. You said it right….the whole "it takes a village to raise a child"….that is a form of the social aspect of socialism.

We are taking money from responsible people to pay for the lazy that do not work, the bankrupt that do not know how to manage their money, the parents that have more children than they can afford and bailing out corporations….the personal and corporate financial part of welfare/socialism.

Now, we expect the world to raise other's children….make allowances for other's choices to have children, and are being forced to endure the tantrums and illnesses of other people's children on airplanes…again the social aspect of socialism….we all have to endure the choices of others.

Obama and socialism…..isn't it great.


PAUL November 23, 2010 at 6:39 am

As usual, no one has a good sense of humor for a great story.

No one should be allowed to fly unless they are a middle-aged, healthy person (bring doctor's note), in a business suit.

I have an idea for a new airline: Fuddys-R-Us (no lines, no wines, no crimes and no whines; good times).


Dina November 23, 2010 at 11:15 am

People like you have no idea what socialism really is.

I have friends who identify as socialist and/or communist, and they hate Obama just as much as you seem to.


M November 27, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I'd reply to this, but the comment was too stupid to even bother. Once someone claims that the United States (or Obama) is socialist, I can't take anything they say seriously.


The Mama November 24, 2010 at 5:20 am

Dear Dave,

You may be more self absorbed than Jim! This was not a story about welfare or the need for a village to "raise" children. It is a fun story about a Mom with two children traveling on a plane. They expienced some difficulties and some nice people helped. We ALL know that you or Jim would not be among the people helping a mother under duress.

May what you give in life come back to you


STFU MOO January 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm

This wasn't a "fun" story in any sense of the word. I guess you and the rest of the breeders must be high from huffing diapers all day. [Comment was edited for inappropriate content.]


Sara November 23, 2010 at 8:41 am

I agree Paul…some people have no appreciation for good entertainment. It is a story people…don't take it so personal.


Jennifer November 23, 2010 at 9:48 am

Thanks for the giggle ; ) You are an amazing mommy and writer! I also commend you for being so resourceful in such a "poopy" situation. Your story is every parent's nightmare when flying, lol. As for Jim, I suggest he pack an extra pair of undies on his next flight because you know what they say about karma…it's like a stinky diaper! And when did showing compassion and kindness to a mommy-in-need become socialism or mean she's on welfare? I only hope that if I'm ever in a similiar situation that I will handle it as well and as calmly as you did. Kudos to you : )


Jim November 23, 2010 at 11:43 am

This will be my last post on this issue.

I cannot believe that so many parents think it is o.k. to expose trapped passengers on a plane to their sick or unruly child. Because you want to fly, and it would inconvenience you to drive or stay home….you choose to knowingly expose everyone else to whatever illness or tantrum your child has…not to mention, how cruel it is to your sick child to trap them on a plane for several hours, at altitudes and pressure that could exacerbate their illness.

Again, you are selfish, self-absorbed people. Screw everyone else on the plane…..screw the child… it is all about you.

Buh bye.


PAUL November 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I know a nice lady here that says, "Buh Bye" a lot. It is a cute expression.

I think we (at least I) learned a little about the world this week—chivalry is definitely dead.


Jennifer November 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Dear Jim,

Please do us all a favor and get a vasectomy! I would hate for you to fill the minds of your own children with this nonsensical garbage!


Mr. Hanky November 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Hi di ho folks Mr. Hanky wants everyone to remember the Christmas spirit! Mr. Hanky knows that shit happens and please remember everybody poops so get your daily fiber. And to the comment about children, lest we all forget we were all children once. Is it children who start war, is it children who waste the resources that mother earth provides, is it children who choose to drink and then drive, is it children who commit crime, is it children who expose others to second hand smoke, is it children who complain but then don't take the time to become activity in their community, vote or volunteer to make the world a better place?


Vanessa November 24, 2010 at 8:34 am

Let me know when your first book comes out!!! It was very well written and I loved it. Great job!


Eloise November 25, 2010 at 6:41 am

I'm a Mom of three, and I have to say I find what this mother did is wrong on so many levels! This is the type of Mom who sends her child to school sick and thus exposes the rest of the class to whatever nasty germs they're carrying. If your kids sick stay put. Not only for the everyone else but also for your child's sake!


G. Roach November 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Wow. Just Wow! Maybe the next time you fly with that kid, before you board, take her into the restroom, hold her upside down, pull the plug, and wait for all of the fluids to drain!

Too bad it's not that simple! Why don't those little rascals come with a dipstick and a drain plug? That might make life a bit easier. Maybe next time you diaper the kid, stop by an auto parts store and get some "Form-A-Gasket", some "Stop Leak", and a portable shop vac on wheels that you can tote around with you!

I'm kidding of course. Wow, what an ordeal! I think you handled it well, all things considered. Well-written story. Yuck, what a mess!


M November 27, 2010 at 7:04 pm

I'm surprised that no one has pointed out that having diarrhea does not necessary mean that a kid is sick. Lots of things can cause it and assuming that the OP was exposing a plane full of people to her sick child is jumping to one hell of a conclusion.

I'm childless currently and don't see that changing anytime soon, nor do I particularly enjoy the messes and annoyances that are going to happen with young children. But anyone who believes that all children should be sequestered in homes, schools, and playgrounds until they are older is an idiot. Children learn to be a part of society by being around other people and regardless of whether or not I choose to have children, I am still a part of that same society. If you (Jim, Dave, Dee, et. al.) don't want to deal with being around young children, perhaps *you* should be the ones driving to your destinations, as you do have the right to determine who travels with you in your car. You don't have the same rights on an airplane. Period.


Ren November 28, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Ok…Im sorry…the story might be written well….But OMG….so not a smart idea to bring a sick child aboard a plane.!!!

I get so aggravated with people like you who expose illness to others. You should have stayed home until your child was feeling better.

Your kid ended up crapping all over a bathroom, which some other poor person had to clean. How freaking gross.

For some sick reason you are proud of the mess she made? Shameful.

Sounds like your child had a stomach bug, but thats Ok….lets make sure she makes a mess and someone else can clean up the mess left behind and stink out the rest of the poor passengers. They probably wanted to strangle you….no normal person would think its OK or even funny.

I wonder how many innocent bystanders ended up catching what she had.

Its not your kids fault..not blaming an innocent child….but it's yours. I would never travel while feeling sick or with a sick child.

Wow….very rude…..you really should have known better. You kind of got what you deserved.


osyluth November 30, 2010 at 6:00 am



Ron November 30, 2010 at 10:09 am

To echo only one other person who noted: There was NO INDICATION THAT THE CHILD WAS SICK. A baby does not need to be sick to have diarrhea. Sometimes it comes out liquidy; sometimes it comes out in pebbles; sometimes it comes out juuuuust right.

So get a grip Jim and Rerere–she did EVERYTHING she should have to prepare for the trip. The only thing she did wrong was-mistimed her baby's void. That's it.

No indication otherwise of an unruly child or any indication the child was otherwise 'at fault'. The baby had an accident-she paid the price. So shut your pie-holes.


Ren November 30, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Her kid was pooping …(sorry, squirting) her poor little bum off the day before at daycare. The kid was sent home because of this!

She goes to daycare, people!!!. …it IS stomach bug season right now!!

Those places are a breeding ground for bacteria. The people defending this woman are probably the same types themselves that board planes while feeling sick..or with their sick kids, thinking that its A-OK to do so.

Well, its not OK. It is downright ignorant.

What makes it worse is that she noted in the end that she was proud of the fact that her kid sh*t up the bathroom. They should have charged her a fee for cleanup.

Also….if anybody says I do not like kids…you are WRONG. Just dont trap me in a plane with sick kids or even sick adults. Got the sniffles? Thats fine..most people can deal with that…..but dont subject people to stomach ailments or anything similar which can ruin a flight for everyone aboard.

Ughh….I better stop. But people just irk me when it comes to stuff like this!!


Karl December 1, 2010 at 2:42 am

I agree with Ren. Even more so if flight is to another country. I sure want to take care of any sickness here with my Md and Insurance. Who knows if this sickness will turn worse and I end up to pay big bucks because my ins. does not cover me in another country, say in Haiti?.


GM December 13, 2010 at 8:33 am

Easy solution… Leave the small kids at home. You decide to have kids? Great, have kids. But then realize you can't have it all. The rest of us don't want to be subjected to your kids' screaming, pooping, whining, etc. Stay home or find a baby sitter. Thanks…


Adrienne December 13, 2010 at 9:14 am

That is such a classic flight from hell – it beats all the others I've ever read on this site. I feel so bad for you – SO bad. But you told your story in such a good-natured way that I can tell you are an amazing mom and a really cool person.


An African Nomad December 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Interesting comments people.

Great story and though things didn't work out well in the end you prepared as best you could and other than a timing issue things would have been well in hand.

Don't let the twits stop you from flying with your family. I hate it as much as the next person if a screaming child is next to me on a plane but my $800 is worth no more than the $800 some other schmoe paid so his kid could fly.

An African Nomad


Tux December 28, 2010 at 5:12 am

You and my mother can share stories. I had an assplosion on a plane and my mother was not so prepared. Spent the whole flight in a nice poo blanket courtesy ME.


Bob January 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Yea but you were twenty two when that happened.


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