Why I Will NEVER Take My Dog on a Plane Again – Warning This Post is Graphic

Oh. My. God. You guys… this story I’m about to share with you is on another level. Be forewarned.

My husband, as many of you know, is a professional poker player. What is challenging about his career is that he never knows how far he will make it in a tournament. He could get knocked out in a day or end up playing for four days straight – like the particular event he played in this year. As day 3 concluded and my husband secured his spot at the final table, we decided I should come to Vegas and support him.

The problem? (Logistically speaking, of course.) Our dog, Riley.

It was 11 pm at night when Chris and I decided I should fly out the next morning. I knew I needed to act fast. Let me tell you there weren’t a lot of options between 11 pm and 5 am.

  • Plan A: My mom. Unfortunately, she couldn’t watch him because she was having a root canal performed bright and early. Next… 
  • Plan B: Boarding facilities. I immediately started researching nearby options. Chicago has a zillion, but the hang up for us was Riley didn’t have a fecal test within the last 6 months – all boarding facilities seem to require this. Not going to work. Next…
  • Plan C: Fly Riley to Vegas with me. He likes to be in bags. He should be totally fine. Plan C it is.

Chris confirmed that the hotel he was staying at was pet friendly while I was researching pet friendly airlines. I opted to go with United. When you fly with a pet, it is required that you sit in a middle or window seat. The only window seat left was on the 7:45 am flight. Yuck. I decided to take it though. I paid for my ticket + the $125 in-cabin pet fee + $25 over the phone booking fee (required call if booking a pet).

Ok, at this point – the cost is what it is. I needed to get to Vegas, so whatever.

Traveling to the airport, I was a complete ball of nerves. My dog has never flown on an airplane before. This could be amazing or it could be horrific. Riley seemed to be chill AF the entire Uber ride. He was just chillin in his carrier like it was no big deal. Seemed like we were off to a great start.

Checking in at the airport and going through security was an absolute breeze as well… maybe even easier than normal. I was pulled into special lines and it seemed I was expedited by every airline employee and TSA personnel I encountered. Riley remained calm through ALL of this.

You’re probably thinking this sounds so easy! Why won’t she ever do this again?! Well, this is where the story takes a serious turn.

Louis Vuitton Dog Bag United Airlines

I boarded the plane and gently placed Riley under the seat in front of me. Of course, he started to yip. Naturally, I’m getting evil eyes from everyone within ear shot of the yip. I bent down to console my little guy. As I opened the zipper to his bag just slightly, I realized he threw up all over his favorite stuffed toy. Greatttttttt. The aisle was super crowded with people boarding the plane. No stewardess in sight and I have absolutely nothing to clean this up with.

I decided to ignore it.

Seconds later, I see Riley turning around in circles inside of his kennel. He frequently does this when he wants to get comfortable before laying down. And then it hit me. He freaking took a sh*t in his kennel. ARE. YOU. KIDDING ME??? The scent hit everyone’s nose at the exact same time. The evil eyes bestowed upon me were now shooting daggers in my direction.

I immediately stood up and pulled his kennel out from under the seat. I said, “I have an emergency – I need to get to the bathroom immediately.” Upon trying to swim up-stream to get to the nearest bathroom on the plane, I encountered a flight attendant. I told him my problem. He was super sweet and brought me water to give the dog. I go in the bathroom and unzip the kennel. Riley was COVERED in feces from head to toe. He literally had explosive diarrhea that got all over the sides of the kennel. As he was rotating, the sh*t got on his paws, on his ears, his leash, his harness… I mean EVERYWHERE. He was beyond cleanable.

The stench was SO bad too. There is NO WAY I could fly with a dog covered in his own feces for four hours. I had literally no other option but to deboard the plane. The stewards kindly went back to my seat and grabbed my purse, cell phone, and jacket I left behind and I was escorted off the plane.

I was escorted off in the nick of time. My luggage, on the other hand, took a nice little trip to Vegas. Ugh… After filing a luggage claim, I was able to take my nasty dog home.

I jump into a taxi, put windows down, and start my way back to the city. It’s now 8 am. The frickin cab driver started yelling at me for having a dog in her car because she “could” have allergies. Then, she demanded I take him out of his kennel! This crazy woman kept pressing me on letting him out. I finally confessed he was covered in his own feces. That lead to her telling me how bad of a dog owner I am and that he’s stressed out because of me! Finally, I snapped and requested to drive the rest of the way in silence… and then we got stuck in morning rush hour, bumper to bumper traffic. Awkward.

Flying with In cabin Pet.JPG
Riley (and me) trying to get as much fresh air as possible.

As soon as we got back to our place, I gave him a bath and tried to clean up this disastrous situation.

Believe it or not, this was his kennel after I attempted to clean it at the airport. I double bagged his toy in poop bags to try and save it. It’s his fav.

As if this situation couldn’t get any worse, it did. Riley started sh*tting blood.


I had to take him to the vet and he’s now on two medications. He literally stressed himself out THAT bad. He’s ok now, but wow.

It took two full days to get my luggage back from Vegas. All my essentials (hair dryer, makeup, etc.) were packed, obviously. With Riley as sick as he was, this was the least of my problems.

At the end of the day, this was a very stressful and expensive mistake. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Flight $280
  • Pet Fee $125 (United also accidentally charged me twice for this)
  • Phone Fee $25
  • Uber to Airport $54
  • Taxi from Airport $55
  • Dog Medications $37
  • Missing Luggage – 2 day inconvenience +
  • Uber Back to Airport $30
  • Taxi from Airport $55
  • Louis Vuitton Pet Carrier – Cost unknown (will need to be professionally cleaned at minimum, might be destroyed)

Total: $786+

I decided it would be worth the effort to see if I could get some of my money back from United. They kindly refunded 100% of my money in less than five minutes. (I guess the woman who escorted me off the plane noted that my pet was ill, which helped my case.) Nevertheless, I wasn’t expecting a refund. I was VERY pleasantly surprised and beyond thankful.

If you are thinking about flying with your dog, my advice is just don’t. This was the biggest disaster ever, I had to miss my husband play his most successful game of poker to date, and feel so guilty for making my little pup sick. Not worth it.

XO, Lauren

P.S. My shampoo exploded and TSA searched my bag.

8 thoughts

  1. Holy shit. LOL! Literally…

    This sounds like a post I would write. I just had a very similar situation on a trip from Atlanta to Greece. Fortunately, it did not involve literal shit, only the metaphorical kind. thanks for the laugh though! 😉

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