The miracle of flight on an airplane is certainly amazing, but after reading these stories, it’s no wonder that some people are terrified of flying. From pilot error to passenger antics, here are the most disastrous (and occasionally heartwarming) moments ever to happen thousands of miles in the air. Buckle up, and let’s hope no one has any trans-Atlantic trips planned any time soon.
1. How Could You Not Know?
My husband was on a business flight from Vancouver to Tokyo a few years ago. They brought a young woman who was in medical distress up to business class across the aisle from him and called for any doctors on board to come forward. Long story short, she proceeded to give birth to an almost full-term baby. She claims she didn’t know she was pregnant—she didn’t look pregnant—and her boyfriend was totally freaking out. The baby was healthy in the end, so things worked out okay.
2. The Most Final Destination
Guy that sat a few rows behind me died of a massive heart attack. It was a flight from Kenya to Stockholm, and I think I was around 11 years old. They couldn’t land, as we were right above the desert, so they just kind of put a sheet over him and stored him under the stairs (it was a double-decker plane). I remember walking past the corpse on our way out the following morning, and the sheet didn’t cover his feet.
I was 50% excited and 50% terrified that I had seen dead-person feet.
3. Keeping It in the Family
As a private pilot of a small aircraft (therefore meaning I have to also act as the flight attendant), I luckily only take my friends and family as passengers. The worst incident was when I disengaged the aircraft’s autopilot. To the unknowing ear, it sounds like an emergency alert, so that caused a panic attack. Ever since then, I always mention it during the preflight briefing after teaching them to open and close the door and fasten and unfasten the seatbelt.
It was not a fun flight.
4. When in Armenia, Bribery Works
In Armenia I saw a guy trying to enter the plane with his bear Caucasian shepherd, after 30 minutes of “intense negotiations”($$) with the security and the pilot, he was allowed to travel with the bear dog on the seat next to him, the dog pooed himself on the take off, spent the flight chewing on the seats and puked on the landing.
5. Safety First
I once saw a guy wearing a bicycle helmet during the entire 7-hour flight.
6. No Sir, You Can’t Bring Your Machete Onboard
I process military flights and you wouldn’t believe the crap people try to smuggle to and from operational theaters. Smoke grenades: “I forgot I had them!” Pen flares: “But it’s not prepared to fire though!” A magazine full of 5.56 rounds: “I didn’t know it had to be empty!” Not to mention knives of all sizes hidden behind plates in body armor.
Top tip—you may as well clench the blade between your teeth like Rambo as it’s no less-subtle in a bag—it stands out like a sore thumb on a machine. In the defense of most squaddies, they’re tired and bored so they often make mistakes.
7. Now That’s Just Cruel
We were about to land, and got the typical message from the pilot talking about the weather, etc. At the end of the speech, he exclaims “NO DON’T TOUCH THA-,” right as the loudspeaker swiftly cuts out.
8. We Got Another Decapitated Head…
Once I was traveling back home from France having done a clay sculpture workshop while there, and a friend of mine had made a fairly-realistic life-sized head which she was carrying in her hand luggage. The look on the security guy’s face as that image popped up on the x-ray screen was absolutely priceless…
9. Pick Your Battles, Buddy
I’m a ground agent so I hear plenty of horror stories from our flight attendants. I do want to note, however, that it’s not just in the air that the passengers are trouble. We can tell from the moment they check in at the counter if they are going to be an issue, and are oftentimes not proven wrong. I really wish we were wrong on this case.
We had just finished boarding a flight and the FA pulled me into the cabin for a second. A passenger had gotten so drunk at the bar that he peed himself in his seat. We had to deplane him and he was about to have a go at my manager before he saw the port security casually saunter over. That stopped him in his tracks real quick.
10. Boy Meets Wall
I was on a flight from Amsterdam to New York one time, and there was a kid who was running up and down the aisles trying to bite people. As he was heading down the aisle at full speed, a stewardess suddenly pulled the refreshments cart into the aisle right in front of it and he ran smack into it, face-first. She said to him, “Oh, sorry, didn’t see you coming. You shouldn’t run like that down the aisle,” or something like that.
I know she did it on purpose. It was awesome.
11. Nothing Weird About a Guy With a Bag Full of Mannequin Parts
A friend works as a flight attendant. She told me about some guy who was stopped from going on a plane because he had a suitcase full of female mannequin parts, head, body, etc. all taken apart. Apparently, security thought he was smuggling, just turned out he liked mannequins.
12. That Escalated Quickly
My nose started bleeding and would. Not. Stop. Apparently, you don’t clot at altitude. That was also the day I discovered that if you lock yourself in the toilets for too long, they bang on the door till you open it. I was shirtless (I’m female) and COVERED in blood.
13. That’ll Do the Trick
I was on a flight to Boston about 7 years ago, flying in first class. There was a lady sitting across the aisle from me. Halfway into the flight she started tweaking really bad and kept begging me for a Xanax that I didn’t even have. She ended up getting out of her seat and banging on the cockpit door and screaming. She was arrested by US Marshals when we touched down.
14. The Eternal Struggle
Once I was in the bathroom on an airplane and we hit some turbulence. I whizzed everywhere.
15. Better Than Getting Arrested
Not an airport worker, but here is a story. About three weeks ago we surprised a friend of mine for his bachelor party. We were taking him down to Phoenix for a few days. His fiancé had packed a bag for him before we left, as we abducted him from work and went to the airport from there. We check in and get our tickets, and head to the security checkpoint.
As we are waiting to go through, we ask if anyone has cards, so we can kill some time before our flight once we get through security. The bachelor checks his bag because he thinks he left some there from the last trip he took. He reaches into the side pocket and pulls out a folding knife. Apparently, his fiancée hadn’t checked the side pockets when she packed for him.
At that point, we were about four people away from going through. He panicked a bit and wasn’t sure what to do with it. His first thought was to leave it on the ground next to a 1/2 full can of Bud Light that was sitting there, which I am sure would have caused a ruckus. Instead, he handed it in and lost his $15 camping knife.
16. Wave to the Nice Man, Sweetie
I once looked out the window to see a MiG-23 Soviet jet fighter flying beside us. It was close enough to clearly make out the pilot looking at us. He stayed there for a minute or two longer, then banked away. This was in ’88 or ’89, flying from Moscow to Kiev.
17. Starstruck, Literally!
My former roommate’s mother had ice thrown in her face by Chevy Chase.
18. It’s All a Big Lie!
My partner worked for Delta for about four years as one of the guys who loads and unloads your luggage and waves wands. Nothing is safe in those bags. They pop open all the time and your things just get haphazardly shoved back in. They get tossed around like volleyballs. TSA is a lie. A lot of decisions about boarding or switching flights, etc., are completely at employee’s discretion.
19. Can Tragedy Strike Twice?
I was traveling to Europe June of 2009, shortly after the French plane from Brazil crashed, Air France Flight 447. We were exactly over the same place it crashed, and there was the most INSANE amount of turbulence due to a storm. Whatever idea you have in your head, multiply that by like 100. Maybe even more than that.
It was so bad that me, my mom, my sister, and the rest of the plane were crying, some more than others. Everyone knew what happened to the French plane not even a few days before. My mom was making a prayer for us—my mom, 14-year-old me, and 8-year-old sister had to accept death. There was this Norwegian lady who was knocked the heck out, and woke up an hour later when it was not as bad.
When she woke up, she was hysterical, everyone told her this was much better than what we faced an hour ago. I seriously hate turbulence on plane rides.
20. Chorus of Tears
Not just one. Not just two. Not even just three. Four. Four screaming babies that refused to go to sleep and instead turned what would have been a mild 3-and-a-half-hour flight into one of the single worst experiences of my life. My only comfort was that I was not alone in my misery.
21. If You Act Like a Princess, You Get Princess Yogurt
Former flight attendant here. I’m no longer a flight attendant for too many reasons to count. Worked for a private charter company for two years. Lots of oil riggers, miners, and private tours. It was pretty much just a bunch of man-children and entitled jerks. Used to fly a bunch of 30 days on/7 days off type guys up in northern BC.
These guys were notoriously bad, they just didn’t give a hoot and the company we subcontracted out of didn’t help by letting them basically do whatever they felt like. They really had that “I don’t care about your petty rules” mentality about everything, which translated oh so well to being told what to do by a measly flight attendant.
Middle of December, I get put on a 4-day pairing to unload these guys, which has me up at 5 am to board the plane, which takes off at 6:30AM, then does an 11 hour loop going south with 3 stops and back up to park, and then repeat, putting me back at the hotel at 6:00 PM each night. Crew Sched had scheduled in absolute minimum crew rest, meaning any minor delay screws the whole pairing.
Literally 20 minutes before first day’s takeoff, one of the NAV units blows (Airplanes have two but must fly with both for this very reason). This delayed us considerably because another plane had to fly in with a whole other crew and a replacement piece. By the time we take off it’s 10 am, and another crew takes half our leg.
The guys have been talking to the delayed passengers so we’re getting a ton of “Your planes are pieces of junk,” “you guys are a total joke,” and tons of other abuse hurled at us. And of course it’s only the first day. On top of this, fellow F/A gets deathly ill and gets sent home after day 1, right alongside our mechanic who is sleep-deprived and blows the slide trying to rush off the plane.
Pretty much the worst day and we still have 3 more to go. Fast forward to final day and we are WIPED out and just needing to get out of there. I’ve slept in and gone without a morning cigarette, which has put me a little on the edgy side. We’re in the middle of taxiing to the runway and doing our safety demonstration when the In-Charge calls me via interphone.
Her voice is shot from doing announcements for the past 4 days straight, and she asks me to do them. I finish my checks in the back and start up the demo, keep in mind this is an extremely short taxi (small BC airport). As I’m doing the demo and the pilots are waiting for us to give the clear, some idiot jumps out of the seat.
Since they’ve been told 3 times since boarding to remain seated with seatbelts fastened as we’re about to take off, I assume it’s an emergency and he bee-lines it to me right in the middle of me speaking the demo, which I promptly stop. I ask him if he’s ok and am met with: “Get me a pillow.” Mustering all my calmness, I explain to him that I can get one for him the second we get in the air as we’re about to take off and the pillows are located near the OW exits, and I can’t interrupt our safety checks and procedures.
“JUST GET ME A PILLOW” I swear, there are only a small number of times I can say I’ve visibly seen red, and this was one of them. I can’t remember exactly what I said but I’m pretty sure it was along the lines of “I’m not your freaking slave” and “sit the heck down.” He saunters off to his seat where he starts arguing with another passenger.
I immediately regret it, and continue the demo while keeping an eye on him. Thankfully nothing really came of it, only the hilarious karma of telling a passenger I wasn’t their freaking slave and realizing soon thereafter that the commissary they packed for us to give out was mini-cupcakes and Disney princess yogurt that I had to serve him…..
22. Double Entendre
My wife used to be a flight attendant for Air Canada. It’s not really a bad story but the one she likes to tell was about an elderly man whose first language was not English, who button holed her as she walked by (not her section) and said, “Excuse me miss, for twenty minutes I have been fingering the stewardess and still she has not come.”
23. Welcome to My Sick, Twisted Web
I’m a flight instructor at this point and I’m flying with a student. We see a spider in the cockpit. I’m ok with spiders, but I don’t want it distracting the student, so I mash it. Student missed the spider but saw my movement and asked what it was. I responded “It was a spider, I killed it” as I’m glancing into the backseat area.
I manage to casually add “…why, are you scared of spiders?” without the student noticing the break in the sentence. Turns out the student is scared of spiders. For the rest of that flight, I squished spiders behind my student’s back as they came forward from the nest I had just spotted in the back of the plane. He never knew.
24. I Want That When I Retire
I was on the retirement flight for a long-time pilot. We received the fire truck salute on the way to the gate. Basically, they shoot water from their trucks across the taxiway, right over the plane as it passes underneath.
25. Swiper No Swiping!
Not me, but my dad, who was a first officer (co-pilot) at the time. I won’t disclose the airline or the airport. They had lined up the plane on the runway, ready to take off, when a fox ran across the runway. It stopped in between the runways to hunt, and my dad and the pilot called into the tower, telling them they were going to have to wait for a fox to exit the premises.
They didn’t want to take off because they didn’t want to suck it up in the engines and crash the plane. Tower asked them to confirm it was a fox and asked which area they were in so they could send someone out to take care of it. They said they’d had prior experience with said creature, and would get out there right away.
The Captain responded and the plane waited. So, after watching the fox jump around a bit, the Captain got on the intercom and informed the passengers why they were being delayed, and because he and my dad had taken a shine to the fox, the Captain indicated where the passengers could look to see it, too. Everyone was loving the fox.
Suddenly, an airport maintenance truck drove into view and headed towards them, no big deal (Most airports have dogs or something to chase off wildlife that they can then call back). Then my dad and the Captain noticed that the truck wasn’t slowing down. The truck hit the fox going at full speed. My dad said it was terrible and sent the fox tumbling.
Obvious that it was dead, and the truck drove off. Awestruck with horror, my dad and the Captain turned to look at each other. The Captain then got on the intercom and apologized to the passengers for what they had just seen. They indicated that was not the standard practice they’d been expecting, and gave out numbers to the passengers who had witnessed the event so that they could call the airport staff and report what they had seen.
My dad told me that both he and the Captain felt terrible because they had, unknowingly, called in a hit on the poor little guy (the airport clearly had some strange past with it), then let all of the passengers watch. Clearly, not a great flight for anyone. In short, the whole plane watched a fox get viciously run over by the ground crew.
26. Who Needs That Many Machetes
My uncle accidentally forgot to take out a machete from a backpack. TSA pulled it out and held it out in front of him and asked: “So what’s this?” Uncle: “Oh shoot, oops…it’s okay, take it, I got several more at home.”
27. Make Sure It Doesn’t Strike Twice
Not a pilot but a passenger. I was on a 16-seater turboprop when suddenly there’s a loud bang, all the lights go out, and we drop. We’re all looking around like what’s going on, is this how we die? After a few minutes, the lights come back on and the pilot comes in the PA, says, “Sorry about that folks, but we were just struck by lightning. No need to worry, everything seems to be working. Except for the radar. It’s fried.”
I may have worried a little.
28. Hey, I Know You!
This doctor wouldn’t get off the flight even though we had to remove him to make room for our airline’s employees who were traveling, so security came and forcibly removed him. All the other passengers videoed it and it went viral, and the passenger won like $140 M in a settlement just for being a pain in the butt.
29. I’m Old Enough to Be PO’ed, Ma’am
Well, when I was 13, I flew from Denver to Sydney solo. My flight out of Denver was 15 minutes late taking off. No big deal; I could easily make my layover in San Francisco. Except when I disembarked, the gate attendant stopped me because there was a whole debate on whether or not I was flying unassisted or with an escort flight attendant.
Again, easy problem to solve. I try telling everybody that I have copies of all my paperwork saying I get to go solo. Every time I tried to speak up to tell them this, the adults would shush me or simply talk over me. They eventually held me until I missed my flight. So here I am, stuck halfway across a continent, alone in a city I’ve never been to before.
So, I finally convince them to just call my mom, who takes nobody’s foolishness. They set me up for the night in a hotel room with a flight attendant. I only have a backpack with some books and my discman. No change of clothes, toothbrush, etc. We go eat their continental breakfast, and I grabbed a grapefruit half because everything else looked gross and grapefruit is awesome.
The flight attendant asks me if I’m on a diet, then looks at me like maybe I should be (I don’t think I was 100 lbs at the time). My host (jailer) had to get a on a flight, so we go back to the airport where I’m locked in the unaccompanied minor’s room. It had half a set of Jenga blocks, 11 pieces of a 12-piece puzzle, and two episodes of Degrassi playing on a loop.
I was stuck there for 12 hours. Nobody told me I had three free meal tickets, so I didn’t eat all day. Then finally at 10 at night, I get on my flight to Sydney. After 36 hours, I had a breakfast in flight. All because everybody decided a 13-year-old girl had no right to self-advocate.
30. They Were Quite the Bird-en on Him
I’m a commercial airline pilot. Once, a bunch of large birds, cranes I think, came wandering across the runway while I was trying to land. I had to do a go-around but managed to land the second time around, and it was my smoothest landing ever.
31. Missed Connections
I used to read a lot when I was younger. I was about halfway through The Hardy Boys books when our family went on a vacation. I sat next to an older woman and pulled out my book to read. I was terrified that she would, in typical old-lady fashion, start asking old-lady questions about my reading and my schoolwork, etc.
So, I tried hard to ignore her. To my surprise, the only question she asked was, “Is that a book you read for fun or is it for school?” I responded with a one-word answer: “Fun.” Then she pulled out her bag and a ball of yarn and knitting supplies. She asked if I wouldn’t mind her elbows getting in the way. I scooted over away from her as best I could.
I was so uncomfortable and awkward. For the remainder of the three-hour flight, I endured her bumping me with her elbows. I was visibly annoyed. As the pilot signaled us that our descent had begun, she tied off her knitting and handed me a ball of something. I unraveled it. A bookmark. She spent the three-hour flight knitting me this gorgeous bookmark.
It had a tassel and a pattern and everything. Perfectly functional. I felt like such an jerk for blowing her off throughout the flight. We had a great conversation about how she used to read Nancy Drew and whatnot. She was actually a pretty cool old lady. So not only was I incredibly uncomfortable for three hours, but I spent the last 15 minutes of the flight guiltily trying to make up for how much of a jerk little kid I was.
32. Too Sweet to Smell
14 (ish) hour flight from Vancouver, Canada to Shanghai, China. The old Chinese man beside me who spoke only Mandarin had really, really bad gas the whole way through. Things got really bad when he curled up in his seat to sleep, butt pointed toward me so he could face his wife. Worst part? They were a super sweet couple (as revealed through tons of smiling and nodding from each of us), and so I didn’t want to make their flight worse by complaining to the flight attendant.
I swallowed my pride and a whole lot of old Chinese male gas that day.
33. This Is America
I don’t work at an airport but I have a story of being at an airport. I happened to be flying somewhere just a few days after they made the 3oz. or less rule for liquids a few years back. Everyone was kind of confused, and couldn’t seem to get it right, and the TSA people were getting understandably pissed. The people checking what was going through the machines were constantly setting off the buzzer, then would have to show passengers what they had that wasn’t allowed.
It was a mess, I was in security for an extra 45 minutes with people throwing away shampoo, etc. Everyone was angry at each other. Right before I went through one of the TSA managers said: “Alright that’s it!” And he stood up on a table in front of everyone, held up an entire handle of tequila and shouted, “THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU CANNOT TAKE ON BOARD. IF YOU HAVE ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THIS MUCH LIQUID IT CANNOT COME THROUGH HERE!”
The visual was what made it amazing. A middle-aged, skinny, white man holding a bottle of tequila over his head screaming at 7 in the morning at the Denver Airport. It was what America is all about.
34. Lazy Landing
I was on a domestic flight from Montreal to Toronto, where the pilot accidentally landed at an international gate, so we all had to go through international customs. More than half of the passengers didn’t have passports and had to get some staff to escort them out of customs after a while of waiting. The whole thing took hours.
35. I Think You All Got Pranked
Just over a year ago, I made a cross-country move from Louisiana to California. Not long before that, though, I had to fly out here to look for apartments and my flight from Dallas to San Francisco experienced a rather odd mechanical failure just before take-off. “Well, folks,” the captain said over the intercom, “I’m, uh… I’m holding the door to the First Class bathroom door in my hands here. It looks like it… uh… fell off.”
He paused for a moment, perhaps to let news of this dire calamity sink in. “We’re going to get the mechanic out here to fix it for us. It, uh… it looks like it only needs a screw, so we should be in the air before too long.” I had already been delayed by a full day at this point—inclement weather having canceled my previous morning’s flight—and I could all but count the precious seconds ticking away.
After about half an hour, the captain came back to offer us an update. “It, uh, looks like the screw is a, uh… a special part. The mechanic is going to have to go get one. Not long now, though, folks. Just, uh… sit tight, and we’ll take off as soon as we can.” Groans punctuated the announcement, and I heard a man in front of me mutter about how First Class passengers didn’t need their own bathroom.
Several more minutes went by, after which the tense atmosphere was again filled with the sound of the captain’s voice. “Okay,” the man said, “So, uh… the Uber is here to take the mechanic to Home Depot. Once he buys the screw and brings it back, we should be able to get underway.” At first, everyone in the airplane seemed to think that the announcement was a joke…but an air of horrified dread darkened the cabin as the captain’s words were revealed to be a completely factual account of events.
Worse still, the trip to the hardware store turned out to be for naught, as it was soon discovered that the door was missing a washer and some ball bearings, which were allegedly stored on the opposite side of the airport. This necessitated an even longer trip on the part of the mechanic, who—after having allegedly been informed of the problem by cellphone—needed to make his way to whatever hidden cache of parts would house the ones he needed.
I found myself wondering why he didn’t just buy them at Home Depot.
36. Representing the Good Old US of A
I was on a flight last night and the only Americans on the plane were playing beer pong with each other from across the aisle.
37. Not Enough Room for the Both of Us
Half the passengers in this story had no idea, while the other half likely pooped themselves. My father was a captain for Eastern Airlines and told a story about almost being at takeoff speed when another commercial jet taxied across his runway. He was going too fast to abort, so he had to pull up early and cleared the other plane by feet (don’t remember the exact amount).
His passengers had no idea, but the other plane’s passengers saw everything. I don’t know what ended up happening to the other pilot, but my dad got an apology call from him that evening.
38. Light on His Feet
I was trying to go to sleep a couple of rows behind a kid with those light up shoes. His parents seemed oblivious to how much glare it was causing, especially since the lights were darkened throughout the rest of the cabin. I could understand if they need to walk to the bathroom or whatnot. In my case, however, nope, the kid was firmly in his seat, and the lights were going off from his shoes (perhaps from him hitting the back of the next row).
That, I’ll never understand. Also, I remember being a kid in the early 90s having shoes like those, but I certainly don’t remember them being nearly as bright or seizure-inducing as they seem to be today.
39. Have a “Safe” Flight
At the airport: I have TSA Precheck, so I get to go through the fast line, leave electronics in bag, etc. I was on a business trip coming back from Detroit to Toronto. TSA flags my bag to go through the X-ray again. And again. And again. The third time, a guy comes, picks up my bag, asks if there is anything sharp he may hurt himself on (No) before he pulls out my phone charger, kindle charger, and laptop charger.
He puts the chargers back in the bag, sends the bag through. Flagged again. The guy told the woman at the machine to get up and leave after she couldn’t even identify a phone charger on the machine without claiming it was dangerous. On the actual flight: again, flying home to Toronto, this time from Tampa. Apparently, there was a storm rolling in and the pilots were trying to outrun it.
Usually when a plane reaches the start of a runway, they line up, stop, ask for clearance, then take off. We did not stop. They opened the throttle before we had fully completed the turn, which was how I knew stuff was going to be serious. We were screaming through the sky. Climbed steeper than I ever have, stayed at high throttle the whole way.
I linked into the internet to tell my friends that we were hauling butt. We land 40 minutes early and practically skid into the jet bridge. We were the last flight allowed to land.
40. There’s Good News and Bad News
Flight attendant secrets: On trans-oceanic flights there is a cabin for the crew to get some sleep. No, you won’t be invited in for fun times. On some newer planes, there’s also a hold for people who have died on the flight. No, you won’t be invited in for fun times either.
41. You Don’t Need to Crash to Burn
I was flying back to the upper Midwest from Jamaica (fairly long flight) and hit a big storm over the ocean before hitting the mainland. My buddy was sitting next to me and had just gotten back from the bathroom when we hit some major turbulence. Because of this, he didn’t have his seat belt on when the plane dropped a good 20 or 30ft.
It was like a full free-fall moment out of the movies, everybody’s drinks and all, and he flew up and hit the ceiling and then came back down. Meanwhile, a lady in the row next to us who was part of one of those Jesus trips (like the groups all wearing the same t-shirts) starts hyperventilating and screaming that she doesn’t want to die over and over.
She also straight up poops her pants. Turbulence eventually went away, but the smell of her poop lasted the remaining 3 hours of the flight…
42. Freebies Get You Places
I walked onto the plane and gave the first flight attendant I saw a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures: “This is for the crew.” The whole flight I was given free headphones and all the free drinks I could handle. I tried to pay but she just kept giving me my money back with every drink.
43. Flight for the Whole Family
When I was a teenager, my dad was earning his pilot’s license. It was the best, and we always got to go on lessons. We all liked his instructor and had him around for dinner often. He and my dad would make sports bets. Well, instructor Chris lost, and the payment was a ride with him on this twin engine just for fun.
It’s a clear night, so we go. Chris and dad are flying, and my mom, baby sis, and I are in the back. My sister fell asleep before we even get to the runway. We take off, and immediately something is very wrong. There are suddenly loud bangs all over the plane like metal is hitting it, and the plane pitches like crazy.
My mom had a headset, so I reached over and grabbed one side so I could hear. Chris is freaked out, but I heard my dad say, calm as heck, “We fly the plane first and panic later,” then start radioing others that we are circling back for emergency landing. At this point, my mom grabs the headset back and I just sat still.
They landed the plane perfectly. Turns out there was an outside compartment on the nose of the plane that was open, so on take off it flew open and a bunch of stuff hit the plane. We got out, all of us shaken, and then my little sister pipes up, “Daddy, are we going to fly now?” We all just lost it laughing, we could barely breathe.
My dad can’t fly now, but I’m saving up. Next time he comes to visit, I’m going to make sure I’ve had a few lessons, and I’ll take him flying this time. Those flying lessons were some of the best moments of my childhood.
44. The Environmentalist
I accidentally brought 100+ spent shell casings from a rifle through security. I didn’t want to leave empty casings laying around after shooting with some friends so I put them in a Ziploc bag and forgot about them. It was in my carry on and discovered them when I got home. This was after 9/11 so either the TSA working knew they were spent or wasn’t paying attention.
45. He Had All The Luck, But It Wasn’t Enough
A guy died next to me once. On a flight from Maui to Dallas, I was half-asleep in the second-to-last row of the plane. While I was listening to music and dozing, I suddenly heard a really loud, hard “THUD” next to me. I look over, and there’s a man lying on the ground, completely still. I thought maybe he had tripped, but the flight attendant came running and found that he was unresponsive.
She frantically ran up and down the aisles asking for doctors. Coincidentally, the flight was full of vacationing doctors and nurses, all of them in ridiculous clothes. Two of the doctors who came back were in Hawaiian shirts and golf attire, and the female nurse who came back was wearing a very strappy, revealing blue Hawaiian print dress.
The doctors tried to wake the man up, but he was gone. I was surprised to find out just how much medical equipment they have on commercial flights. First, the docs whipped out a portable defibrillator and shocked the guy, then set up an IV drip for him. I never heard a word out of him or saw him move, and I’m not sure if they ever saw anything either.
Our flight was diverted to LA, and when we landed half a dozen paramedics ran on the plane to pull the guy out on a gurney. Unfortunately for me, this whole scenario set off a panic attack. I had to go find a nice spot in the aisle to lie down so that I didn’t pass out and cause more problems for the crew and doctors. It was embarrassing.
46. Daredevil Pilot
The pilot, over the loudspeaker: “All right ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking…We’re right on time for our landing in Chicago…We’ll be making this flight at 50,000 MPH, flying at 500 feet.” I will treasure that mental image forever.
47. Grounded by Life Below
I had to fly back home from across the country because my dad fell into cardiac arrest and wasn’t expected to make it. I had one phone call with my mother explaining the situation, and that’s all I heard from anyone. I was on a plane home with the thought that my dad had passed at some point during the flight. It was so, so brutal.
Being on an 8+ hour plane trip with the thought of not seeing your father ever again and every painful emotion racing through while being in the air with a plane full of strangers was one of the worst moments of my life. Hope I never experience anything like that ever again. But I will add that once I hit the ground, I was told that my father had woken up and was making progress against the odds. Glad to this day I still have him.
48. All Dogs Go to Heaven at This Rate
I was earning my private pilot’s certificate in 2002 in Florida. I was on my first solo flight (no passengers) that wasn’t just touch-and-gos. Took off from Melbourne and flew 30-ish minutes to a small, uncontrolled airport to do a few take offs and landings. I was on final approach, and probably less than 7 seconds before my wheels touched the runway, a pack of 4 or 5 dogs ran into the runway.
Thank God I was able to throttle up all the way and do a go-around. I wasn’t quite sure what to do at that point, so I got on the radio and warned other pilots at the airport and in the traffic pattern that there were dogs on the loose. I have no freaking idea how those dogs got there, but I surely would have been seriously injured or maybe even killed had I hit them.
I told my flight instructor about the near-disaster after I got back to Melbourne, and I think he thought I was either making it up or exaggerating.
49. You Can’t Argue With That Logic
We were flying from Atlanta to Washington DC. About 45 seconds after take-off, the guy beside me unbuckled himself and starting running up the incredibly steep aisle. The flight attendants immediately start yelling at him to sit down, even going so far as to fumble with the intercom. About 10 feet from the front of the plane, one of the crew said: “Sir, I’m going to have to demand you sit down.”
He replied: “Ma’am, I am going to soil my pants.” He barricaded himself in the bathroom for about 10 minutes. When he emerged, he was met with both clapping and angry looks from flight attendants. He ordered water with no ice in it when they got to our aisle.
50. Another Satisfied Customer
Not me, but my friend said a guy died of cardiac arrest during a flight from Tokyo to San Francisco. They were right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when it happened and they had to bag up the body, and since there wasn’t any space in the galleys or anywhere else, they put him in his original seat, next to people who were very much alive.
51. Have an Ice Time Waiting
I was on a flight to Chicago. We were supposed to land at O’Hare, but about 30 minutes before landing, they told us it was too icy and we were being diverted to Midway—the two airports are about 26 miles apart. So we land at Midway, disembark, and as we are leaving the skyway, a gate agent runs up and tells us we need to get back on the plane.
They were now going to take it to O’Hare. We all said screw it, we’ll stay here. She then informed us our bags wouldn’t be getting unloaded, so we would need to go to the other airport to get them. We got back on the plane, and then had to wait about 20 minutes for them to de-ice the exterior. After that, it was a 15-minute flight to O’Hare.
52. Too Good to Be True
I was about 15 and flirting with a cute girl in the seat next to me. My family was about two rows back with my younger brother, and the lady that occupied the third seat pretty much set me up for the entire flight. This elderly lady was the best wing-person ever. Anyway, that isn’t the crazy part. I get up to use the restroom, and the cute girl says she has to go too.
She gets out first, and I wait for her to finish up. We’ve been flirting pretty much the whole flight, and she knows that I’m right behind her in line. So she finishes using the bathroom and I walk in. Right there in the toilet is a gigantic, unflushed turd. To this day I have no idea how you respond to something like that.
53. Every Hello Is a Goodbye
A man shows up at the airport with two dozen beautiful roses, says his wife has been on a business trip for two weeks, and he is there to surprise her and bring her home, and needs help finding her. Find her. She gets off the flight. Drunk as a skunk. Needs a wheelchair. We get her up front to where her husband is waiting on the checkpoint exit.
He surprises her, she puts her hand in her face, looks up and says, “I’m leaving you, I found (some guy name not audible) on my trip and I love him.” She threw the roses on the ground. He picked them up, clearly shaken, said he can’t do this, said goodbye, and off he went. No idea what happened after that. But this guy was on Cloud 9 surprising his wife, and she completely destroyed him in seconds.
54. Sympathy Isn’t Always a Good Thing
I was in an aisle seat on a flight from LA to Austin, Texas. About an hour into the flight, I notice this awful smell. I look up from my book just in time to see this 70-year-old woman heaving up in her lap. Since I’m what you might call a “sympathy heaver,” I turn toward the people in the other seats to try and avoid doing the same thing.
After about a minute of this, she is led to the bathroom. Still, I get to spend the rest of the flight gagging as this smell continues to permeate my nostrils. The flight attendants tried to clean it as best they could, but it made no real improvement.
55. Getting Even
One time on a flight, I had a slight cold and the air was pretty dry and I was coughing a lot. I was sitting in a middle seat so I didn’t want to drink too much water and have to constantly get up to pee, so I resolved to just keep coughing into my scarf, trying to keep the noise and disturbance to a minimum. Two rows in front of me, I see a gentleman staring at me every single time I cough.
Now, I understand that you don’t want to be stuck in a limited space with someone who is sick…but if you’re flying in the winter, sick passengers is something you’re going to have to risk. And again, I was being very careful to cough into my scarf or suppress it so as to not disturb the people around me. He spends the whole 3-hour flight staring at me and muttering at me but I just ignore it.
When the plane finally lands and we are getting off, I see him up ahead, standing to the side, talking to a flight attendant. And as he is talking to the flight attendant, he is glancing at me and saying, “How can you let those type of people on the plane? They could have SARS or something (I’m Asian).” The flight attendant is just smiling and nodding but I can tell she’s just ignoring him like I was.
I was pretty offended he thought I had SARS just because I was Asian and coughing. At baggage claims, I made sure to stand near him and cough without covering my mouth.
56. Stick to the Script
So we’re flying out of Cleveland, and the pilot comes over the PA and gives his welcome. “So we’re just leaving Cleveland, and we should be in… ummm….” Then, slightly under his breath, but not quiet enough to hide it from everyone else, he says, “Where we going again?” There’s a long pause… then he bursts out, “Chicago!” Everyone laughed. Ah, good times in high times.
57. Leading a Mutiny
Passenger here, and I was probably “that guy” on the flight. I was flying back from an overseas vacation, as were most of the other people on the plane. Very early flight. Over international waters, they try to sell you all sorts of duty-free stuff like perfume and liquor. And also credit cards. They’d turn the PA system on blast and every 15-20 minutes or so would bother the whole plane by trying to sell this stuff.
Now, it’s about 6:30 am and I’m rocking the worst hangover of my life and running on about 3 hours of sleep. All I wanted to do was sleep on the flight on the way home, and looking around the plane, I can assume that most everyone else was in a similar situation. We were all getting so frustrated with it and I’d had enough.
After about the 5th or 6th time of being woken up by these loud flight attendants, I called one over and said something like “okay, you’ve already advertised the duty-free perfume and liquor 3 times and already told us about the credit card deal three times. Can you please knock it off so we can get some rest?” They kept doing it. I asked again. They kept doing it.
Finally, I hit my breaking point when they tried to sign us up for a credit card for the 5th freaking time and yelled “SHUT THE HECK UP ALREADY!” Then the rest of the plane chimed in… “Yeah, shut the heck up!” and “we’re trying to sleep” and “nobody wants the darn credit card.” For the rest of the flight, every time they said anything over the PA system, more and more people joined in telling them to shut the heck up.
Toward the end of the flight, they tried the credit card thing one last time. The PA system made a “ding” noise every time they turned it on before they started speaking. So the PA goes “DING” and this dude in the back of the plane says “ONE, TWO, THREE” then the whole plane yells “SHUT THE HECK UP!”
58. Is There a Draft in Here?
About 20 minutes into a flight to Hawaii when I was 9, there was a really loud noise coming from behind us. My stepdad asked the flight attendant, “What’s that noise?” She looked back and said, “Oh, the door isn’t shut,” then turned the handle and locked the door.
59. Ready, Aim, Fluff
In grade 12, I was on a band trip to New York. We flew there, as it’s a long drive from Vancouver. We were seated alphabetically, and the school band took up a good ten rows of the plane. This also resulted in my two friends and I sitting close together. Toward the very end of the flight, my two friends turn to me and say that on the count of three, we’re going to throw our in-flight pillows at another mutual friend some four or five rows back.
Pillows not being so aerodynamic, this led to only one of them hitting its intended target, and the other two hitting two other people. All three of the hit people grabbed their pillows and, in addition to the ones we just threw, chucked ’em back at us. Again, only some of them made it all the way back to us, with other people being hit and caught up in it.
Eventually, it spiraled so out of control that there was, for a good five or ten minutes, about nine pillows in the air at all times! The crew eventually made an announcement to ask passengers to “Please refrain from throwing loose items at each other.” The teachers were pissed, but it was so, so worth it.
60. Little White Lie
My good friend from grade school’s dad is a private pilot. He flies everyone from rich people to celebrities. One time he had this ridiculously obnoxious woman and her (many years her senior) rich husband who slept through the whole flight. This woman would NOT stop pestering my friend’s dad about stupid things, so my friend’s dad decides to have some fun.
He convinces the woman that there is an ejector-seat button that he can press that will throw her out of the plane. The look on her face was priceless, he said she genuinely believed him. Anyways, this shut the old witch up and the flight was quiet after that. Good on my friend’s dad, honestly, some people need a wake up call.
61. Welcome to our Intergenerational Struggle
On a three-hour flight, I was sat between two obese women who were a mother and her grown daughter. They kept talking over me. When I asked if one of them wanted to switch with me, they laughed and said, “Oh no! We are fine! Mom wants the window and I like the aisle.” So, I had to just sit there between them awkwardly with my arms crossed (they both claimed the armrests) while they talked over me.
62. Nothing Like a Long Flight to Work on Your Memoir
Direct from Moscow to Houston on a Singapore Airlines flight. Behind us sat an elderly Singaporean couple who took off their shoes and used our armrests to put their feet up. The smell was unbearable. I was in the middle seat, my boyfriend on the window side, and an older guy on the aisle. The older guy starts by complaining nonstop about the smell.
He’s berating the flight attendants over it. They keep asking the elderly couple to move their feet, but they keep putting them back. The man eventually decides to calm down. He introduces himself to me by telling me that I better not have to use the restroom during the 13-hour flight because he won’t feel like moving.
He then spends several hours telling me, through my headphones and obvious disinterest, about all the languages he speaks, the places he’s worked, and all the money he makes. At one point, he was telling me about his childhood in Louisiana and I (having no idea what to say because I don’t want to talk) mention I have family in Shreveport.
He takes the opportunity to make it clear how stupid I am because it’s not relevant because it’s several hours from his hometown. About halfway through, I told him to let me out to use the restroom and watched him storm around the cabin like a toddler in anger. He berated me about my timing (?) when I returned to my seat.
63. Airline Abandonment
Once I flew to Shanghai, and an old man in a wheelchair was wheeled off my flight. There was a huge kerfuffle at the exit as no one had come to pick him up. Normally for wheelchair-bound elderly people, airline employees hand over to a relative. This man had dementia and when they called his family in Australia, who had put him on the plane, they said they couldn’t cope with him anymore.
He had a slip of paper with the phone number of his other child in China who said they never agreed to look after him and didn’t want anything to do with him. So the airline called the police and in the end, they said the old man would be taken to a homeless shelter to wait for a government-sponsored nursing home. I don’t know what happened to him, but it was incredibly sad.
64. She Didn’t Play by the Rules
We’ve all had in-air experiences with crying babies, rude people, strange odors, and broken amenities, but those are pretty much par for the course when you fly. My story didn’t come as the result of any such expected inconvenience, but rather at the hands of someone trying to be nice. I was about 8 years old, and although I can’t recall what destination my family had chosen, I doubt if I’ll ever forget the time that I spent on that flight.
Due to some issue or another with our tickets, the four of us—my mother, my father, my younger brother, and me—had been seated in seemingly random spots throughout the airplane. None of us were next to each other. This would have been fine if it hadn’t been for the fact that my neighbor was an incredibly attractive young woman who seemed to be entirely oblivious to every rule that governed polite society.
Or, at least, every rule as they were understood by an 8-year-old. Within moments of sitting down next to the girl, she’d done her best to engage me in conversation. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to speak to strangers, and thus her friendly small talk made me very uncomfortable. Not, as you might think, because I was wary of dialogue with her, but because I knew that my parents might walk by and catch me.
Her next transgression was taking out and turning on her Walkman while the plane was in the process of taking off. For those of you who may not recall, a Walkman was like an iPod, except that it could only hold about two dozen songs and it had a tendency to transform them into spaghetti. I can remember scrambling to grab the safety pamphlet from the seat in front of me, then frantically pointing at the section that warned about electronic devices being inactive during takeoff.
The girl just smiled reassuringly and kept right on with her forbidden activity, causing me to grip my armrest in terror. If that had been the end of things, I might have escaped without the psychological scarring that I still carry…but unfortunately, the young woman was far from finished. About midway through the flight, she dug through her purse and pulled out a small package of something, which she opened with a nonchalant smile.
“Max,” she said to me, “Would you like a cherry cough drop?” Alarm bells rang in my head like they never had before. My mother had always told me that any stranger who offered me medicine was gearing up to do some very nasty things to me. She had never specified what those nasty things were, but I knew that they had to be truly abhorrent.
Maybe, though, just maybe, the girl didn’t realize that cough drops were medicine, and was simply one of those people who ate them for their flavor. I’d heard legends of folks like that, and if it happened that my seatmate was one of them, maybe this was an opportunity for education.
“Oh, no, no thank you,” I replied, “I’m not sick or anything.” “Okay!” the girl said brightly. “…Are you sick?” I asked, hoping to prod the conversation forward. In the face of this new potential threat, I’d all but forgotten about not talking to strangers. The young woman shook her head. “Nope!” I felt the panic in my chest start to subside. “Then why are you eating cough drops? They’re medicine, you know.”
“Oh, I know!” the girl said with a laugh. “But they taste wonderful, and they help me relax.” The klaxons in my head started blaring with renewed vigor. Not only was this stranger talking to me, but she was also one of those people who ate medicine for fun…and she was trying to offer me some! I’d been warned about all three of those things, but never in my life had I expected to meet such a threatening trifecta of terror.
I spent the rest of the flight in complete silence, all the while ready to scream if the petite 17-year-old next to me showed any signs of attempting a kidnapping.
65. Snack Food Fallout
A lady sitting next to me, clearly inebriated, threw a Twinkie about five rows ahead of us and it basically exploded on this bald dude’s head. Cream went literally everywhere. He wasn’t pleased and she was escorted off after we landed.
66. Because He Can
On my flight back in March I was sitting catty-corner from this guy who was fine-ish when we boarded but through the flight got more and more drunk and belligerent, which escalated to yelling and cursing, and then after the flight landed, to showing the flight attendant a small pocket knife, at that point just because he “could” and he was a belligerent jerk.
He gave the flight attendant the knife and then stood up and started yelling at everyone as he was blocking the aisle. Security was called and he was escorted off the plane. This is the only severe incident that I’ve ever seen in the 20+ times I’ve flown.
67. Blame Your Friends
I’m a ticket agent and, boy, the stories I could tell. One thing people definitely should know is that a surprising amount of the delays that happen are due to passengers. Yep, passengers. That one guy who throws a fit because he can’t take four ounces of liquid through TSA and decided the gate agent was a great target to take out their wrath on caused your delay.
So did that family that decided it was a great idea to bring three strollers and two car seats for their single child. That sweet old Grandma who insists she doesn’t need help getting onto the plane, but can’t walk faster than one step every minute? Gotta wait for her. And that last delay you had that the agent told you was due to maintenance?
Was thanks to some guy trying to hijack the smoke alarm on the plane. There are lots of delays for other reasons—weather being a big one. And don’t even say that there’s no weather where you are. There isn’t, but that doesn’t mean there’s not weather somewhere else! You’d be amazed at how many are caused by the people around you while you’re trying to board the plane.
This is also part of why gate agents are so strict about cutting off loading times. Airline employees love to help when they can, but there are times when we kind of wish we could turn to the nearest wall and whack our heads against it a few times just to improve the situation. So in that way, we’re really just like you.
68. He Wanted a Challenge
Once, after they served breakfast, I watched the guy sitting next to me eat his yogurt with chopsticks.
I was “the bad” passenger on my flight and didn’t realize it. I was really sick, but it was with asthmatic bronchitis, nothing contagious. But if you heard me, I sounded like I was going to cough my guts out onto the floor. I do recall the flight attendant asking me once or twice if I needed anything. But, overall, I was really out of it because I had been coughing so much that I had barely slept in days.
Afterward, my brother told me that everyone on the plane had been staring at me. I felt bad because they probably thought I was contagious and if I had known they were staring I would have told them they didn’t have anything to worry about.
70. Upgrades Solve Everything
The plane depressurized as we were climbing. Masks went down, eardrums were damaged from the pressure change and from people’s screams, and I nearly lost my lunch as the plane dropped to get to a breathable atmosphere. On the plus side, I got upgraded to first class on the rescheduled flight the next morning.
71. Keep a Cool Head
So, first off I’m not very fond of traveling but my friend was going so I really had no choice in the matter. Anyway, the day starts out with the normal airport panic and running to catch our flight. When we get there, it’s a full plane and we are crammed into the plane like sardines in a can. Now there must have been something wrong with the AC, because it was hot.
Imagine sitting in a leather-covered sauna wearing a fur coat. It was something like that. My friend strokes my hair and reassures me and then we take off, suffering silently with the heat getting worse. 20 minutes of boiling Hades later, my vision is starting to blur, my tongue is hanging out of my mouth, and I’m panting up a storm, feeling dizzy.
My friend tries a few things to cool me off, but that just causes a commotion and leads to having the whole plane staring at me. NOT the best thing for you, if you are already in distress. You probably won’t believe this but I kid you not, maybe it was the heat, maybe too many drinks, but my best and trusted friend FLIPS OUT and tries to STUFF MY WHOLE HEAD into the airplane vent overhead!!!
Well, I’m ashamed to say I just lost it. Wouldn’t you?! I was clawing at everything just trying to get away. I tried climbing into the seat in front, jumping around and begging for help, you name it. Five minutes into my panic attack I felt this pain in my chest and I pass out. The next thing I know I’m looking down at this chaos from above.
My friend is sitting there weeping and sobbing cradling my head. Crazy right? To top it off, some jerk a few rows back thinks this is the funniest thing in the world and takes a picture.
72. Quite the Boo Boo…
My mom’s coworker mixed up a guy’s laptop and gun cases once, and he only discovered this when he went to do some computer work on the plane. Stuff happens, things get missed. TSA is not mistake-proof. But needless to say, the passenger who pulled out a gun on the plane was not exactly popular with the flight staff…
73. Flight Rewind
I was flying Calgary to Houston, which is about a four-hour direct flight. We were just about two hours into the flight, or coincidentally JUST about to Denver, when the pilot announced we would have to turn around back to Calgary! So back we go and land in about an hour and fifteen minutes—he really cranked on it.
We touch down and taxi over to the mechanics. They open the cargo door, and shut it again. And in 15 more minutes, we were fuelled up and in the air on our way to Houston. This time it was about a 3-hour flight, full thrust the whole way. Luckily, there was an industry guy behind me, and I overheard him speculating the reason.
His idea was that since the airline had paid mechanics in Calgary, and probably not in Denver, it would be cheaper for them to turn around and go all the way to Calgary, than to pay all the costs associated with landing in Denver. Luckily it was just a little glitch, and not a true problem, but it was anyone’s guess as to the true issue.
I have a friend that is very familiar with the inner workings of the plane, and he said that anytime they open the cargo door, and unplug a certain cable during maintenance, some switch has to be flipped, to reset that alarm system for that door. He said it’s an extremely common mistake for that switch not getting flipped after work has been done, and it results in false alarms! All that cost—likely in the tens of thousands, because one guy forgot to flip a switch!
74. At Least They Tried to Right Their Wrongs
Former flight attendant. Grossest story I have is the time someone smeared poop all over one of the bathrooms during a 14 hour flight to China. It smelled putrid. We put up an out of order sign, but then a couple hours later someone had gone in and cleaned it up! We figured it was a kid and one of the parents had snuck in after.
75. That Flamingo Deserves Better
My uncle works as a TSA agent—I think agent is the right word—at JFK and one time a guy tried to smuggle a flamingo in a suitcase. He stuffed pillows and stuff into the suitcase with the flamingo so if it moved around there would be little-to-no noise, and I guess he thought he could block it from the x-ray stuff by covering it with pillows—so obviously he has no idea how x-rays work.
Anyways, he was arrested, obviously. Also, and this is slightly off topic but still related, but one time my grandmother was leaving to go back to Guyana after visiting us in NY for a month. When she comes here, we usually give her a ton of old clothes/shoes for her to give to poor families in Guyana because they obviously need it more than we do.
On top of that, she buys a bunch of stuff that she can’t find in Guyana here in the US and then brings it back with her. Needless to say, she has very full suitcases and one time she couldn’t fit all of her stuff. She had a small box of knives that she was going to bring as part of a table set or something. They weren’t really sharp, just the mildly sharp kind you’d get at a TGI Friday’s or Red Lobster, but she opted to just keep them in her large purse without saying anything.
My mom was helping her pack and got quite the shock to find that my grandmother planned on keeping knives in her purse while flying.
76. Taking Trolling to a New Level
Not me but my mom. She told me about this one time that she had to do the safety demonstration, like how to fasten your seatbelts, where your nearest exit is, etc. This one woman, sitting somewhere to the left of my mom, started taking off all her clothes, while making eye contact with my mom the whole time, and just sat there naked for the duration of it.
Then when the safety demonstration was over, she put back on her clothes and gave my mom the most smug smile ever.
77. Never Too Old to Need a Burping
Sitting across from a young mom who had an infant and a 2-year-old. She had her hands full with the 2-year-old, so I offered to hold her baby. I’m a dad, I’ve fed and let sleep babies. She agreed and I held the baby, fed her a bottle, was patting her on the back to soothe her, and let her fall asleep. She did fall asleep, but not before projectile vomiting in my face and down my shirt. On the bright side, I’m pretty sure I earned Karma that day.
78. Mortality Transcends Time Zones
Was flying back to the states from Japan. The flight in itself was already a really long one. My family and I were seated at the very back of the plane, couldn’t get any more back than that as far as seats went. Anyways, halfway through the 9-10 hour flight, a couple rows ahead of us we just hear this poor woman frantically screaming in another language.
I believe it was Mandarin or something along those lines. I looked up and saw her constantly screaming something, it must have been a name or a cry for help. I believe it was her husband, he was unconscious and wasn’t responding. The flight attendants came by, and they even managed to find a doctor who was on the plane.
They dragged his body toward the back of the plane and found he didn’t even have a pulse, and were applying CPR to him literally right next to my sister, who was sitting on the other side right of me. They constantly tried, but nothing worked. He died from heart failure, and according to the people with the gentleman, he had many health issues.
After they stopped, the flight attendants asked my family and I if we could move seats. They had to wrap the body up in blankets and move him somewhere until we landed. They planned on putting him in one of the bathrooms and sealing it off for the remainder of the flight, but their regulations didn’t seem to allow that.
So instead, we moved and took the seats of the family of the deceased. They ended up buckling him into my seat, and I ended up sitting where he sat. So, for the remainder of the flight, there I was sitting in the seat of a man who had just passed away. this all while his body was buckled into the seat I was previously in.
It was a really strange feeling; it wasn’t comforting at all. Because of our positioning, turning the plane around wouldn’t have mattered. We were hours from any land that could offer medical help. That was another thing, too: It’s frightening to be in a situation where no potent help will come. I hope the family found some peace.
79. Welcome to the Real World, Baby
When I was an infant, I was sitting on my father’s lap when the flight attendant leaned over him to give coffee to the person sitting next to him. Her hand slipped, and the boiling coffee spilled on my bare chest (father was changing my shirt) and burned my entire chest. Had a massive scar for a year or two after, and apparently, she broke down crying during the flight.
80. Cracker Ammunition
It was many, many years ago. I was probably in my early 20s and had the aisle seat. There was this cute woman who was about my age with a child, whom I would guess was about 3 years old. This was many years before the current level of security and paranoia on airplanes. The kid is in the center seat and a bit jumpy and fidgety.
No big deal. About an hour into the flight, the mother gives her kid a bag of animal crackers. When I say a bag, I do not mean a bag pulled out of a box of animal crackers or a bag you might buy rom the cookie aisle of a grocery store. No, this mom gave the kid a bag that looked like it came from a warehouse club.
The bag was almost as big as the kid and probably had 3 to 5 pounds of cookies in it. I continue minding my own business, thinking the kid will eat them and settle down. No, instead, the kid starts chucking them at people on the plane. He didn’t throw them at anyone specifically but was rather tossing them a few aisles in front of us, beside us, behind us.
The entire time, the mother is sitting there smiling like their kid is the cutest thing ever. Well, it isn’t long before people get pissed and call in the flight attendants. The flight attendants have words with the mother, telling her it isn’t allowed. Of course, the mother has this hurt look in her eyes like she can’t believe no one else found this adorable, and said that she will get the kid to stop.
Well, she doesn’t tell the kid to stop and the kid doesn’t stop. A few times, the kid turns and hits me in the head point blank. I ask the kid to please not do that. The flight attendants come a few more times and more words are spoken and still, nothing is done. Well, not that I would advocate this, but about the third or fourth time the kid hits me in the side of the head with an animal cracker, I grabbed the remainder of the bag, fold it over to close it, and put it underneath the seat in front of me.
I put my feet in front of it so no one could get them. I was beyond pissed at that point. Well, the mom gets pissed at me and tells me I can’t do that. I simply reply that I did it. Some words are exchanged between her and I. I don’t recall what, but I wasn’t trying to be mean. The flight attendants get involved yet again with both of us, and suggest to the mother that putting the animal crackers away is a wonderful idea, didn’t we both agree?
I gave back the package of crackers and by this point, people are voicing their approval around us. I got a few free drinks after that. I was young and didn’t handle it in the best way, but something had to be done.
81. Sounds Like Someone Still Needs to Be Potty Trained
My friend is dating a flight attendant. She told us that this one really fat guy took a dump in a vomit bag so he didn’t have to wobble down to the bathroom. They couldn’t find what was causing the horrific smell and considered landing the plane but the pilot noted they were only about 30-45 minutes from their destination and landing, unboarding and all would take longer.
They found the bag after everyone got up and left. There was some splatter on the seat, floor, and wall too. They had to use a different plane and hazmat this one.
82. Rip Van Winkle He Is Not
I had boarded a plane in Florida, exhausted after working 16-hour days filming for the past month and was ready to get home. I fell asleep and woke up 2 and a half hours later, excited that I had slept through the entire flight. Then I realized we were still sitting in the runway in Florida.
83. Alcoholism Is a Gas
So, a few years ago I was on a plane with my mom and grandma. Also, I need to say that my grandma was a raging alcoholic and was usually drunk or hung over, and today she was drunk, and continuing to drink on the plane. For some reason, today my body decides to produce the worst smelling farts in my entire life.
Still haven’t had gas that bad as I did that day. It hurts to hold them in, so I’m being all passive aggressive and letting them out slow and silent. Of course, my grandma is smelling them and freaking out throwing a little hissy fit. I’m young and think it’s funny, so I continue. She somehow gets the idea that it’s the guy in front of her letting these smelly demons loose, and starts to kick his seat violently and yell at him repeatedly.
I’m sitting there thinking, “that escalated quickly.” The whole time this is happening, my mom was sitting there asleep, and she wakes up to horrible breath and her drunk mother yelling. Finally, out of nowhere my grandma just barfs all over my mom. If you’ve never seen what partially digested wine and waffle house looks like, I envy you.
Whole plane smells like barf and farts, and we’ve still got about another hour of flight left. Really uncomfortable, to say the least. Finally, when we land and get in the car, I decide I have to tell them, and by then I think they realized it was me all along. I admit to my crime, and my grandma gives me the most intense stare down of my life, and just says, “You little jerk.”
Later on, my mom tells me that it was pretty funny overall. Still hear about that to this day.
84. Hot Button Issue
This was kinda insane, kinda just annoying, but the “call” button above the seat behind me shorted out with 1.5 hours left in a flight. Ding, ding, ding, ding… for about an hour and a half. It was very, very annoying.
85. Last Minute Change in the Lineup
I dated a flight attendant for a while. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that sometimes delays are caused by flight attendants not showing up and the airline scrambling to get a backup scheduled. Like a flight attendant was partying too hard last night and decided to call off two hours before that $1,500 cross-ocean flight you just got to the airport for.
She loved to party, as did a lot of her coworkers, and was often hungover or “out of it” on flights. Even though the pay was lousy, their union made it very hard for them to get fired, so call-offs were kind of no-big-deal.
86. Face First Into Regret
I have been waiting years to tell this story. I was 17 and flying from Seattle to Houston, having been out there to look around a college and hang out in the city. I have a lot of anxiety about flying, but I managed the first flight out there ok with the help of some valium my mom gave me. The point where things go wrong was when I decided see what it would be like if I had an extra pill, seeing as though I had a left over pill from the first flight.
Long story short, I woke up in the lap of an old man sat next to me once we landed in Houston by him stroking my hair and whispering “wake up, we’re here” delicately into my upturned ear. I left a little dribble on his crotch, which he insisted was not a big deal. Was absolutely mortified and was still slurring when my parents picked me up at baggage.
87. Eight-Legged Mishap
I saw a spider up above me on a long flight, which I thought was weird. I rolled up a magazine from in front of me, then wound up to hit it, and accidentally smoked this old lady in front of me. She went nuts and started screaming. No one believed me that there was a spider.
88. Guns Are Scary
Many years ago on the way to the UK, we had a brief stopover in Dubai. I was around 9 years old, first time flying, and really suffering air sickness. We debark the plane and the heat hits me hard. I stumble from the steps to the tarmac and proceed to vomit foamy water…inches away from the toes of a security guy armed with a machine gun.
I was scared witless and couldn’t move. My family apologized profusely and dragged me onto a waiting bus. Granted, this fellow didn’t change expression or even move from my sad puddle, but darn, we were green travellers and had never seen guns before, let alone potentially pissed off a gun owner. I still cringe when I remember the look in his eyes and my mother’s face.
89. I’m Glad You’re Not Telling Me This During the Flight…
I used to work with elderly people and one of my clients was a former pilot that finally quit when he realized in the middle of a flight that his dementia had progressed and he couldn’t remember where he was supposed to be flying to. Meaning he had been flying for a commercial airline with dementia for quite sometime before that.
90. Pop Goes the “Me”-sel
I had a sinus infection when I boarded the plane. About halfway through the flight, I felt a pop inside my face… and then the pain started. You know that pain, that spreads into your teeth? I was doubled over in pain for the next hour. Somehow, I got up and stumbled off the plane after we landed. I blew my nose, and blackened, bloody mucus came out.
For hours afterward. It cleared up, the pain subsided, and I didn’t think anything more of it. Take some antihistamines before flying.
91. Treated Like a Piece of Jenga
When I was 14 years old, I took a school trip from Shanghai to Egypt via Qatar. All my classmates and teachers were scattered all over the plane, and so most of us ended up sitting next to strangers. I ended up next to Arab men, probably in their 40s or 50s, wearing traditional clothing. I was kinda a big-mouthed girl, and, having no understanding of Arab culture, I started to try and talk to them.
Neither of them were really talking back to me. Well, it was a 12-hour flight, so I tried to sleep right away and knock out as much of the time as I could. The only weird thing is, I went to sleep in the aisle seat and woke up in the window seat. Somehow these two dudes moved a 14-year-old girl in her sleep without her waking up and without anyone else on the flight thinking it was weird.
I woke up extremely confused and uncomfortable for the remainder of the flight. I remember at one point I asked the guy on the outside to let me out and to give me my seat back, and he said no.
92. I Guess She Was Okay With It
On the way to Japan, I look across the aisle and see an elderly man, sitting with an elderly woman I assume to be his wife. He reaches into his bag and brings out a large stash of dirty magazines. He then proceeds to sit and look at them for many hours of the flight.
93. You Can’t Hide From the Truth
I’m not cabin crew, but I used to work as an aircraft mechanic a couple of years ago. I was doing some work for my friend’s handling company at the local airport servicing the private jets that came through. There was this one guy who’d fly through twice a week, 1x Monday and 1x Friday. Typical business guy and never said much.
The aircraft had just come back from a lengthy flight and the toilets needed servicing as it had been a few days since it’d been done on the log book. An item had become stuck in the pipes, normally what I’d do would be to pressurize the system on the ground with the ramp guys and just flush it, but this guy didn’t want us to do that for some reason.
He was being really sketchy and telling us to “just leave it” as his “guys” we’re gonna sort it out. So naturally I thought, screw you, I’m the engineer here and I’m gonna do it my way. So with the gentle persuasion of a giant hoover, the blockage came out into the truck. We fished it out the other end, and it was at least 10 condoms.
Instead of this guy putting them in the bin, he’d been flushing them down the toilet, so they were just getting more and more clogged to the point where the system wouldn’t pressurize and it was unusable. I mean, it’s none of my business what he does on his plane but he complained about me, said I’d put them there, and called me everything under the sun. If you don’t wanna feel embarrassed then don’t do it.
94. Stick in the Middle With You
An overnight flight—checked in online with an aisle seat, but didn’t realize it printed as a middle seat until too late. Had a guy next to me trying to get comfy all night by putting his butt on my arm. That’s until everyone woke up because, while passing out customs forms, the flight attendants realized a gentleman had died in his sleep some time in the last 5 hours.
95. You’re So Magnetic
Believe it or not, someone once tried to bring a high powered magnet on the flight. Yes, a magnet. This thing was so powerful that, while still in the bag, was ripping off the rollers on our conveyor and literally took 3 adult men to get off. If you put this thing around 1.5 feet from a metal object and weren’t holding it properly it would fly out of your hand.
This idiot who was working that day had braces and if I didn’t stop him he probably would’ve ripped out all his teeth. Just so strange and random. We didn’t let him take it with him.
96. You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get
There was this one passenger who didn’t have his belt over his blanket when the fasten seatbelt sign was lit. He looked asleep and didn’t respond to crew when they tried to wake him. So they decided to move the blanket in order to check. Turns out he was pleasuring himself. Just lovely for everyone involved who wasn’t him.
97. Your Own Worst Enemy
I had an early morning flight from Bangkok to London, and decided the best thing to do would be to have drinks with my friends who were flying back a day after me. I got extremely squatters, then went to the airport. I was very late for my flight and had to be rushed through security, etc. Having not slept all night, I passed out as the plane was taxiing to the runway.
10 hours later, I woke up and was overjoyed when I realized there was only an hour or so of my flight left. This turned into mortification when I looked at the poor old Thai woman I had been sleeping on. I smelled atrocious, a mixture of sweat and booze and weeks of travelling. I felt so sorry for this woman.
She looked at me as if I was the devil incarnate, having fulfilled all the stereotypes of British people on gap years. The next hour was the most uncomfortable of my life, made worse by the fact I was dying for a leak but was too embarrassed to ask her to move so I could get up. I slept and sweated on a poor Thai woman for 10 hours, then had to endure her evil death stares.
I regret nothing. When I woke up, I discovered my TV wasn’t working, so I’m glad I slept through the flight.
98. Lost in Translation
I was on a flight from Manila to Singapore, sitting next to a teenage boy who clearly had never flown before. He didn’t know how to work the seats, had trouble with the overhead lights, and couldn’t fill out the immigration forms. He also did not speak English. I was trying to help him out as best I could, mostly motioning with my hands, as we didn’t speak the same language.
When we were descending, the pressure change was really bothering him. He had taken his pillow and the one from the empty seat between us and was jamming them against his ears trying to alleviate the pressure. I had gum with me, so I try to hand him a piece. He doesn’t take it, so I say, “Have some gum, it will help with your ears,” while pointing to my ears.
He takes the foil-wrapped piece of gum, and proceeds to stick it directly in his ear.
99. Who’s the Bigger Man?
I used to fight MMA for an organization called Caribbean Ultimate Fist Fighting. On one trip to Trinidad, I was forced to sit next to my opponent. Not a problem, we are professionals and got along just fine. The issue is I am 6’5″ and 250 lbs, while he is 6’5″ and 270 lbs. We had to take turns sitting up straight while the other leaned away.
100. Oh, That Gun
A story my old high school debate coach told me: Probably about 10 years ago now, another high school’s debate team was going to some national level tournament. When boarding the flight home after the tournament, security pulled aside the debate coach after finding a loaded gun in her suitcase.
This, of course, left her very confused as she had not brought a gun to the debate tournament. Upon seeing it, she identifies it as her husband’s gun. She had no idea it was there. The crazy part of the story wasn’t that a gun was found in the bag. It’s the fact that the gun was found on the return flight. Which means on the initial flight out of DFW airport, she walked right through security with a loaded gun in possession and nothing happened to her.
101. Darn Those Pencil-Pushers
My cousin was a pilot for one of the feeder airlines. One night, he was descending into Pittsburgh during an ice storm when there was a bright flash and an explosion right in front of the cockpit. He and his co-pilot can’t see, can’t hear. Blind, they increase power and start to climb out. They hope it was the right decision.
After 10-20 seconds, their hearing and vision start coming back. They see: the flight instruments spinning randomly. Calmly, they start going through the checklist and reboot the plane. Ten minutes later, they make an uneventful landing. Ground inspection reveals a hole the diameter of a pencil in the nose of the plane about a foot in front of the windscreen, and another smaller mark on one of the prop blades.
102. Shoulder to Crash on?
On a flight to Rome from Atlanta. Stuck in the middle of an elderly woman and an Italian guy. It was a later flight, so about two hours in they both fall asleep. Their heads end up rolling onto my shoulders. I am a quiet and probably overly polite person. So, I just sat there awkwardly waiting for them to wake up because no one can sleep for that long on a flight, right?
I have shoulders like the clouds of heaven.
103. She Wanted a Cool Cat
I travel quite a bit and have seen a few weird things, but on a recent trip from Vienna to Venice things were taken to a whole new level. We were about 20 minutes into the flight when I noticed that a woman sitting across from me had a Persian cat in one of those cat carrier bags. The plane was really warm and the cat was sitting in the bag panting.
Well, the lady decided to let the cat out of the bag to let it cool off a bit. After trying to shove the cat’s face up into the air vents for a minute, the cat literally freaked out. It was clawing at everything, attaching itself to the seats in front, jumping around, hissing, you name it. The thing went nuts! Anyway, after about five minutes of more of the same, the cat completely lost it, tried to climb the seat in front and—wait for it—fell over dead!
We couldn’t believe what had just happened. The owner was trying to shake the cat around a bit to wake it up, but it was a goner. For the duration of the flight, she just sat there holding her dead cat, and sobbing quite profusely. It was honestly really hard to watch.
104. Seriously Though, What’s the Story?
A guy once passed through with two suitcases filled with egg cartons. EMPTY egg cartons. That was it. After some questioning we let him go; he refused to answer a single question and only kept asking “Is this illegal? Why am I not free to go?”I lie awake at night wondering what his story was…where are you now, egg carton man?
105. Flight Is the Best Education You Can Have
This was a school trip, so we had close to 30 teenagers present. We were heading to DC from the west coast, with a layover in Chicago. Because of the large class size, we had to arrive at the airport around 5 AM so we could get through security. We made it to the gate area by 6 AM, and our flight was boarding at 7:30.
However, they pushed the flight forward 30 minutes…then 30 more minutes…then an hour…then another hour, until four hours had passed. Because they kept changing the time, we had to stay in the gate area in case of a sudden announcement. My teacher spent almost $200 that day just to buy us lunch because we were planning to have an airline meal.
We finally took off around 12:30 PM. When we land in Chicago, it’s 5:30 PM with time zones adjusted. We’re a hoard of zombies by this point, since we had almost no sleep the night before due to excitement. We’ve missed our original connection by hours, and any other flights to DC that day are full, so we’re booked onto a flight to Baltimore instead—which also gets delayed an hour.
Once again, my teacher saves the day by buying us pizza for dinner. My teacher is the type who buys gourmet pizza at a time like this, so she spent even more of her money like that. We take off at 8:30 PM from Chicago. Everyone wants to sleep, but my teacher won’t allow it because if we sleep, we’ll be even more tired once we’re woken up.
With time zones adjusted, it’s 11:30 PM when landing in Baltimore. Guess what—because of all the delays and airport switching, our luggage is lost. But the airline just tells us to keep waiting at the baggage claim—until it’s almost 1 AM. Don’t forget, this is a group of 30 sweaty teenagers who can’t change their clothes.
So, after a 40-minute bus drive to DC—still no dosing off allowed—we locate our luggage and get it. It’s almost 2:30 AM when we finally got sent to bed—and we have to wake up in 6 more hours for the first day exploring DC. In all seriousness though, that was easily the most fun day of the trip. While stranded at the first airport, my teacher talked to a lady at the gate, who was a professional artist.
After chatting a bit, my teacher arranged for my artist friend to show the lady some of her drawings, and she got some help on how to improve. My teacher also organized a drawing contest with a few students, while another group used a blank notebook to create a full role play game that lasted all 4 hours. One student who brought a book was reading out loud to not just our classmates, but to some of the other passengers as well.
While waiting at the Chicago airport, one talented boy pulled out a Rubik’s cube and showed his skills for the entire gate area. It sounds horrible to explain, but I think it was actually my best experience on an airplane.
106. We’re Going Brown
I had a colostomy bag for about 6 months to let my colon heal after an accident where it was perforated (I fell and was impaled on a barbed wire fencepost). On a plane coming off painkillers, so I had really bad diarrhea. It turns out my colostomy bag is not attached correctly, so the hole in my gut is not lined up with the hole in the bag.
I’m dozing off when I feel warmth and smell this horrible smell of fresh poop—my colostomy bag leaked copious amounts of liquid poop all over the front of me. Stunk up the cabin badly—had to go into the bathroom and try to get stuff off of my dress shirt and slacks. Stayed in as long as I could—came out soaking wet and about as embarrassed as I’ve ever been.
107. Getting Hot in the Cockpit
Dad retired with 36,000 hours, closest disaster was almost a cockpit fire. So I got the short story from him: He was supposed to fly from Orlando to Boston, but as he was taking off, he noticed that there was a lot of super hot air pouring into the cockpit. What had happened is instead of wiring the engine valve shut like the mechanics were supposed to, they wired the valve wide open.
As I understand it, the engine valve usually automatically regulates the amount of hot air that the engine bleeds into the cockpit. However, the wiring they did made it so the maximum amount of hot air was coming in continuously from the engine. He made an emergency landing in Jacksonville, and by the time they landed, they couldn’t touch the controls and they were using clothing as oven mitts.
He said he and his co-pilot were also completely drenched in sweat.
108. With Flight Buddies Like These, Who Needs Enemies?
On a flight to Philadelphia this past summer, the airline employees had asked people with the larger carry-on bags to please check them at the door, as there wasn’t much room on the plane. The bro in line in front of me had a huge bag, but kept telling the airline people “Nah, it’ll be fine, it’ll fit. Come on, don’t worry about it, it’ll be fine. Blah blah blah,” until finally the employee got sick of it and just let him through with the bag.
Inside the plane, we go down the aisle a ways and suddenly, still several rows in front of my row, he throws his bag down into an empty set of seats, then enters the row himself until he’s almost completely out of the way of the aisle, and starts digging through his bag. His butt is still sticking out into the aisle slightly, and I don’t want to brush it as I walk by, so I wait for him to realize he was still accidentally blocking the aisle.
After about 30 seconds, the people behind me are grumbling, so I ask the guy very politely, not mad at all, “Excuse me, mind if I just slip by?” I assumed he just didn’t realize he was still blocking he aisle. Suddenly he switches on to full “bro mode,” wheels to me, gets in my face, and says very aggressively and loudly, “You even flown on a freaking plane before? You gotta wait until I put my bag up.”
I’m not a confrontational guy at all, so I’m shocked and try to explain quickly before I can even really think about what I’m saying: “Sorry man, but your butt was the only thing in the way and I sure didn’t want to touch it.” Not very graceful or articulate, but I was in shock from the sudden aggression. He did not like it.
He pretty much yells in my face, spittle flying, “I don’t appreciate your language,” (uh, what, the word “butt”?) “Do you wanna turn this into something!?” He assumed an aggressive stance, arm cocked back slightly. I honestly can’t even remember what I did or said next, but whatever it was, it was enough to make him give up on the attempted bro-down, turn back to his bag, and heave it up into an overhead bin.
He then goes back out into the aisle and goes down a few more rows… to my row…and sits in the seat next to my ticketed seat. Yep, we were seat buddies for the whole darn flight. When he saw I was coming to sit down next to him, he looked like he wanted to punch me. It was a very uncomfortable flight for the both of us, I’m sure.
109. Accidental Hero
On a redeye flight, just as I fell asleep, a woman passed out in the middle of the aisle and hit my leg. I was so doped up on Dramamine, I didn’t even realize it and fell back asleep. The flight attendants put an oxygen tank on the floor, and put the tank’s mask over her mouth. Apparently, they used my hand to hold it in place.
When I woke up a few minutes later, I was like, “Why am I holding an oxygen mask over someone’s face?”
110. Nasty People
Two passengers took their elderly father/father-in-law who had dementia or alzheimer’s to Asheville, NC from Charlotte, dropped him off in the terminal, and got back on the plane without him.
111. MIA: Missing in the Air
Not a pilot—but I was an air traffic controller. I have a million screwed-up pilot stories, though. One somewhat amusing story (yet also very sad) was a pilot who flew in on “emergency fuel” in his MiG he flew around to air shows. He was erratic and didn’t listen to instructions well, but landed safely. He left my airport a few days later, then went down in the mountains and was never found.
The finding was: Likely low fuel due to scraping his fuel tanks at an air show prior to arriving at my airport. He never even had it looked at while he was at my airport. He was aware he had scraped his fuel tanks, he came into my airport using emergency fuel, yet he pressed on after that, to his death. The truth is, pilots are just people. They’re flawed like the rest of us.
112. Now That’s a Disney Ending
I have my own vomit story to tell. I live in Orlando, so Disney central. Flights to/from Orlando are always full of kids going to/coming from Disney. Well, I was flying to Montana when the little girl across the aisle from me decides it’s time to vomit all over the aisle. This did involve vomiting all over her clothes as well.
It turned out that all of her extra clothes were in the storage under the plane. It was in this moment that I saw the most adorable and selfless thing any 6-year-old has ever done. This girl dressed as Belle sitting two rows in front of us walks back and hands the other girl’s mother a clean princess dress, not yet unpackaged from Disney.
The family thanks her and asks her parents for their address to have it cleaned and sent back. The family lets the girl who vomited keep the dress, and Belle instantly became the most adorable girl on the plane. Hope for future generations increased by 1000. I was sitting there, honestly trying not to weep in my seat.
113. No One Should Sit Easily Upon the Iron Throne
When myself and my brother were young, my family went to Cancun. We had puzzles and things with little magnetic pieces so they wouldn’t fly all over the plane, but my brother dropped one under the seat in front of him. He naturally went to grab it, but somehow got his head stuck under the seat. I mean, he was really stuck in there.
So, the flight attendant cleared all the seats ahead and behind us and tried pushing and pulling my four-year-old brother out of his metal prison. Eventually, after many tears, he was freed. After the flight, my dad was on the shuttle bus to get our car, and he overheard hypotheses of what had happened. “It was probably a heart attack,” said one lady. “No, I heard it was a bomb threat,” proclaimed her husband.
114. For Your Information
I’m a flight attendant…So many incidents occur on the plane that everyday passengers don’t see or consider. My last flight an elderly man accidentally pooped on the floor, stepped in it, and walked on like it was nothing. DO NOT WALK AROUND BAREFOOT. Pee and poop happen, all over. I feel like I witness an “accident” regularly; in their seat or in the lav.
People get nosebleeds, or their wounds open. Obviously, when we land, it is thoroughly cleaned. But inflight our resources are limited. DON’T CHANGE YOUR BABY’S DIAPER ON THE TRAY TABLE. This also happens all the time. It’s unsanitary and people use the tray table to eat, put their personal things on, do normal things with it, etc.
Lastly, it is NOT the responsibility of a flight attendant to lift your bag. There are multiple injuries caused because flight attendants lift heavy bags to be friendly, and then they’re out and off the job for months to a year (on average). If you pack it, you lift it. If it’s too heavy for you, it’s too heavy for us. Please be respectful of our time.
115. Not Going Down Without a Fight
One passenger asked an FA for root beer and a sandwich on a 45 minute commuter flight. We don’t serve those on the short hops, and so he told the fellow that and offered him the menu card. The passenger insisted the FA was lying to him and told him he wanted a sandwich and a root beer. Our FA said he’d come back and check with him after helping the row behind him.
Passenger still insisted on the sandwich and threatened to sue the airline if he didn’t get one. The FA repeated that we don’t serve sandwiches and he eventually just gave up and glowered the rest of the flight.
116. Angels in the Heavens
When I was really ill in October 2017, my father also became even more ill than I was in another country. There was nobody else around for him who actually gave a damn, so I had to fly over there to see and support him. I planned to bring him home with me after he had recovered from his surgery. I had just been through a lot of trauma, and I was in no physical or emotional state to be getting on a plane—but there was literally no other option.
The flight was only around two hours long, but even that was way too much for someone as weak and frail as I was at that time. When I was waiting in line to board the plane, I could immediately feel myself getting dizzy and panicky—but that got a lot worse when I got onto the plane and when it started to take off. I started having a full blown panic attack, hyperventilating and crying in my seat.
I was sitting at the window, and there was a rather large man sitting in the middle with his daughter on the outer seat. The man noticed me crying, and he and his daughter switched seats. She took my hand and said something along the lines of “You’re okay, we’re here. There’s no need to hold this anxiety back, we’re not going to judge you, just let it happen and everything will be alright.”
She just hugged me and told me she’s so sorry while I hysterically cried. Once we landed, she and her father drove me in their car directly to the door of the hospital my dad was admitted to (over an hour away). They even offered to book me a hotel for a night or two, but thankfully I already had my accommodations sorted out. I do not know what I would have done without those people that day. We have each other on Facebook now, and she still occasionally checks in with me to this day.
117. Everyone’s Worst Nightmare
We were flying from San Francisco to Cincinnati. In the middle of the flight, the pilot requests for everyone to fasten their belts because they are expecting a bumpy ride. Apparently, there was a weather disturbance that had been reported. Just prior, he had casually announced that we were at 40,000 feet, due for the expected time, and so on.
After the announcement, we hear tons of these sort-of popping sounds, and we’re all like WTF is going on? It got really bumpy… and it turns out, it was giant hailstorm hitting the plane. Then it got really bumpy. The pilot again announces more sternly for all crew to take their seats and for no one to get up. Now it was getting really really bumpy.
Then, it happened. We fell right out of the sky. There is no other way to describe it. It was like you were just sitting in a chair suspended from a rope at the top of a cherry picker and someone cut the rope. We dropped like crazy, and then WHAM. It was like the plane landed in an enormous vat of cream filling.
I don’t know how else to describe it—it was like, kind of soft, but still a big jolt. The jolt impacted on one wing more than the other, so the plane went askance and all sorts of luggage went flying out of the overhead compartments on the right side. They flew over to the left side, smacking a bunch of people in the head.
Some people who were not completely or at all buckled up—not the smartest folks—flew up and hit the ceiling, then fell back into their seats. There was screaming everywhere. Absolute chaos. Then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, the pilot screams over the intercom, “Denver, we’re in serious trouble up here, I need…” and then a few other words we could not understand.
He freaked everyone out even more. He had forgotten to turn off the cabin speakers from the earlier announcement. It was super rough for a few moments, and then we drop like crazy again. The same thing as before, but a much harder landing. I mean, we dropped for what seemed like minutes but was probably only 10-15 seconds.
Wham! A much harder landing. More stuff went flying everywhere, more people were crying, praying, and screaming. It was nuts! We cruised through that, and it became smooth again. The pilot later announced he was sorry about the “mistaken” overhead announcement, and kind of downplayed that we were ever in any real danger.
He also said the current altitude was something like 18,000 feet. Whatever the exact numbers were, we had dropped about 10,000 feet, or 2 miles. It was the worst of the 500,000+ air miles I spent. You never heard so many people clapping upon landing.
118. Consider It a Bonus
Baggage handler here. I once was sorting out luggage until I found a rather peculiar bag. It was tied up with rope, very loosely closed and just didn’t fit the normal luggage look. I read the tag to where it’s going, and it was headed for Colombia (which I handle), so I go ahead and grab it to throw into the bag cart.
As the bag hit the cart, the piece of rope holding it all together tore apart and its contents fell out. Lo and behold, lots of illegal substances. Now this was in 2000, so I don’t remember any type of high security. So I picked up the stuff and popped it back in the makeshift bag. As I was placing them in, I then found a stash of hundred dollar bills.
Not one or two, I’m talking wrapped in bands. Tons of money. So being the teenager I was, I pocketed it and had my own bag filled with nearly $25K. The next day, I bought a used car, paid my school off, and invested in an IRA for retirement. Thanks, stupid people!
119. Business Class or Nothing
I was waiting on a flight in Denver. A little old man gets on and is arguing with the flight attendants about how he’s in “business class” and he paid for “business class.” This is a two class flight, first and coach, the flight attendant tries to explain to him, but he’s having none of it. I figure he was probably connecting to an international flight that had three classes at the next airport but whatever.
He decides he’s going to sit in first class anyway. So he gets into the last row in first class, squeezes all the way over to the window seat, and refuses to budge. After a lot of arguing with the flight attendants, the cops get called in. Meanwhile, the HUGE man (probably 6’8’’ tall) whose seat he was sitting on had arrived and was just laughing at the whole situation.
The best part was when the cops arrived and the huge man had to tell the cops, “Hey, it’s not me.” The cops spend probably 20-30 minutes trying to talk the poor old guy into moving to his proper seat, but he’s not budging and becoming more and more incoherent. So finally the cops have got to do something: they put on their rubber gloves, grab the guy, drag him out of the seat, and put him on the floor to cuff him.
The old guy is screaming and crying like someone’s killing him. Finally, they get him off the plane. The cops came back in to get everyone’s contact info in case they needed them for a trial. The poor flight attendants had to clean the seats because the old guy had soiled himself when they were pulling him out of the seat.
120. The Heartbreak Kid
Mine is from many, many years ago when I was a student pilot. I was 14, I think, at the time. I had about 15ish hours done, and I was getting close to soloing for the first time but still had a few hours and more landings to practice. I was doing some basics and getting ready to come back with my instructor to practice some touch and gos for a bit.
Coming back through, we had to pass through DTW’s bravo airspace (which means we needed permission to go through it). A few minutes before I was about to call for permission, my instructor got really quiet. I looked over at him, and he looked really bad. I thought he was going to puke, so I started looking for a bag. But then I noticed he wasn’t breathing.
I figure out where I am at and call up DTW approach. Declare a medical emergency and that my instructor was not breathing. I also told them I am a student and have never landed on my own before, and never in a large airport. Detroit approach was amazing at helping me. They gave me an option for DTW or Willow, but Willow would have added a good 5-10 minutes.
Opted for DTW and they were great at giving me vectors while also getting the big jets out of the way. I remember hearing them tell several planes to go around and put several more into a hold. Anyway, I did my approach and made the most butter smooth landing I have ever made in my life (even till this day). Ambulance was right there on the taxi waiting for me.
Turns out, my instructor (who was only 25) had a heart attack. He ended up being ok. All in all, from first call to him in the ambulance was less than 10 minutes thanks to ATC and DTW tower.