It’s easy to take the miracle of flight for granted. That’s not to say that flying is perfect. From projectile vomit to co-passengers with bad boundaries, there are plenty of ways a plane trip can go wrong. These Redditors landed safely to unload their most disastrous stories about being on-board. Get ready for take-off with these high-flying stories about the worst airplane encounters.
1. 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 illicit 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!
2. That Doesn’t Sound Too Good…
About to land, typical message from the pilot talking about the weather, etc. Then at the end of the speech he exclaims, "NO DON'T TOUCH THA-" with a swift termination of the loudspeaker soon following.
3. No Cracking up in the Air
Sitting on a 10-hour flight next to someone who obviously was really messed up on something. Doesn't sound that scary, but I was a high schooler who had no experience at all with that kind of thing. Ended up being a pretty nice guy.
4. Sitting on a Mountain
I was sitting next to an adult with learning disabilities, and he pooped himself right before takeoff. It was a transatlantic flight. Next to a grown man sitting in a pile of his poop. Poor guy, but more pertinently, poor me.
5. At Least Someone’s Not out of Gas
My wife farted. It freaking stank so bad that I could hear people complain 3 rows back. She pretended to be asleep. An air hostess walked up to me and started blasting me with some flowery air purifier. I got the full blame for it.
6. The Most Final Destination
Guy that sat a few rows behind me passed on from 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 body 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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 passed on in his sleep some time in the last 5 hours.
11. Nobody Likes a Jerk
My friend was sitting next to someone on a plane, and the someone kept bumping his arm in a rhythmic fashion until my friend opened his eyes and looked to see what was up. Unfortunately, what was up was the dude's you-know-what, and he was working hard. My friend was pretty scarred after that. I would be too.
12. 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.
13. 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 horde 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.
14. 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.
15. Hit Rock-Bottom at High-Altitude
Last time I flew, the lady in front of me was trying to deal with substance withdrawals on a cross-country flight. She kept running back and forth to the bathroom, squirming around in her seat, and trying to get the flight attendants to bring her more booze. I think everyone in the general vicinity was trying to find somewhere else to sit, especially when they cut her off and she lost her mind at the flight attendant. I've never been so happy to get off of a plane.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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 glares.
I regret nothing. When I woke up, I discovered my TV wasn't working, so I'm glad I slept through the flight.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. Just Because It’s Naptime Doesn’t Mean It’s Kindergarten
On a 14-hour flight to Japan, two children decided they couldn't sit still any longer and started running laps around the cabin. This was during the time the lights were off and windows were closed so passengers could rest. They were also screaming. It lasted for near two hours. I was pretty close to committing a serious crime. I just stuck my foot in the aisle and hoped they would trip.
23. Alcoholism Is a Gas
Kind of the other way around here. 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 tipsy or hung over, and today she was tipsy, 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 drunken 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 offense, 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.
24. I Don’t Like Those Odds, Mister
I think I was about 7, as it was right after I'd started flying between parents for visiting. I was sitting next to this older kid when the plane started rumbling. I didn't exactly know what turbulence was, so I asked the kid. "Oh yeah, we're going down," he said. I was like...what. And he goes, "Yeah, I've done it a couple times, only a few die every time. So you have nothing to worry about".
Amazingly, I didn't start crying, but the jerk was actively trying to scare a 7-year-old girl travelling alone.
25. I Didn’t Pay for a Literary Critique
I was flying by myself and went to sit in my assigned seat. It was a row that only had two seats in it, so I only had to sit next to one other person. I ended up sitting next to this very talkative lady, who was maybe in her 40s. My first impression was that she was very well-dressed, and I assumed she was some type of business lady.
After a few moments of small talk, I find out that she is a nuclear physicist. Don't get me wrong, she was polite directly to me for the most part, but she came off as condescending on just about every topic that we talked about. It made me pretty uncomfortable. She made it sound like everything was not worthy.
She would tell me why everything sucks basically, and why her way was better. There was a lull in the conversation, so I tried to read a Stephen King novel that I brought along. She of course asked me what I was reading as soon as I picked up my book. When I told her, she had to tell me how much she dislikes Stephen King. "A bunch of phooey".
She then wiggled her hands in the air and said with a silly voice, "Ooooh...look at the floating lantern! So scary". She then told me that it wasn't real writing. She recommended that I read The Hunger Games. That was the first time I ever heard of The Hunger Games, so I had no idea what it was. I said I would check it out, though.
Years later when I think about it, I think, "She made fun of me for reading Stephen King because it isn't real writing, then she says I should read The Hunger Games?" I'm not saying that Hunger Games is bad, but once I found out what it was, I figured she would have been reading some obscure hard sci-fi book from the 1960s or something. Not Hunger Games.
26. 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.
27. 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 passed on 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 on. 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.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. He Left His Decency at the Airport
I was on a late-night flight from Las Vegas to Charlotte. Clearly, the best thing for me to do during the flight was to sleep through it. Maybe about an hour before we were scheduled to land, I was woken up by a grab on my bosom then a hand down my side. I remember jolting myself upright (I had my head down at the time) and coming face-to-face with this man.
He was grinning and absolutely REEKING of booze as if he had freaking bathed in it. He started to reach towards me again, so I pushed him away. He turned and walked away after that, but after a few steps this dude collapses. The flight attendants scrambled over to see what had happened, and of course there was a nurse on board who hopped up to see what was going on as well.
Feeling guilty, I put my head back down to "sleep" so I could eavesdrop on what was happening an aisle behind me. Apparently, this dude was 1) so out of it when he got on the plane that the attendants had refused to serve him alcoholic drinks multiple times during the flight, and 2) he was on all kinds of crazy heart meds and he shouldn't have been drinking in the first place.
32. 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...
33. 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.
34. On Your Right, You’ll Be Seeing Red
Was flying from California to Minnesota, and it was a normal flight at first, but all of a sudden, the sky turned blood red. We had apparently flown through the smoke of a forest fire and the pilot gave us no warning. Thought the apocalypse had started…
35. 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.
36. The Apple of My Eye
I was about 11 or 12 and we were on our way back from a trip. There's this cute little 2 or 3-year-old sitting behind me, so I start playing with him and his mom asked him, "Do you want to share your apple with her?" So, this little jerk threw this freaking apple at full speed right directly into my eye, giving me a semi-black eye for a few days.
The remainder of the trip was so awkward between him and I. I hope his baby strength disintegrated as the years went by. Not really a "horrible" plane experience, but definitely one I haven't forgotten...
37. 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.
38. That’s What You Get for Being Generous
Business class was overbooked, so I volunteered to move back to economy class in an aisle seat by the bathroom. I got a two for one deal for doing so. While sitting in my new seat, right before taxiing, a kid and his mom came hauling butt toward the bathroom. Right before the kid gets to the bathroom, he projectile vomits in my lap.
I cleaned my clothes the best I could, but I smelled like puke the entire way back home. From feast to famine.
39. 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 frantic, everyone told her this was much better than what we faced an hour ago. I seriously hate turbulence on plane rides.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. 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.
43. 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 darn, 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 frantically 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.
44. 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 what the eff 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.
45. Let’s Put a Smile on That Face
Was on a Chicago-DC flight a few years back (pre-9/11), and the guy sitting next to me takes out this ginormous Crocodile Dundee pocketknife, flips it open, then spends the entire flight cutting the faces off people in the in-flight magazine. Eeep.
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