Delayed, Diverted, and Disastrous: Tales of Air Travel Woes

Julie Suliguin - February 22, 2023

Air travel has become a routine part of modern life, but as any frequent flyer knows, things don’t always go according to plan. Long delays and lost luggage, as well as mid-flight emergencies and unexpected diversions, can quickly turn airline travel into a nightmare for passengers. People who have had delayed, diverted, or disastrous flights have shared their worst stories, serving as a reminder that anything can happen when it comes to air travel, and being prepared for the worst can make all the difference. So buckle up and prepare for some terrifying stories from the skies.

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1. No Memory of What Happened

The woman sleeping next to me started to convulse, and she began vomiting all over my right arm and lap. All I could do was reach up and hit the call attendant button. After 30 seconds she woke up with no recollection of what happened, and it had never happened before.

They relocated the woman and I excused myself to clean up.

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2. Having to Bear the Pain

On a three-hour flight, I was sat between two women who were a mother and her grown daughter. They kept talking over me and I asked if one of them wanted to switch with me and they laughed, “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.


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3. Never to Set Foot Again

The plane suddenly lost pressure, and the pilot did an emergency dive because we were losing oxygen. We just dropped several thousand feet without warning….one minute I’m sitting there listening to music, and then bam! Oxygen masks were released, and we were in free fall. When it was over, a lot of people had bleeding ears and noses from the rapid change in pressure. Not to mention we were at cruising altitude so a lot of people didn’t have their seatbelts on, so when the plane dropped they hit the ceiling hard. This was in 2004, and I haven’t set foot on another airplane since. And never will.


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4. Full-Throated Screams

Connecting flight going back home from Seattle. The plane was delayed from taking off while they tried in vain to calm down a kid who suddenly decided that planes were the most terrifying thing on the planet despite doing just fine on the last one a couple of hours earlier. Instead of escorting the family off the plane and rescheduling their connecting flight after he failed to show signs of calming down after 10 minutes, the rest of us had to sit there on the tarmac being subjected to 30 minutes of full-volume screaming before the family was asked to leave. Made the entire flight unpleasant because of how pissed off I was.

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5. Among the Worst Times

Having to fly back home from across the country caused of the pops to fall into cardiac arrest and not 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 put on a plane home with the thought that my dad had passed at some point during the flight. Being on an 8+ hour plane trip with the thought of not seeing my father ever again and every painful emotion racing through me 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 will add once I hit the ground, was told that my father had woken and was making progress against the odds. Glad to this day that I still have him.

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6. Broke Down Crying

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 (my 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.


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7. Confess Your Sin

I used to write for fun. One plane ride on the way to see my grandma I asked an adult (I was around 10 at the time) if I spelled a word right. A person decided to read my whole story (it was a short story) looked at me told me how to spell it then started talking about the Bible and how I need to repent. (I write dark) gave me their Bible at the end of the flight.

That was one of 5 bibles I’ve gotten on planes as a child. This story was just the weirdest. The person was a teacher if that matters.

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8. Hours Spent Suffering

I once had a flight attendant spill an entire container of orange juice on me within five minutes of takeoff. It was the first of two flights and my nearest change of clothing was in my checked luggage. It was disgusting and sticky, not to mention cold and wet.

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9. The Entire Flight

Flying with Pegasus Airline. If you think Ryan is without legroom, try them. And the cabin crew must have been in the army, they are extremely rude. I wanted to hear music after the start, using my earphones, the purser shouted in strange English: “No electronic device use on the flight!”. So I had to listen to the same advertisement video in the Turkish language for the whole flight over and over… Getting into the connecting flight to Germany with the same airline – who was the purser? Yep! So the same game again – only the advert was in English…

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10. What Appears to Be an eternity

The flight was already delayed by 3 hours. We got in and waited for ages to leave the gate. Went towards one runway, and once we almost reached it, we were assigned a different runway. Went towards the other runway where we were met with a massive queue of planes. Once our turn was near, turns out all this taxiing had drained so much fuel, we didn’t have enough for the actual flight. So we headed back to the gate to refuel. Once we get to the gate, the pilot announced that they have exceeded their maximum continuous flying hours. We had to get off the flight. We basically spent 3+ hours just taxiing around on the tarmac for nothing. But the airline did give us hotel rooms to stay the night (pizza dinner) and rebooked us on the next flight the next morning.


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11. No idea What Happened

The turbulence was so bad that I was trying so hard not to vomit that I passed out, and woke up sometime later both freezing cold and drenched in sweat. No idea what the heck happened there.

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12. That is Upsetting

I’ve probably flown 8 times (4 there, 4 back) and the worst was when I was young returning from Disney.

I was totally sunburned and I sat away from my family next to a kid playing Gameboy and when I tried to watch he turned away from me.

Still stings

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13. The Flight was Filled with Anxiety

Spirit Airlines, who advertise cheap flights and then you have to pay for literally everything else without being given the option not to. Pick a seat. Extra $100. Check a bag. Extra $100. It was like flying in a dirty cross-country bus in the sky, and I had anxiety the whole flight that built into a panic attack about an hour before we landed. I had to go sit in the bathroom for a while just to calm down. Worst experience ever.

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14. Intoxicated Brain

I traveled a lot to the Philippines, China, and India, from 1980-2000 or so. Manilla International was in absolute chaos before a flight. No line discipline, just a mass of people moving towards the ticket counters. It was always like that, so you kind of got used to it. The company I worked for allowed Business class for long flights, so once you could get through the mob to the Business class line, it went okay.

One Friday morning, I get to the airport a little hungover, and I walked into the terminal building, and it was empty. I could see maybe 10 human beings in the whole terminal. Being the curious traveler that I was, I questioned the guy at the ticket counter if they canceled the flight. He said, “no, but everyone canceled their tickets”. Ah, but why? He explained “Because of the typhoon” Oh, that explained the dark skies and heavy rain, my hungover brain informed me.

I asked, and they said, no, the flight is not canceled. So I got on the plane. The upper deck of an almost completely empty 747.

Doors close, and an off-duty pilot going to Tokyo sits down across the aisle from me and says “Better buckle up” The plane starts rolling and he says, “The first 10 minutes or so will be rough, but then it will be alright”.

Oh my! Just as we were about to rotate, I saw him grip the armrest so hard I thought he would break them. So I followed suit. I have logged well over a million air miles in my lifetime, and THAT scared the heck out of me. When we got above it, it was like glass all the way to Tokyo, but I was still shaking from the adrenaline when we got there.

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15. Water All Around

Water was leaking out of the air conditioner vent of the seats in front of us. As we were taking off, it hit me in the face. The flight attendant took some paper napkins and shoved them into the crack the water was coming out of, but by the end of the flight, they had fallen out or soaked through. I got splashed again as we were landing.

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16. It Was Harsh in There

Stuck on a six-hour flight where the crew only made two passes with drinks. For some reason, the air was super dry, to the point where my eyes were constantly itching and I felt like I was dying of dehydration.

Since then I always buy a 2L bottle of water from the duty-free before boarding, even though it’s way overpriced.

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17. Scowls and Glares

Had a child behind me on a 12-hour flight literally just screaming, not even crying.

I snapped and yelled at the mother that despite her idiotic belief, crying does not strengthen a child or create positive habits. G*g that child since she’s being inconsiderate by not doing ANYTHING about it.

I had a number of scowls and glares thrown my way, but I honestly feel SOMEONE had to say something.


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18. Crazy Situations

“Snowpocalypse” in 2013 or 2014 (I forgot) from Gainesville, FL to Atlanta after waiting 4 hours after when we were supposed to originally take off just to then have to spend the night in Hartsfield-Jackson because Atlanta was shut down completely due to ice. Travel was nuts, and they were just getting people out at all costs. I ended up going from Atlanta to SLC to DFW then finally to Nashville. For those unfamiliar with the geography, it’s a super easy flight to go from ATL to Nashville. After waiting all day in Hartsfield we finally took off from Atlanta to Salt Lake and hit a blizzard coming into the salt lake. I had a window seat and I was watching the wings flex upwards as the plane would just drop straight down probably 10 or so feet and the engines would do that high-pitched whine like they were struggling. The snow was so heavy in the air that I didn’t even see the runway until after we landed. I had the connecting flight from to DFW and because of our delay, it was supposed to take off 20 minutes or so after our landing. Because travel was so f*cked up they had a list of everyone who had a connection and they came over and called our names and told everyone else to stay seated. I grabbed my carry-on and sprinted off that plane. I was running through the SLC airport bear hugging a rolling suitcase and just running with it instead of dragging it. I remember every time I’d run past one of those screens that has the arrivals and departures more and more of them were delayed. I made it to my gate with literal seconds to spare and ran down that tunnel onto the plane. We took off and it was more crazy turbulence but once we got through it the captain informed us that we were the last plane to take off that evening. At that point, it was 10:30 or so at night SLC time which is 12:30 my time. I was exhausted and passed out until we got to DFW. Spent a few uneventful hours in DFW then had an uneventful rest of my trip to Nashville.

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19. Seat Downgrade

Was given a seat upgrade so I thought my flight was going to be roomy, being able to extend my disproportionately long legs into the exit row… Little did I know apparently there’s a heater to keep things warm when the door seals don’t do the job… Needless to say, neither was working out in my favor.

I asked one of the flight attendants if they could do anything about the frigid temperatures at my feet. They brought me some blankets and plastic bags, but a 6-hour flight pretty much guaranteed my feet went numb no matter how much I mummified my feet trying to insulate them.

I was on a work trip with an older thermal imager that kinda looked like a mix between a Star Trek phaser and a taser with a trigger, so pulling that out of a pelican case on a flight might have ended poorly, so I waited until we landed and started disembarking and snapped a few pictures.

If you didn’t know, it’s cold as a politician’s heart a few miles up in the sky. So even after we landed in SOCAL and waited for half an hour taxiing, the area where my feet froze was still around 14F.

Left the flight to wait for my next, hobbling away disgruntled. Tried complaining to corporate and nothing ever came of it, so the next best thing! I Rant about it a decade later on Reddit!

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20. It Felt so Bad

I had to take an emergency flight back home due to becoming aggressively sick (turned out I had pancreatitis) I was throwing up, blurred vision, and had extreme pain. At that moment I was hoping the plane would crash I felt so bad. There was a time change, and when I thought there was an hour left of the flight, the time changed and I realized it was two hours. I cried. There was one layover and I had the middle seat on both flights.

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21. On the Verge of Losing It

I was flying into Indianapolis from Phoenix. There was a major storm in Indianapolis when we arrived. So the jet circled the airport until it was safe to land. Meanwhile, we were hitting crazy turbulence. I am tall, so when I look forward I see clearly over the tops of the seat backs. Every time I would look forward over the seat tops, I could clearly see the twisting and flexing of the plane body. It was almost like looking forward over the heads of the people in front of you on a roller coaster.

Then the puking started. A couple of people kicked it off, then the sympathetic pukers joined in. I got through those two phases and gave my barf bag to a woman next to me that filled hers to the brim. Then I started gagging from the smell of all the vomit, and finally, we began the descent. I came really close to losing it and had we not started descending, I might have not powered through it. I knew I was minutes away from fresh air.

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22. Similar to Windows on a PC

We wait 30/40min and the plane still won’t leave the airport, so the captain tells the speakers “Ladies and gentlemen, we have rebooted the airplane a few times but there still is an issue with the software, so you will change the airplane.” I was like Whaaaaaaaat?!?!!? Rebooted the airplane?!?!? A few times?!?!?!!Whaaaaaaaat?????!!?! Are you kidding me???


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23. It Was Rude to Some

On my flight from Florida to Dulles, the plane had no air conditioning. Some lady sat next to me, sprayed perfume, and then proceeded to fan herself. I ordered a coffee in hopes she was one of those people, who would look at the coffee, and it would make them feel warmer. If it hadn’t been a full flight, I would’ve asked to move. The spraying of the perfume was rude, and it didn’t even smell good.


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24. Not Hating, But Hating the Experience

I had to endure 10 hours between two obese guys, no hate towards obesity but these two openly kept talking about how they don’t like to shower, which was obvious from the smell, were rude to the flight attendants and tried hitting on them constantly, I couldn’t sleep or even watch properly because they snored so loud and were loud in general that they constantly had to be told to keep quiet by everyone around and the pilots had to be involved. They refused to get up when I had to use the bathroom complaining that it would be a hassle to get up and told me to just use a bottle or just hold it in. Thankfully I was able to climb the seats because the people behind me generously offered to let me use their row to get out. It was a full plane ride and the captain and the flight attendants apologized for the flight afterwards and the captain told me if there had been a seat elsewhere even first class, he would have moved me there at no charge. And just when the plane landed the one in the aisle seat tried getting up instantly and tried to start getting his stuff together. When we docked and the doors opened he tried to rush and push everyone out of the way, and the one on the window seat basically screamed at me telling me to hurry up and move. He did push me out of his way when he got up so he can catch up with his buddy. Security caught them at the gate because they were having behavioral issues that went against the airport and airline regulations and were taken away. On the way back I took the same flight and the same plane and the same co-captain, he knew everything that went on during and after the flight, told me they were banned from the airline mainly for harassing the flight crew and were fined for endangering the public at the end of the plane ride. The captain on the flight back did offer me first-class seating at no charge after we took off, I think the co-pilot convinced her so I took the offer hehe


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25. The Scariest Feeling

I was flying to Peru but had connecting flight to Panama on the way to Panama lightning hit the plane and we fell a lot probably the scariest feeling in my life but after I couldn’t stop laughing for like 20 mins because of how nervous I was.

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26. Sound and Sensation

Had to fly home while I had a bad cold.

My ears never equalized because my nose was too stuffed up. I felt every foot of that climb another I could hear my heart pounding in my eardrums.

It was about a 90-minute flight, but it felt even worse on the descent. I thought my skull was going to split open.

After getting off the plane, I headed to the restroom. I blew my nose super hard, and I my ears readjusted themselves by making a farting sound and sensation.

My eardrums literally farted, and my pain was gone.

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27. Please, No!

When I was like 10 or 11, my parents sent me on a plane to Florida to visit my uncle.

When I got to my seat, I was excited because it was a window seat and there was a lady in the aisle holding a pillow. So I figured, this is going to be great. We got the middle seat open and everything and she seems like the quiet type. I was late boarding and figured everyone else was on board by now.

Then this very, very large man starts walking back. And I’m like… please. No.

He plopped down in between us and smelled like absolute sh*t. Just disgusting B.O., and he insisted on talking through almost the entire flight even though me and the lady put our headphones in trying to ignore him.


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28. Everybody Will Be Terrified

Last time I was on a long flight I kept getting nosebleeds and leg cramps (and not calf cramps — like thigh cramps which I’d never had before or since).

I’m actually a bit scared of flying now. It was that h*llish.

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29. Solo Flight and the Mishap

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 in assisted 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 sh*t. 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 eats their continental breakfast I grabbed a grapefruit halve because everything else looked gross and grapefruit is awesome. The flight attendant asks me if I’m on a diet and then looks at me like maybe I should be (I don’t think I was 100lb at the time)

My host (jailer) had to get 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 twelve-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 didn’t eat all day.

Then finally at 10 at night I get on my flight to Sydney. After 36 hours had breakfast in the flight. All because everybody decided a thirteen-year-old girl had no right to self-advocate.


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30. Fight Someone

The day after I got married, my wife and I were leaving for our Honeymoon. We had to get to the airport at 3 in the morning to board our flight on time which left at 5. When we arrived at the airport, we found out there was a problem with our seats, and we were going to sit 7 rows apart from one another, on opposite sides of the plane.

Even though the flight was only an hour and a half long to our connecting flight, I was so angry I wanted to fight someone.

Upon arriving at our connecting flight location, we found out our seating arrangements were going to be the same. We would have to sit many rows apart for a 7-hour flight. I asked the people who worked for the flight line if they could get us seats together, and they gave us seats that were in the same row, separated by the aisle. It was the fire exit row, so we had extra legroom, and we were able to see each other and still occasionally talk for the 7-hour flight.


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31. Mishaps on First Flights

A few years ago, I was going on a transatlantic flight with my wife. It was her first time and I wanted to make it special. I booked a flight with Norwegian on purpose to fly on the brand-new 787 Dreamliner. The cheap flight on an awesome plane, right?

Just a few days before the flight, I got a message telling me that all 787s were grounded because of some issue with the engines I think. So instead we flew with Air Iberia. The crew wasn’t prepared and they didn’t speak English. You could tell this was a flight put together last minute.

One thing about long flights like that one: the company has to put removable headrests that are washed between flights. Well on this flight, they had removed the headrests but didn’t put any back in. Do you know how they are attacked to the seats? With velcro. That right, instead of a soft headrest, we spent 8 hours with those plastic spikes from digging into the back of our heads.

By the way, as I mentioned, it was my wife’s first flight. Well, it felt like it was the pilot’s first flight judging by the hard landing with a bounce.

We did get a proper 787 Dreamliner on our flight back though. Best flight experience ever!

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32. Don’t Tell Anyone

I got extremely unwell 6 minutes before landing so I asked a flight attendant if I could please use the bathroom even though you’re really not supposed to do that close to landing.

Luckily- they let me use it. I was sweating, almost fainting (turned out I had eaten something wrong) and before I knew it the plane landed with me still being on the toilet. I walked out and the 2 flight attendants in the back just looked at each other like ?!?! And asked me if I was still in there. I told them ‘yep- I was doing so bad, but I’m a lot better now. Trust me it would have been more safe for me to be in that toilet than in my seat’ their eyes were huge and they – and I quote- said ‘please don’t tell ANYONE about this, we would be f*cked!!’ but we all laughed it off.

Mind you: I was a 20-year-old girl travelling alone to a very foreign country (Sri Lanka, I’m from the Netherlands) and I really thought I was going to pass out.


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33. It Was a Disaster

So back in 2014, I was visiting my girl for first time (now my wife) in the USA. Anyway, the day before I was scheduled to fly back home to Australia I contracted the worst case of gastro/stomach flu. For anyone that has had it before knows it is horrible. I was puking and pooping at the same time all day. Anyway, I got treatment for it and I recovered pretty well for my flight the next day. My stomach was still really sensitive and I drank a lot of water to replenish my fluids and I could only eat light foods like fruit and salad. I boarded the flight and everything seemed okay but then shortly after take-off we hit some turbulence for about 5 minutes and I could feel the water slushing around in my stomach badly. It started a chain reaction in my stomach that I couldn’t stop. My guts started producing copious amounts of gas. At first, I tried to keep the gas inside but there was so much air pressure it was just too painful to keep inside. I had the aisle seat so I kept going to the bathroom to relieve the pressure in my guts.

The farts were the worst smell my body has ever produced. Such a nasty putrid smell. The farts kept coming. I’m talking at least a fart a minute.
The turbulence had started something I couldn’t stop. At first, I kept going to the bathroom but it was so frequent eventually I had to give in and just started letting out farts in my seat. I felt so bad about it but I honestly had no choice. I’d never felt that kind of air pressure in my stomach before and I couldn’t spend the whole flight in the bathroom. (It was an 11 hour’s flight from New York to Qatar) I felt so bad for the people around me.

My farts smelled so awful. I tried to conceal the fact that it was coming from me as best I could. It was a packed flight and my farts kept coming at least 1 a minute for the entire flight. I can’t even imagine how the people around me must’ve felt.
A nightmare flight no doubt.

No one said anything but at one point a man stood up in front of me, an angry look on his face, looking around for who was the stinky culprit and I pretended I was sleeping. Those poor people…


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34. People always React in Panic

This was when I was 15. I was sat in the middle seat, in between a tour group that must have contained a lot of first-time flyers.

Cue the flight attendants announcing to the passengers to fasten their seatbelts. The two people on either side of me started freaking out because they couldn’t find their seatbelts. I tried telling them they probably sat on them, but they’re rather large so I think it’s difficult for them to get up and they rather panic instead.

They were screaming and other people in the tour group started freaking out too. The flight attendants came but had a hard time understanding them through the screaming.

I was also trying to explain to everyone what was happening. One of the people next to me finally calmed down enough and asked me for help him/her to find the seatbelt. I had no choice but to reach under his/her butt, free the seatbelt, reach over, and fasten it for him/her. S/he yelled something to the rest of the tour group and I guess they figured it out since there were whoops and cheers. I had to help the other person next to me and reach under his/her butt too. They were both sweaty.

Then they decide to host a prayer session before the plane took off. The two people next to me were genuinely sweet and tried to make me feel included in the prayer group by holding my hand, but enforced prayer sessions just make me want to scream, “F*ck Jesus!” and go to sleep.

I mean, they were sweet people initially. They were worried about why a young girl was all alone on such a long flight, and I had to explain that my family checked in really late, so we ended up separated. They were chatty and asked me a LOT of questions about flying. I needed to sleep though, so it was painful.

Finally, I decided to just order booze so I can pass out drunk. This was a more innocent time when most non-American airlines will not check for IDs.

As soon as my Bailey’s came, one of the people next to me shot me the most disgusted look and snapped, “You drink?”

I told him/her yes, and after that, I got left alone.

Until I got woken up when and started feeling squashed. So they’re both larger people and I felt bad for them since it was really tight for them, so earlier during the flight, I showed them the armrests can go up so they can just spill into my seat. Like a lot of Asian women, I’m kinda short and tiny so there’s plenty of space in my seat. Unfortunately, when they were asleep, they start melting into me and I got squashed. I ended up sitting at the edge of my seat without the seatbelt on to escape.

Oh, and they had another prayer session before the plane landed and all cheered and whooped when we landed safely.

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35. Being in This Situation is Frightening

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 and couldn’t get any more back than that as far as seats went.

Anyways, halfway through the 9-10 hour flight, a couple of 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 named 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 just passed away. 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, It’s frightening to be in a situation where no potent help will come. I hope the family found some peace.


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36. Many Hours of Suffering

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 in 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 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) mentioned 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.

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37. People Cried Out in Fear

A Bristol to Paris flight, late in the evening, with a lot of rain.. the plane takes off normally then after 15mn, the pilot announces “well, you noticed the horrible weather, well, there is a huge thunderstorm just ahead, we are going to have to go around it a bit, it will shake up a bit but don’t be afraid, I’m used to it “.. everyone looks a little scared. ENORMOUS turbulence follows, very big air holes, the plane shaking A LOT, the impression that the plane is falling in the storm, with lightning all around! I thought “hmm, we’re actually in the storm”….people panicked and screamed all around, some were crying, “we will diiiiie” it was impressive! it lasted almost half of the trip when suddenly everything was over and everybody laughed and applauded haha. I think some people really pissed on themselves this night.

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38. It Was a Mess Everywhere

I’m not religious, but the church I was forced to go to in my youth had yearly pilgrimage trips to Lourdes for special needs kids over the Easter holidays. I volunteered to go and help out when I was 18 because of a free trip to France.

The jet was one of those huge double-decker ones, and it was full of other parishes with special needs children from all other the country. The turbulence was bad, the worst I’ve ever experienced.

About 30 minutes into the flight we hit a really bad spot and the plane dropped for a few seconds, flying a few unbuckled special needs children up into the ceiling as the lights went off the oxygen masks fell down. Simultaneously; It caused two to sh*t themselves, one next to me to vomit all over her carers pastel pink tracksuit, all while the plane erupted in screams and laughter from kids who didn’t have the capacity to understand what was happening.

In hindsight, it was f*cking terrifying but at the time I just laughed because I was a teenager. It was just so f*cking chaotic and seeing a lad in front of me suddenly hit the ceiling like a sack of potatoes just tickled me. Thankfully nobody was hurt and the lad was completely unphased.

However, the humours side of the situation was short-lived as the rest of the flight stank of sh*t and puke despite the poor air hostesses’ efforts to try and clean it all up.


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39. No Class

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 ass toward the bathroom. Right before the kid gets to the bathroom, the 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.

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40. Fun and Terrifying All at Once

Flying to Vegas with my wife on our first anniversary. As soon as we took off, a strange sound started coming from the bottom of the plane. Everybody was freaked out and pushing their button to call the steward but he just stood at the front of the plane shaking his head.

Turns out the landing gear was stuck half up and the pilot couldn’t get it to go all the way up or all the way down. We circled for about 45 minutes while the steward showed the people in the exit rows how to open the doors. People were freaking out. I think they were planning on trying to make an emergency landing in Lake Michigan, but then the pilot was finally able to get the landing gear back down so we landed back at the airport we took off from.


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41. Morning of 9/11

I was on a plane on the morning of 9/11, waiting to take off. Once the attacks occurred, everything came to a halt, of course. We were grounded. We then sat on the tarmac for four hours, terrified, waiting to get back off. All while I listened to the horrible news unfolds on my Walkman.

When we finally exited the plane, it was a cattle call. Thousands of people plowed through O’hare, which was closed. Police and security guards yelled “Keep moving! Everybody out!”

Everyone was trying to either get to a hotel or back home.

Crazy scary.


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42. For All the Trouble

I was in the army, and going home to surprise my mom for Christmas. I was at my final layover in Newark, sometime late at night. I’m waiting at the gate to board the plane when they announce the flight has been delayed by a half hour. No big deal.

They continue to delay the flight a half an hour further back at a time. We’d get to 5 minutes before boarding and they’d push it back a half hour. This went on for 3 hours. Apparently, they were waiting for our plane and crew to arrive from Pittsburgh and they couldn’t take off because of a storm. The plane finally arrives, and we board.

Unfortunately, by the time we get out to the runway, the storm that stopped them from getting to us has now reached Newark. So we sit on the runway for an hour and a half waiting for the storm to pass so we can take off.

By the time the storm passes, when considering the time of our upcoming flight, we can no longer fly because the crew cannot work for a consecutive 16 hours without a sleeping break due to FAA rules. They tell us our flight is cancelled, and we need to get off the plane.

So at this point, were about 5 hours past the original boarding time. It’s the middle of the night, I haven’t seen my family in a year, and it’s now officially Christmas Eve. We all have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen. They gave us all a $12 meal voucher, except at this point the airport is basically closed. The only thing that’s open is Mcdonald’s, and of course, they only have a limited menu. All one hundred and something of us are in the line, so that takes some time.

They tell us that there is no way they can get us a flight today. The only option is for us to take the bus they have arranged for us. We were pissed but didn’t really have much of a choice. I figured I would work it out with the airline later. So they sit us all in the main lobby of the airport, where we wait for another 2 hours for this bus to arrive. Despite paying for a 1-hour layover and a 1-hour flight to Syracuse, I got an 8-hour layover and an 8-hour bus ride.

All I got from the airline was the meal voucher that I received at the airport. Apparently, they didn’t HAVE to do anything, because this entire situation was caused by the weather (which, it wasn’t, it was caused by their lack of planes available to use).

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43. The Anxiety of Traveling Alone

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… B*tch what. And he goes “Yeah I’ve done it a couple of times, only a few die every time so you have nothing to worry about.” Amazingly I didn’t start crying, but he was actively trying to scare a 7-year-old girl travelling alone.


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44. “Whoops, Our bad”?!

After United had that PR disaster dragging that poor dude off the plane I got curious and looked at ticket prices. They were a solid $100/ticket cheaper than nearly every other airline for a flight back home. I thought “they can’t possibly be that bad,” and bought a ticket for my ladyfriend and I to spend a week with family in my hometown.

We leave Milwaukee on a Saturday. We boarded the plane and taxied to the runway, then proceeded to sit there for two hours. The captain came on the intercom and said that since the terminal was full so we couldn’t go back, and we were not cleared to leave so they were going to shut down engines to save fuel. It was a hot day. There was no AC. It was not pleasant.

We landed in Chicago in time to watch our connecting flight take off. We pushed, pinched, pulled, and elbowed our way to customer service because there was a mob of 150 angry passengers behind us and we didn’t want to miss our vacation. Customer service said it was unfortunate, but the next flight to my destination airport was not until Wednesday. That was obviously unacceptable, so I called my folks and we talked about all the airports they could drive to in a reasonable amount of time. If it came to it we could just get a flight back to Milwaukee and drive to Idaho, and still be there before Wednesday.

After nearly 45 minutes of fighting with Customer service, I was ready to just ask for a refund and pay another carrier who had their sh*t together. As soon as I mentioned “refund” a manager came over and told us that we could fly with one of their partners that could get us there Saturday evening, but if we chose to do that we would have to waive our claim to a hotel. We grudgingly agreed.

So new plan. Fly United to Seattle, fly Delta to the middle of nowhere Idaho. The flight departs the next morning, so we make a little bed out of packed clothes and take turns sleeping on the floor.

We board the new United flight mid-morning. We are seated and ready to go when the captain comes over the intercom and explains that there are some mechanical issues and we are not flight worthy, and we need to wait for a mechanic. About an hour later we are ready to push off. We start moving backwards and there is a loud bang from the front of the plane. After a few more minutes the captain comes back on the intercom and says that we broke a tow bar, and would need to wait for a new one and do more paperwork.

We are finally off the ground two hours behind schedule. We are going to miss the Delta flight. I buy the in-flight wifi and scream above the engine noise at some poor customer service rep via skype. I explained that we were going to miss our Delta flight in Seattle and needed to reroute again. She says we are now Delta’s problem and gives me their phone number. I call Delta with a referral number in hand and explain the situation. Delta had no record of United transferring us to them and said we needed to call them back. The Delta tickets we had were for an already full flight. I get back on the phone with United. “Whoops, our bad” and we get a new flight with Alaskan Airlines. We ended up landing at our destination early Monday morning when we were supposed to arrive Saturday night. This meant my mother had to take an extra day off work and drive to an airport several hours away which cut into our already limited vacation time.

The return flight had the same issues, but we were lucky enough to have a long enough layover that it didn’t require us to reroute.

That is the last time I will ever fly with them. I don’t care that I saved a few dollars on our tickets. It’s worth the money to fly with a company that treats its passengers like people instead of simple cargo.


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45. First Sight of Blood

On an eight-hour flight, I began watching a movie they offered. Showed someone getting a needle and I passed out (I have an issue with blood) But for whatever reason, I first got deathly white and threw up all over my family. The last thing I remember was my dad rolling his eyes and my mom was yelling for flight attendants and demanding they land the plane. The rest of the flight went smoothly, I think.