Travelers Share The Times Airline Travel Went Horribly Wrong

Travelers Share The Times Airline Travel Went Horribly Wrong

Flying has never been easier. Modern technology has improved the industry enabling people to book flights without the need for a travel agent, something that was much more difficult to do years ago. Today you can go online, shop for the best fares, check into your flight, and perform the majority of your pre-flight tasks before stepping one foot into an airport.

The inconveniences of yesteryear are long gone, but unfortunately, that doesn't mean your trip is guaranteed to be a smooth one. Most airlines do the best they can to get you to your destination, but sometimes the weather, other passengers, or unforeseen circumstances can unexpectedly change your flight plan. We asked flyers from around the world to share their most horrific airline experiences -- and let's just say, these people probably won't be flying again anytime soon.

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45. Great timing.

I was riding a C-130 out of Baghdad for the short hop to Kuwait for mid-tour leave. We go all out for leather down the runway. Just before we lift off, two engines conk out and we skid to a halt.

"Gawd, glad that didn't happen whilst we was in the air," announces the North Carolina Air Guard crew chief.

Iraq sucked.

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44. No room to stretch out.

I was coming home from Thailand to Seattle... It's a 16-hour flight. and I had the worst case of food poisoning in history. I spent the majority of that flight stuck in the airline bathroom. When I wasn't in the bathroom I was in my seat curled up in a ball shaking and sweating. I was so sick I was at the point of hallucinating.


43. Dark flight of the soul.

I had to fly back home from the other side of the country because my father went into cardiac arrest and he was not expected to make it. I had one phone call with my mother explaining the situation and that’s all I heard from anyone before my flight. I was put on a plane home with the thought that my dad had passed at some point during the trip.

Being on a 8+ hour plane ride with the thought of never seeing your father ever again and every painful emotion racing through you while also being 30,000 feet in the sky with a bunch of strangers... that was one of the worst moments of my life. Hope I never experience anything like that ever again.

But I will add once I hit the ground, I was told that my father had woken up and was making progress against all odds. Glad to this day I still have him.

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42. Too hot to handle.

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 all over my bare chest (dad was changing my shirt) burning a large portion of my body. I had a massive scar for a year or two after, and apparently the poor flight attendant had a total breakdown for the remainder of the flight.

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41. Close call.

The woman sleeping next to me started to convulse, and she began to be sick 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. I'm honestly just glad she was okay.

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40. The air up there.

I was flying from from California to Minnesota. It was a perfectly normal flight at first -- not too much turbulence, no unruly passengers, flight attendants all seemed professional. But things took a turn when all of a sudden the sky turned red.

We had apparently flown through the smoke of a forest fire and the pilot gave us no warning. We all thought the apocalypse had started...

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39. Cut out the middle man.

On a three hour flight, I was seated between two very loud and frankly enormous women -- a mother and her grown daughter. They kept talking over me, so I asked if one of them wanted to switch with me. They just 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 with my arms awkwardly crossed (they both claimed the armrests) while they talked over me the entire time.

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38. Maybe she was thirsty.

Had a flight attendant throw up on my lap because she became inebriated before we took off. I'm pretty sure she got fired. I was 11.

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37. Not an explosive.

A friend and I were traveling from California to Utah with one way tickets. We decided on a whim to fly there for a show and weren't sure when we wanted to head home. We had a single large duffel bag between us as well as a large prop relating to the show we were seeing. It was a motorcycle helmet with the front windshield part removed and a microphone mounted on the side, with the mic part coming around in front of the mouth part. There were red and blue wires connecting the mic to the inside of the helmet. Neither one of us thought it was that weird so my friend took it as her carry on item. So. We have two girls with one way tickets, a large black duffel bag, and a helmet with a mysterious object mounted to the side. This spelled out threat apparently because we were detained and questioned before we even made it to the gate. They had to put us on the next flight four hours later. All because neither one of us thought about the fact that maybe our microphone-helmet hybrid looked like a bomb.


36. For the birds.

I was flying an early morning flight from Schiphol airport in Holland to Greece.

We take off and about 15-20 seconds in we get a bird strike on the left engine. I'm sat on the left side around the wing area and suddenly we've got what feels like turbulence and orange flashes flying from the engine. Instead of carnage on-board, everyone is very silent as I was.

After what feels like ages, this all stops and we are flying normally. As far as I remember it took the pilot and crew a lifetime to tell anyone what was going on, but we head out over the sea, dump fuel from the engine and head back to Schiphol.



35. What he have here is a failure to communicate.

I flew to Scotland from Australia with Etihad. They left our luggage behind on the stopover because they were running late. We had no communication from the airline when we arrived, we were not reimbursed at all, they then delivered our luggage to another passenger, and then we finally got it delivered six days into a 15-day trip.

We flew home and discovered they did the exact same thing. It took three days to get it back the second time.

That debacle, plus delays, waiting on the tarmac for hours at a time, and the complete lack of customer service has led me to vow to never fly with them again.

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34. Injured in transit.

Flying from Curaçao to Amsterdam, it was pretty much a quiet flight until like 30 mins before we land in Amsterdam, the girl right next to me decided she needed her coat from the overhead compartment. She opened the overhead compartment and a heavy bottle drops on top of my head. At first I thought ok no worries, until I touch the place the bottle hit and see that I've been injured. Blood all over the place, thankfully it was just a flesh wound.  Great... got it fixed in Amsterdam while I was waiting for my connecting flight to Lisbon. Worst part is, the girl wasn't even at all apologetic.


33. It's so close.

When I was coming back from Cozumel there was a storm in the Twin Cities so we couldn't land there. We circled for a while before having to land in Bemidji. We were on the ground in Bemidji for about four hours. That certainly made the flight stink more than it normally would. With extra time circling, I think we were six and a half hours late in total.

The guy in the seat behind mine lived in Bemidji. He could see his house and his friend's house just before we touched down there. Now you'd think this would be a good turn of events for him -- except they had no customs in Bemidji. He couldn't deplane. He called his friend from the plane to tell him just how late he'd be. It's a four-hour drive down to the cities. We saw his friend drive down to pick him up as we sat there on the runway.


32. It only takes one.

One of my parents is from South America. The family there had government and military ties. When I was about 10 years old, we were trying to fly to the remote state where our family is from. Commercial flights were all booked but my aunt was able to pull some strings and we got on a military flight.

We got to the airport and boarded a small two-engine plane. Our family of five was there with 4 or 5 other military personnel and a small crew. The 90-minute flight was uneventful. That is, until about 15 min from our destination, the engine on the right wing burst into flames. The cabin filled with smoke and the mood deteriorated from cautious optimism to genuine fear. The plane dipped a bit but the pilot kept things in order.

It turns out, these planes can easily fly with a single engine. The smoke was a bit of a concern but the staff eventually explained that we were never truly in peril. Still, little kid me was terrified that day and certain I would pass away on a plane far away from all my friends.

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31. Thanks for the help.

I will never ever fly with United again. Taking a direct flight out of Orlando to SFO with a 3 year old. Full flight, I have paid for a seat for my 3 year old, carry on his car seat and strap him in no problem. Goes down from there. Apparently the plane had come in the night before and had some mechanical problem that no one fixed. They off boarded us and re-board us 3 times. The last time we are told the flight won't be taking off and we will all received hotel vouchers for the night and will be put back on this plane the next morning. Well would anyone help me struggle back off the plane with the 3 year old, a car seat and diaper bag, now way. So I am last in line at the counter where the vouchers are being handed out and it is finally my turn, I laid my head on the counter and cried. Luckily for me I could fly into any of the 3 bay area airports; so of all 300 plus people on that flight I got a flight home on Delta. Well the Delta terminal is what seems like miles from the United terminal and I ask for assistance. Why would United give me any help, their answer was I had 3 hours to make it over to Delta that would be plenty of time. It took 23 hours to get to my destination. Lucky for me my son was a real trooper and was well behaved, no tears, no annoying anyone else.

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30. Might as well drive.

I was flying from LAX to Oklahoma City with a layover in DFW. When we landed in Dallas a storm came in that delayed my connecting flight for seven hours. The thing that's fun about that is that Oklahoma City to Dallas is a three-hour drive so theoretically I could have had someone drive down from OKC, pick me up at DFW and drive me back to OKC just in the time I spent waiting for my connecting flight.

But I had checked luggage so that would have been impossible anyway except that when I finally arrived in OKC the airline lost my luggage. And despite arriving several hours after my flight was supposed to get in my brother still managed to be over an hour late picking me up because the same storm had caused a headlight to burn out on his car (there was a leak in his casing). He got pulled over three times for it and one of the cops told him he had to change the bulb immediately, which he did only to have it burn out five minutes down the road because there was still water in the casing.



29. You asked for it.

Was on a recruiting trip in late September. The night before, we went to a huge party and got extremely inebriated. Was gone from 10pm to around 3am--and my flight was at 6am. I made it to the airport fine, still probably wasted, but I made it. Made the first 2 hour leg of the flight fine. During the one hour layover is when the headache due to last nights actions hit me. My fellow teammates were not doing so well either. We board the next flight and my teammate is lucky enough to get to the bathroom in the cabin to be sick, but not me. We take off and it feels like the entire plane is spinning in circles. I had the vents on to the fullest which was probably what kept me from also being sick during the flight, but when we landed, they must have turned the A/C off because the vents were no longer blowing cool air. I knew at that point I wasn't going to make it, pulled out the bag and blew chunks as we were taxiing. Easily the worst experience of my life so far.


28. Quiet please.

After a week-long vacation in the Caribbean, I was flying back to the states on an early morning flight and I wasn't feeling well. I couldn't even drink water without throwing it up. ALL I wanted to do on my flight home was sleep.

The flight attendants got on the intercom literally every 20 minutes or so and woke me up trying to sign us up for credit cards and sell duty-free adult beverages and perfumes during the flight. I called a flight attendant over and said "Look, I'm really sick here and just trying to sleep. You've already announced the credit card and the duty-free stuff several times. Can you please not do that again?"

Well, they kept doing it, and after another two or three times, I yelled: "JUST BE QUIET ALREADY!" Apparently, I wasn't the only one not feeling well because several more people on the plane chimed in saying "YEAH, BE QUIET" and "WE'RE TRYING TO SLEEP" and "NOBODY WANTS THE CREDIT CARD!"


27. Handle with care.

I was 15 or 16 years old and I was flying across the country and for the first time by myself. My mom had wanted to treat me so she splurged and bought me a ticket with extra legroom. Because of that, I got one of the front seats, with no storage room so the "nice" flight attendant put my backpack on the overhead compartment and said she would get it for me when we reached altitude.

We hit the needed height and I asked for my backpack. I had brought my computer, some books, and some snacks with me. Well, she opens the overhead compartment then another passenger tries to ask her a question while she is fumbling around to find my bag. She ends up dropping my bag, it bounced off the shoulder of another passenger and then slammed into the floor. Then she picked it up and tossed it in my general direction.

I didn't know it until I got home some six hours later but that fall had smashed the internal components of my computer. The disk drive didn't work anymore and neither did the fan. I ended up having to buy a new computer.

26. In the eye of the storm.

I flew from Ohio to Charlotte, North Carolina. During the flight, a hurricane unexpectedly turned hard inland and made landfall. All air traffic was not permitted to land, was backed up to the maximum, and flights were forced to circle the airport until they could get them on the ground. Unfortunately, we arrived late and the air traffic at 30,000 feet was completely clogged.

Instead, we were forced to circle the airport, below those flights, which was in the heart of the hurricane. We flew in circles for an hour and ten minutes, with lightning on both sides of the plane nonstop, with heavy turbulence.

Everything was thrown all over the plane, people crying, and basic terror. When we finally landed, no one would exit the plane. The applause lasted until the captain came out and spontaneously began weeping. He told us that he is so, so sorry that we all had to experience that but that he was happy that he had the privilege of getting us safely back on solid ground and then hugged an older lady that kissed him until we forgot about the hurricane and started to feel uncomfortable for him.

I have white-knuckled every flight since then because, trauma.

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25. You can count on us.

I was sitting in a hot and fully boarded plane somewhere in sunny Spain and the stewardesses are pacing up and down the aisle counting and talking to each other. After a few minutes they announce they are one passenger short and as a result, there is one extra checked bag.

The solution is to take all the checked baggage out of the plane, lay it on the runway and have everyone find their bag. The engines are off, so there is no air conditioning, in a jam-packed plane in sunny Spain.

The guys unloading the plane are so slow it is hard to fathom and people are getting edgy. Two hours later, the plane is still not empty but almost. One of the stewardesses walks through the cabin double checking some numbers. With a slightly worried face, she talks to a colleague.

They counted wrong. They load the plane again. We spend two more hours in hot no-air-conditioned and jam-packed plane.

The company went out of business shortly after.

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24. Holiday travel is the worst.

Flew from Winnipeg to Buffalo... by way of Toronto and Newark.

I was with my family, we were coming home from Christmas. We leave and get to the airport nice and early, which was good because about 10min later all these people come piling into the United checking counter line, which stretches back about fifty feet. On the board, out of the blue, it says our flight is delayed three hours. Now we're going to be getting out of Winnipeg at the same time we were supposed to be boarding our connection in Chicago.

We were the second group in the line, after a while the United agent comes out and pulls a real MVP move by sending us to Air Canada, who get us a plan to fly to Toronto, then to Newark, and finally back the way we came to Buffalo.

So we play Airline Ping-Pong and, by some miracle, it works. Not one missed connection, and I got an extra-legroom seat with a TV on the Air Canada flight and got to see Manhattan from the air at night as we left Newark, which by the way is a really poorly laid out airport. We had to leave one terminal, take a train and go back through security to get to the terminal we were supposed to be in.



23. Now that's we call a round trip.

I had spent a week on the outskirts of Toronto at this rundown hotel/convention center doing a trade show for my company. I hated it, and I was miserable all week. My company did not allow me to rent a car because the hotel was located at the convention center, and there was a restaurant across the street. So, I was stuck, for 6 days, at this hotel with one place to eat.

It is finally the day to leave, and I am up at the crack of dawn to catch the first shuttle to the airport. I'd rather sit in the terminal for 4 hours than stay in that hotel a minute longer.

After being at the airport for a while, they finally load us on the plane, and I am relieved. I've had a few drinks so I can sleep on the flight. We take off, and I put on my headphones and try to sleep. The plane starts to climb, then descends. A few minutes later the plane starts to climb again, then descends. This goes on for 45 minutes before the captain comes on the speaker and tells us that the cabin will not pressurize, and they have to turn around, 45 minutes into the flight, and return to Toronto.

We get back to the airport, I am steaming. We sit for another 2 hours while they say they are readying another plane for us. After 3 hours they finally tell us that there will not be another flight available until the following day, and they will assist us with hotels for the night. I am miserable at this point. Well, guess where they booked us to stay that night? Yep, that same hotel/conference center I had just escaped from.

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22. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

My family and I are English, living in the States. We were going to fly back one Christmas to visit England. Our flights were, Cincinnati to Atlanta (9-hour layover), Atlanta to Amsterdam (2-hour layover), and Amsterdam to Manchester.

Well, the first leg of the journey was fine. The layover in Atlanta, however, is when things went wrong. We were waiting at our gate, which was at the very end of the mile-long terminal. About seven hours into our layover, an announcement comes over the intercom telling us that our flight has been moved to the other end of the terminal.

No big deal. We get up and move all of our stuff to the other gate which took us about 15 minutes of walking to get to the other end. We settle in for our next two hours. Well, another announcement comes over the intercom, telling us that our plane is delayed by another hour. This stinks. Oh well. Anyway, the plane arrives, we all board, strap in and are ready to go. We wait to depart. And wait, and wait...

Until a flight attendant makes an announcement that there is an "electrical leak" in our plane, so we all need to get off. So we de-plane, and get some meal vouchers for the inconvenience, and are then told that our substitute plane will be arriving in an hour. At our original gate.

So it's another trek across the terminal for us. We stop at the food court for the third time during our stay, get some terrible food and sit down to eat. Five minutes later, another announcement comes over and tells us that our plane is now boarding! So we book it to the other end of the terminal and make it onto our plane just in time.

Thirteen hours later we arrive in Manchester and collect our luggage. It's soaking wet. There had been a storm in Atlanta during our layover, and the crew had just left everyone's bags on the tarmac. This stunk, not only because our clothes got wet, but so did all of our presents for our family.


21. Getting ready to say goodbye.

I was flying home. We were at cruising altitude, somewhere above 32,000 feet, with zero turbulence when suddenly the plane just plummeted. The weirdest thing was, the wings and nose stayed level, so you just felt the sudden loss of gravity and marveled as all the unsecured objects (including the flight attendant) hit the cabin ceiling. I had my seatbelt on, somewhat loosely, and I was hovering about two inches above my seat.

People were screaming, and praying. The man in front of me was telling his wife how much he loved her; the woman behind me was telling her little girl, “Close your eyes baby.” Life does imitate art, and this was a disaster movie.

I don’t know why, but I remained completely unmoved; no panic, no tears. I thought, “This is how it ends. I didn’t think it would end like this.” Then I remembered that my parents would be waiting at the gate (it was 1994), and I imagined their anguish as the waves of bad news rolled in. Delay. Incident. Accident. Crash. Rescue. Recovery. No survivors. So, a silent prayer for Mom and Dad; then I waited for the worst.

Suddenly, it was over. I don’t know how long our "uncontrolled descent” lasted. Like all intensely stressful situations (car accidents, combat, small children’s birthday parties) time dilates. I do know we recovered at roughly 5,000 feet.

The remainder of the flight passed in complete silence, barring the announcements from the flight deck and the cabin crew checking for injuries. Instead, we all just looked at each other, and I mean really looked. It was an odd and powerful sensation, one hundred strangers having conversations without anyone saying a word. We also landed in silence, no cheers or applause. Coming out of the gate, with all the friends and family waiting, I expected someone to break down crying or rush into their loved one’s arms. Weren’t we in a disaster movie? Instead, nothing. A hundred silent passengers made their way to baggage claim, still looking at each other, friends and families trailing behind. And then we went on our way.


20. You didn't miss much.

Back in 2012, I was on a China Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Los Angeles. Being a long-haul flight and the fact that it is a major connector in the trans-Pacific route, the plane stopped at Taipei, Taiwan for a layover. The flight was almost empty from Malaysia to Taiwan but when we re-boarded the plane, we were greeted by a stampede of Chinese citizens. Chaos ensued during the part where everyone is awkwardly trying to both walk through the narrow aisles AND load their bags in the overhead cabins. This is an event that is usually a horrible experience on all flights.

And that's not even the worst part yet. I went to sleep and was greeted with a dropped-down tray with half my food missing. Okay, so the flight attendant laid out my food while I was sleeping. As it turns out, the man next to me had helped himself to generous servings of my meal of chicken curry and rice. He even took the dinner roll with him. Keep in mind, the food was likely only served a few minutes earlier because the cart was only a few rows down my seat!

The flight attendant gave me a complimentary upgrade to Business class, profusely apologizing and gave me more food that wasn't served in tin foil containers. I got seated next to a sleeping old man. Alrighty then, back to sleep I went.

OOOHHHFFFF! I woke up with a sharp pain in my stomach. The old man next to me had apparently woken up and took the liberty to jab me in the stomach with his walking stick. He started to angrily scold me as if I did something wrong and lecture me in a rapid torrent of Mandarin Chinese. I could understand some of what he was saying so I mustered up what little mastery I had of the Chinese language to say "I'm not your son! I'm not your son!" He thought I was his son and was scolding me on why I didn't wake him up or something like that.

Needless to say, I had a sour experience flying on that particular flight.


19. Turns out things really do stay in Vegas.

I was flying back from Vegas with a friend from a Bachelorette party. We got to the airport around 9:30 AM, and our plane was due to leave at 10:45 AM or so. We board and its the middle of June so it's 115 degrees outside, but on the tarmac easily 120 degrees or more. They scoot back from the gate and just as we get to the runway, the engine dies. So we pull back up to the gate and wait with absolutely no AIR CONDITIONING. We do not have water, ice, or anything to help with the heat.

We wait in the plane for over an hour. We are sweating and some people are freaking out demanding to be let off which they refused to do. A lady faints, some people start getting nosebleeds. It was on the verge of becoming a riot. Towards the middle of the plane, some college students started playing "I Believe I Can Fly", by R. Kelly. We all started to sing along, our spirits lifted and after 2 hours of being stuck in there, they let us off the plane.

Now they offer water and snacks. Some people with kids refuse to get back on another plane and they leave. So we wait for another hour or two in the airport waiting for another plane to fly us home. We get on, about 3/4 of the people return. We board, and they start moving us back from the gate, and BAM it STOPS AGAIN!!!!!!! This time we wait another 1.5 hours until they let us off the plane. We wait, we make phone calls, we yell. A 3rd plane comes rolling up and it's air-conditioned and glorious. We pull back from the gate with less than half the previous occupants. We get in the air and land. The airline offered $100 vouchers, that expired in a year. NEVER AGAIN!!!


18. Surprise, you're grounded.

I went on a surprise weekend trip to visit my significant other from Indianapolis, Indiana to Rochester, New York. I was leaving Friday morning and returning Monday morning. My first flight from Indiana was canceled, so I was re-booked on to a flight later in the afternoon. Okay, no problem.

But then the afternoon flight was delayed due to mechanical problems and we arrived in Detroit too late for my connecting flight. Well, fine. I went to the help desk and they again re-booked me for a yet later flight which was scheduled to leave in 3 hours or so. I'd be getting into ROC substantially later than I had originally intended, but that's okay.

While I was eating dinner in the DTW terminal, the system automatically changed my reservation to a different, earlier flight to ROC, which then left without me since I didn't know I had been re-booked again. So then I get to the gate of the flight I thought I was going to be on and I am told that my reservation had been canceled since I was supposed to have left on an earlier flight already.

Umm, nobody told me that. So I went to the help desk again and was given two options: Go on standby for the later flight to ROC (the one I had been re-booked to earlier, then had had my reservation cancelled), or go on standby on a flight back to IND, but on the opposite side of the DTW terminal (which is essentially a single mile-long hallway), that left at the same time.

If I didn't make either flight, there were no other flights leaving DTW for either ROC or IND until Sunday, so I would just be stuck in the airport until the end of the weekend, and I could only try standby for one or the other flight since they were departing at the same time and, of course, the gates were nowhere near each other.

So I picked the standby flight to ROC, hoping to salvage this weekend with my significant other, and luckily I got a seat. Hooray! I arrived at the airport and then spent about an hour waiting at baggage claim while she waited outside in the car. Generally, I don't check bags, but this time I was transporting something I couldn't carry on (a collapsible snow shovel for her car).

Well, my bag never showed up, so we went back to her place and waited it out with only the clothes on my back. Saturday came and went, and it wasn't until Sunday afternoon that my checked luggage showed up, just in time for me to leave the next morning. Oh yeah, and the bag's exterior was now cracked.


17. It's too complicated.

I don't remember the date, but it was maybe June 2006, the day a chain of thunderstorms hit all of the Ohio Valley, East Coast and parts of the Mid West. It was also the 'first day' of the new passenger scheduling program implemented by about 3/4 of the airlines, and IT DID NOT WORK!

I was first in line at the ticket counter to make sure I got my ticket changed to a later flight, as my scheduled flight was grounded due to bad weather (it could not leave ATL to fly to Dulles). I picked a flight sufficiently later for the storm to have passed, and they gave me some lip service, using the STORM, as an excuse, that they couldn't rebook my ticket, which I knew wasn’t true. I also figured out, it was a problem with their software (been in the computer industry & read about the switch date), so I asked for a supervisor, to get a bigger lie told to me, same story, SO, I became that guy everybody hates, and told them I refused to move aside for the next customer, cause if the software came back online, and the storm passed, I wanted the first available seat, which, I knew I would lose the second I moved from that spot. This brought groans from the people in the line behind me, so I asked the supervisor to guarantee me a seat, even a jets 'pilot jump sheet', or I would tell everyone in line what the real problems was. He fretted around for a few minutes, and finally gave me a boarding pass of some sort, and I went down to the leaving gate for about 2 hours. Only people with pre printed boarding passes, and e tickets were able to make that flight, which was the first one out of Dulles. With fewer people on board, and that jump seat pass, I moved to first class... I have always thought the supervisor might have given me a bogus boarding pass, but it was legit.

I only made such a big stink because I was going to my older brothers wedding in Minnesota, and I never take time off from work, so it was a double header in terms of unfairness to get bumped off a plane that day.


16. If it's not one thing, it's another.

I was flying from Glasgow to London on EasyJet. A 50-minute flight.

So we leave the gate half an hour late, ok, no biggie. The plane taxis to the waiting point just off the runway, by which point we still haven't had the safety instructions and the cabin crew look concerned. We sit there for 10 minutes while they are doing something up front when finally an announcement comes on:

"There has been a problem with the cabin control system, please bear with us while we contact head office for help."

Another 10 minutes pass, and there's another announcement.

"We have resolved the issue, however, we no longer have enough fuel and will have to taxi back to the gate".

It takes about 15 minutes to finally get back to the gate, before another announcement.

"We have been informed that there will be a half hour delay getting fuel due to higher than expected demand."

An hour and a half later the plane finally takes off - we fly to Gatwick without incident, but upon landing the plane simply pulls over and parks on the apron, with another announcement:

"Our assigned gate has been taken, we have to wait for another to open up."

An hour later, we finally make it to the gate, only to be put on buses, which then sit by the plane for about 15 minutes longer than they needed to.

So that's how a 50-minute journey turned into a 5 hour one.

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15. How rude.

I'm a bigger guy, so airline travel is hard. I usually buy two tickets so I don't put anybody out. On the last plane trip I've ever been on, this woman asked me to move seats so she could sit with her sister. I politely told her I didn't want to. I bought two seats together so I wouldn't put anybody else there. I even used that machine when I came into the airport and worked with the teller to ensure I had two seats together. I'm much bigger than average and I don't expect businesses to accommodate my choice of lifestyle.

She threw a fit and sat down in her aisle seat and proceeded to have a loud conversation with her sister on the other end of the plane about how rude people were and how ridiculous it was that I was being stingy with my seats. I even showed her my tickets to prove these were my seats. Luckily the most beautiful hostess I've ever seen named Cheyenne came up and asked her to please refrain from disturbing passengers and moved her to another seat in the back and moved her sister back there too so they could be hateful together. Cheyenne then sat next to me when she was able to and we talked the whole trip to New Jersey. She even brought me a Coke (flat but the thought was nice). This was a trip from Oklahoma to New Jersey so I'm not sure if most people from New Jersey are nuts, but I'll never go back there again.


14. Sick And tired.

I travel a lot for work, mostly intercontinental, so lost luggage, theft, seriously delayed flights, a plane struck by lightning, missed connections, I've had them all and always make certain I have a decent survival kit (personal and work) in my hand luggage these days.

My worst experiences have involved other passengers, to be honest. The worst was a couple of years ago when I was at the end of a very, very long haul from Argentina to Holland and I was doing a final leg from Amsterdam back to London.

I boarded the aircraft, and there was a small American child bouncing up and down excitedly in the middle seat, and his morbidly obese mother in my window seat, overflowing the armrests.

I was jetlagged and also slightly ill, having caught a dose of mild food poisoning in Mendoza before I left, so I was not very receptive. Anyway, I said to her, politely; "Excuse me, you're in my seat."

"Oh, it's my little boy, he so loves to look at the airplanes."

"Yes, but you are in my seat, not him."

"That's so I can hold him up. Will you trade seats?"

"I have been traveling for nearly 24 hours. I am not feeling well. I like to look out of the window at aircraft as well. If you don't get out of my seat now, I'll ask one of the cabin crew to make you get out."

"Well, there's no need to be rude!"

"You started it."

Thank God it was only a 45-minute flight. She humphed and squirmed and harrumphed the whole way to London.


13. Nice guys spend the night in the airport.

I was flying from MSP to Denver. There was a winter storm so I would be late. Fine. I called the shuttle ahead of time and they said they could pick me up and bring me to my hotel in Breck even though it was going to be really late at night. Great!

Well, since I really wasn't in a hurry, I let everyone go in line before me at the airline desk so they could correct their connecting flights.

I mean, I was at my destination. It stinks pretty badly when you miss your connection, so I was being totally empathetic to their urgency. It was more important than mine because I already had my travel connection in place. Right?

Well, by the time I got to the front of the line, the airline baggage handlers shift ended.

My skis were locked in holding and there was NO ONE, NO WAY, NO HOW, I could get my skis.

By the time I complained and did everything I could to get my skis, I still couldn't get my skis and I missed the shuttle anyway plus HWY 70 was closed.

So I had to spend the night in the airport.

What I learned: It doesn't pay to be nice. Airports specifically put arm rests on chairs to prevent people from sleeping or laying across the chairs, and Denver airport does a heck of a lot of floor cleaning over night.


12. Better early than never.

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 to the GTA 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 this was going to be serious.

We were screaming through the sky. Climbed steeper than I ever have, stayed at high throttle the whole way. We land 40 minutes early and practically skid into the jet bridge. We were the last flight allowed to land that day.

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11. Seizure in the air.

I was coming into land at Dulles (Washington DC), and the guy in the opposite aisle starts groaning really loudly. Immediately I turn to look, and he's not just groaning - he's wailing, his body is convulsing, and he's smashing his head into the chair directly in front of him. The passenger next to him is terrified.

Now, I'm a medical journalist, pharmacy grad, and I've done a load of first aid courses, so I know what's going on here. Someone starts yelling for someone to stick something in his mouth - and that's the worst thing you can do if someone is having a seizure. Instead, as horrible as it sounds, the best thing to do is let the seizure go.

So, I yell "NO!" at that, to make it clear, then calmly get someone to signal for the flight attendant, and ask if there's something soft to use to cushion him.

Now, this is a bit of a strange situation because the guy having the seizure is already restrained by the seatbelt - it's scary. So the best thing to do was use this oversized teddy bear someone had (it was Valentine's Day) to cushion the guy's head, and get that in place. The stewardess is trying to help, dropping off a medkit, and puts a call out for a nurse or doctor. So there's me, the stewardess, and a nurse, unbuckled, coming in on a priority emergency landing at Dulles, the plane is at a crazy landing angle, and I'm straddling the aisle trying to stop this guy from hurting his head with a giant teddy bear.

As soon as the nurse arrived I stopped, because her expertise trumped my very basic skills. The guy was OK - bewildered and covered in fluids, but the EMTs got him off.

Anyway, all of that meant I was late for my flight to the UK. So I ended up having to sprint the entire length of Dulles' terminal (and it's a LOOOOONG terminal) to make the flight. I did it with five minutes to go, covered in sweat and exhausted.

I couldn't sleep on the flight home after that. It was about midnight EST when it was all done, and I was sweaty from the run, and a little shocked by what the heck I'd just been involved in.


1o. This is what headphones are for.

I had a lady sitting behind and across the aisle from me and my girlfriend on a ten-hour flight. We'd spent the whole weekend together already and were flying to the States for leave. Both of us were enjoying our time being alone, but together. I'm reading a book on my phone, she's listening to music.

This lady leans forward and taps my shoulder and asks me to open her soda for her. I oblige. A minute later. Tap tap. I politely turn around, she starts with, "I think something is lost." Then just goes into this long-winded spiel about how in her day she'd have been so excited to be with her boyfriend. Cuddling, kissing, talking. I point out that we've been together every second of the last 48 hours, we're just fine. She disagrees wholeheartedly.

I disengage, turn back, get a page or two into my book. Tap tap.

I turn around again, she starts bending my ear again about "Today's youth" and how we're just too busy to talk to each other. Segues into the life stories of her children. Every time I turn away, I get that tap tap again.

This goes on for almost an hour. I can't get a word in at all. We move from the topic of her family to the problems with our country. Finally, it's escalating. You know when someone starts trying to ease you into something, build you up with a few statements that everyone would agree with, then tie it into some crazy thing to try to get you to agree?

Yeah, that's where we were going. And it finally ended on a derogatory comment about people of colour.

I finally told her I'd had enough, I wasn't going to support that kind of talk, and I'd appreciate if she kept that to herself. I was finally able to enjoy my flight in peace.


9. 9/11 was as bad in the air as it was on the ground.

It's 9/11/2001. I'm flying from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Cleveland, Ohio. Just as we are about to board the plane someone in line says something like "a Cessna just crashed into the world trade center." Though a bit troubling most people were just focused on getting on the plane and didn't pay it much mind.

We taxi to the runway and take off like normal. I have my head buried in a book so I'm not really paying much attention to what is going on, though I did notice we didn't get to altitude which I thought was weird. I think we stayed at maybe 10,000 feet rather than going up to 30,000. My flight was direct into Cleveland. We cruised along at 10,000 feet for 20-30 minutes. The pilot came over the intercom and said: "The FAA has closed all U.S. airspace, we're landing at Chicago O'Hare."

Well now everyone on the plane is getting nervous. I really had no idea what the heck was going on. Maybe there was a big accident or maybe a plane was in the air and got hijacked? We land at O'Hare and while looking out the window all I could see was chaos. Planes were everywhere. Stacked up at the gates, on the access runways leading to the takeoff runway. I'd never seen so many planes on the ground before.

People started getting on their phones and slowly information started spreading through the plane that we were under some sort of attack. We thought this meant that someone had launched a military attack of some sort, like jet fighters, missiles etc. I'm totally confused as to what is going on. Of course, my cell phone was dead, but it probably wouldn't have mattered if it was charged because people were having a difficult time getting through on their phones.

After about an hour waiting we were able to get off the plane at the gate. The scene inside was just total panic. I remember seeing national guard soldiers there with their rifles, dogs etc. Over the intercom, they were repeating "please leave Chicago O'Hare airport as soon as possible." I overheard people saying that the attack was coming to Chicago.

I have two small kids at home and a wife. I'm stuck at O'Hare with what I thought at the time was an imminent attack. I left my luggage behind and got out to the front of the airport. I managed to stop a guy driving a rental car shuttle bus and asked if he knew if there were any cars available. He said, "buddy nothing is available, but hop on I'll take you with me so you're not stuck here."

On the ride to the rental car facility, I'm racking my brain to try to figure out how to get out of Chicago. There are no rental cars available, flights are shut down, I was sure trains wouldn't be an option either. Then it hit me... I knew what to do. I asked the rental car driver for some directions on where I needed to go and started walking.

I walked for about 20-30 minutes or so and found what I was looking for. U-Haul. I rented a U-Haul truck and drove all the way back to Ohio.

And that's my worst airline travel story.

8. Everyone has to suffer.

On a flight from D.C. to San Diego I was in the window seat which I love but it was night time. My music player had just died about 45 minutes into the flight with no other form of entertainment. Bored out of my mind I try to sleep but can not. The man next to me is a very Russian guy who has gift cards from the airline. Something like $300 and he spent it all on drinks. His entire tray was filled with those little bottles. He drinks it all and gets very loud in a thick Russian accent about how bad America is. Now I'm mad because I'm bored and he is being belligerent. I finally fall asleep.

For maybe 20 minutes before I get woken up by him being sick all over the tray in front of him, his lap, and my lap. I'm the type of person if I hear/see that stuff I gag and want to puke. So here I am with some strangers spew on me with 4 hours left in the flight. The flight attendant helped him get cleaned up and sees the puke on me and me just looking almost straight up gagging. She feels so sorry and she moves me somewhere else on the plane. As I sit down there is an older lady who is mad that I had been puked on because you know it's my fault and I'm a disgusting human being. I smelled bad even after trying to get cleaned up.

This lady (maybe 50) was of the upper class type it seemed. I'm just a small town guy. I take out my can of chewing tobacco and she gets mad and tells me I'm disgusting and that tobacco isn't allowed on planes. She tells the flight attendant that I need to be kicked off the plane for contraband or something maybe thinking they would just throw me out the door while flying I don't know. The flight attendant politely tells her that I am doing nothing wrong. Especially because when I fly I try to hide my spit cup/bottle so people don't have to see it. She just won't drop it though and finally, I had enough. The rest of the flight I get my cup in my hand closest to her and when I would spit I made sure to look directly at her and be as loud as possible without disrupting others around us. Just her. She was very upset with me but you know what? Whatever. My flight was way worse.

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7. Sleep is important.

In the late 90s-Early Aughts, I was a IT consultant and traveled every week, 5-days a week. I was living in NYC and got assigned to a contract in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii is a great place to be on vacation, but not a great place to work a contract. It's a 13 hour flight from NYC, and I was only allowed to go home every other weekend.

So one weekend, a few months into this contract, I was flying home and the travel agent had messed up. Honolulu-Seattle-Memphis-NYC-LaGuardia... a Northwest Airline horrific adventure.

So I get on the plane in Hawaii in the evening, and as an air-warrior, I was upgraded to first class the whole way. Touch down in Sea-TAC around 4-5 AM, and I stumble off one plane, slept most of the way from HI, and onto the next.

Another plane, first class, and I'm in the first row, on the window. I'm passed out before we taxi because I have a gift. Some time later, over the Rockies, my neighbor, a very nice, older woman shakes my arm to wake me.

"We've lost an engine, we're going down!!!" she exclaims.

"And you woke me up why???" was literally my answer. This response gives me hope that I might one day be cool.

Turns out we lost one of the engines of our Airbus, landed perfectly fine, and then got to spend 14-hours in Montana at a tiny airport with one little bar that I got to know intimately. Missoula, Montana, I will always love you.


6. No man left behind.

One time I was doing a flight and in the cockpit, we normally need a "cabin secure" message from the cabin crew before we land. This to ensure everybody is seated and there's no loose carts or anything when we touch down.

Anyway, this time, we're getting super close to where we need to be, and the cabin is not secure yet.

The lead flight attendant calls us and lets us know a passenger is in the lavatory and refuses to come out. No reason given. At this point we're minutes away from landing, so, the cabin crew unlocks the lavatory door from the outside (which is very easy to do, if you know how).

They find this dude still sitting on the toilet, with fluids everywhere.

At this point we're on final approach. We can't land with a passenger in the toilet, but, we can't send the poor guy back to his seat either.

Rules be damned, we ask the guy if he's OK with us landing while he's in the toilet. He is.

Minutes later we're on the ground. Smooth landing. We let everyone off before him, then got him some towels from the cleaners for the poor guy to clean himself up a bit.


5. Cover your mouth.

I was on a flight from New York City to Los Angeles with my father. We are seated on opposite sides of the aisle toward the back of the plane (I'm on the aisle seat on the right side and he is on the aisle seat on the left side). Everyone starts to take their seats. Interestingly, I am left with an empty one next to me. Not for long. I see a woman, who I assumed was paralyzed, being wheeled in my direction. I politely stood up because I knew she was going to take the seat next to mine. After the airline staff had transferred her from the wheelchair to the seat next to me, they went back to tending other passengers.

About 10 minutes later we lifted off for our eight-hour flight. Fast forward a few hours, and we are beginning to fly over Colorado when the lady next to me starts having a coughing fit. Now, this isn't your normal "cough a few times a minute" thing, this is the hard cough of someone who is in pain. As I sit there uncomfortable, she begins to moan about how much pain she is in. It's then when I notice all of the color has drained from her face and her eyes are barely open.


So is she paralyzed? I thought to myself. I got up and let her in after she returned. That's when the loud pain filled groans began. She started screaming "I need to lay down! I need to lay down right now!" So the flight attendants took this woman to the back of the plane (only a few rows behind our seats) and help her over the counter. This was the best they could provide her, yet I could still hear her groans from my seat.

My dad told me that I should expect to have an emergency landing in Denver so this woman could be given medical attention. That landing never came. When we finally reached LAX the plane was taken to the side and stopped for a good 20 minutes before anything happened. That's when the men in gas masks and suits that had the logo for the Department of Health walked toward her. I was very off-put at this point but it gets worse.

Two men with briefcases walk behind them (also in masks) and I began vigorously shaking my dad's arm. "Did you see what it said on the briefcase?! Did you see?!" He said no. It said "CDC Emergency response team." Five minutes later they carried her out and the captain said that we were free to go. My dad was not okay leaving without an explanation so he asked the captain when we got to the front of the plane what happened. The captain said that she had just flown in from Africa and the CDC had to make sure she didn't have a fever. That was it. I knew then I was done for. Miraculously nothing happened, but it was so scary. I never knew what became of that woman.


4. A smell you'll never forget.

I was flying from Bangkok to New Zealand. My dad was a little pale before we boarded the flight but we figured he was just tired. I was 14 at the time and I fell asleep half an hour in and woke up a few hours later to absolute panic. I had no idea what was going on but the smell that I woke up to was the worst I've ever smelt. Even ten years later, it is still the worst smell I have ever encountered. I just remember looking over to my dad and there was blood everywhere. That's what the smell was. Blood.

We got moved to first class (not as exciting under these conditions) and some rich dude wearing snakeskin was more than happy to leave to give up the room. I thought that was pretty nice of him. I sat on one side and my father and mother were kind of towards the back away from me on the other side. A doctor came in too (luckily) and was assisting.

Flight attendants were consoling me and telling me everything was going to be OK, but I looked over their shoulders out of curiosity and saw my dad sitting on the window seat, not looking great at all. We left the plane as soon as we touched down and since we didn't go through any security we had our bags quickly checked in some sort of holding room. I fainted because there were so many people in the room. Also THAT SMELL!! Then we all went to the hospital. My brother was getting married the next day so we all went and visited my dad after - even the bride - it was pretty cool. He turned out to have a ulcer in his stomach. My dad recovered.

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3. What's in the box?

A US Airways agent at check-in put me in tears. I was checking in a box of personal items that happened to originally be for an air compressor or something like that. The outside of the box advertised this, and I could tell she didn't like the look of it. She asked what was in it and I told her it was personal stuff, including a couple of blankets and speakers. I've never had an agent ask what was in my bag or box before. They ask if you packed the luggage yourself and if you packed anything you're not allowed to have, like flammable stuff, etc., but never what specifically is in it.

She told me that the speakers weren't allowed on board. They were small speakers (like 4 inches high) with a small subwoofer, and I'd flown with them before, which I told her. She wasn't having it and made me open the box. She took a look at them and said I couldn't check them in or take them on board, with no further explanation.

I am not good with confrontation. I was annoyed, and the other agents at the counter weren't saying anything! I was the only passenger there at the time, and they just watched our interaction, and I knew I wasn't in the wrong. The problem is, when I get mad with stuff like that I just become rude, so instead of staying calm and saying something like "can I talk to your manager?" or even finding out her name so I could report her, I just swore under my breath, trying not to cry. It was really embarrassing, and I've flown my whole life so I just felt stupid that I was so helpless.

She made me leave the speakers on some podium at the beginning of the check in line, and then I went through security. I was pretty much in tears at this point, and then TSA pulled me out because I had a tube of oversized sunscreen in my carry-on. I remembered I had it, so I told the TSA agent where it was, and then I asked him if it was true I couldn't fly with my speakers. He said no, speakers are fine, and I told him my story. He said it was TSA who makes the decisions, so I asked if I could take them on board and he said that it was fine.

So the only good part of the story is I went back and got my speakers that were still on the podium. I wanted to confront the lady but there was a line by that point, and I didn't want to miss my flight.

I wrote a complaint to US Airways but unfortunately, I didn't have the agent's name. I'm sure nothing happened anyway.

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2. The flight was deathly quiet.

I 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 closer to the back row 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 think she was screaming a name or a cry for help. I believe it was her husband, since he was unconscious and wasn't responding.

The flight attendants came by, and they 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. They were applying CPR to him literally right next to my sister who was sitting on the other side of the aisle from me. They kept trying but nothing worked. He passed away from heart failure; 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 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 had been.

So for the remainder of the flight, there I was, sitting in the seat of a man who had just passed away. While he was buckled into the seat I was previously in. It was a really strange feeling, not comforting at all. Because of our positioning, turning the plane around wouldn't have mattered. We were hours from anywhere we could get medical help. It's frightening to be in a situation where you know no aid is coming. I hope the family found some peace.

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1. Painful prayer session.

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

Cue to the flight attendants announcing to the passengers to fasten our seat belts. The two people on either side of me started freaking out because they couldn't find their seat belts. I tried telling them they were probably sitting on them, but they just panicked 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 shouts.

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 to find the seatbelt. I had no choice but to reach under her, free the seatbelt, reach over, and fasten it for her. She 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 him too. They were both sweaty. I got some of the sweat on me.

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.

I mean, they were sweet people initially. They were worried 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 a drink so I could pass out. (This was a more innocent time when most non-American airlines would 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 them yes, and after that I was left alone.

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