Frequent Fliers Share Their Worst Experiences On An Airplane.

Flying usually isn't a barrel of monkeys, unless you're some kind of billionaire who owns a private jet with a jacuzzi. But these people got a little bit more than their fair share of grief.

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This piece is based on AskReddit threads. Links on the last page.


1. The very worst day to be in the air.

This happened on 9/11. I was flying from Cedar Rapids to Cleveland.

We taxi to the runway and take off like normal. Pretty soon, I noticed we hadnt reached cruising altitude. I think we stayed at about 10,000 feet. We stayed there for about half an hour. Then the pilot came over the intercom and said, "The FAA has closed all US airspace, we're landing at Chicago O'Hare."

Well now everyone on the plane got nervous. We land at O'Hare and looking out the window all I could see was chaos. 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.

After about an hour of waiting, we were able to get off plane at the gate. 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 had 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."

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On the ride to the rental car facility I'm racking my brain to try to figure out how to get the hell out of Chicago. 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 that thing all the way back to Ohio.

That was my worst flight ever.

tryns

2. Backseat flier.

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 home. 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. Asks me to open her soda for her. I oblige. A minute later. Tap tap. I politely turn around, she starts with, "Let me tell you something about you." (continued...)


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Then she 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. 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 stuff to try and get you to agree?

Yeah, that's where we were going. And it finally ended on, "it's the fault of the Blacks and the Mexicans."

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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. She shut her yap after that.

Velkyn01

3. Losing my luggage is bad enough...

An airline lost our two daughters at the Atlanta airport, even though we had paid extra for stewardess escorts. We were freaking out and they didn't even bother to apologize.

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When we got mad at them for losing our children, the airline staff actually behaved as though we were the nuisance! We finally found them after two-and-a-half hours in the airport lounge. Someone had taken them there and just left them.

Anonymous

4. Stranger with candy.

I was about eight years old. Due to some issue or another with our tickets, the four of us - myself, my younger brother, my mother, and my father - had been seated in seemingly random spots throughout the airplane, and none of us were next to each other. This would have been fine if it hadn't been for the fact that my neighbor was a chatty Cathy.

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Within moments of sitting down next to this woman, she'd done her best to engage me in conversation. I knew that I wasn't supposed to speak to strangers, and thus her friendly small-talk made me very uncomfortable.

About midway through the flight, she dug through her purse and pulled out a small package of something, which she opened with a nonchalant smile.

"Max," she said to me, "would you like a very special candy?" (continued...)


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She held up a medicinal cough drop and offered it to me.

Alarm bells rang in my head like they never had before. My mother had always told me that any stranger who offered me medicine was gearing up to do some very nasty things to me. Maybe, though, just maybe, the girl didn't realize that cough drops were medicine, and was simply one of those people who ate them for their flavor.

"Oh, no, no thank you," I replied. "I'm not sick or anything."

"Okay!" the girl said brightly.

"... Are you sick?" I asked, hoping to prod the conversation forward.

The young woman shook her head. "Nope!"

I felt the panic in my chest start to subside. "Then why are you eating cough drops? They're medicine, you know."

"Oh, I know!" the girl said with a laugh. "But they help me relax. They make you feel funny."

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So not only was this stranger talking to me, but she was also one of those people who ate medicine for fun... and she was trying to offer some to an eight year old!

I spent the rest of the flight in complete silence, all the while ready to scream if the petite seventeen-year-old next to me showed any signs of attempting a kidnapping.

RamsesThePigeon

5. We've all got baggage.

Flew to Scotland from Australia. They left our luggage behind on the stopover because they were running late. We had no communication from the airline when we arrived, and were not reimbursed at all. Then they delivered our luggage to another passenger. They finally got it delivered to us 6 days into our 15 day trip.

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We flew home and discovered they had done the exact same thing again. It took three days to get it back the second time. So I guess thats an improvement.

scarletmanuka

6. Defying gravity.

Flew to Scotland from Australia. They left our luggage behind on the stopover because they were running late. We had no communication from the airline when we arrived, and were not reimbursed at all. Then they delivered our luggage to another passenger. They finally got it delivered to us 6 days into our 15 day trip.

We flew home and discovered they had done the exact same thing again. It took three days to get it back the second time. So I guess thats an improvement. (continued...)


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I dont know why, but I remained completely unmoved; no panic, no tears. I thought, This is how it ends. I didnt think it would end like this. I felt ready to die.

Then, suddenly, it was over. I dont know how long our "uncontrolled descent lasted. Like all intensely stressful situations (car accidents, combat, small childrens 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.

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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 ones arms. Werent 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.

coldfarm

7. Rock me like a hurricane.

Flew from Ohio to Charlotte, NC. During the flight, a hurricane unexpectedly turned hard inland and made landfall. No air traffic was permitted to land, everywhere 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 30,000ft was completely clogged.

Instead we were forced to circle the airport, 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 turbulence that would make a 70-year-old sailor wet himself.

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 was 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 who kissed him until we forgot about the hurricane and started to feel slightly uncomfortable for him.

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8. "Is there a doctor onboard?"

Coming in to 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. (continued...)


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The passenger next to him is freaked out and 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 perverse 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.

Now, this is a bit of a strange situation because the guy having the seizure is already restrained by the seatbelt. So the best thing to do was use this oversized teddy bear someone had 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 drilling his head through the wall with a giant teddy bear.

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

mrcchapman

9. Over/under.

I was 15 or 16 and flying across the country for the first time by myself. My mom had wanted to treat me, so she splurged and bought me a ticket with extra leg room. Because of that, I got one of the front seats with no storage room. So the "nice" fight 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.

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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 any more and neither did the fan. I ended up having to buy a new computer.

PandaObsession

10. Slippery slopes.

Flying from MSP to Denver. Winter storm, I would be late. Fine. I called the shuttle ahead of time and they could pick me up and bring me to my hotel 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. What could go wrong? (continued...)


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It sucks 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 them out.

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By the time I begged and moaned and did everything I could to get my skis, I was still empty-handed and I missed my shuttle.

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 laying across the chairs, and Denver airport does a hell of a lot of floor cleaning over night.

Stabfacenotback

11. Big air.

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 make anybody else uncomfortable. Im much bigger than average and I don't expect businesses to accommodate my choice of lifestyle.

This woman 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. Luckily the kindest hostess I've ever met 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.

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The hostess 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.

Sumuran

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When you're a kid most adults will tell you one thing or another is "cool" and "fun." Odds are you're too young to form any kind of opinion on the matter one way or another. You're a kid, right? You don't know what you're eating for breakfast. However, when you get older and form that larger worldview, you realize that yeah, maybe that one time when you were a kid actually wasn't fun.

These are those stories.

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