January 24, 2023 | Eul Basa

Horrible Flight Stories

Most flights I go on seem to go off without a hitch. These unlucky Redditors, on the other hand, managed to witness the worst of the worst. There’s crabby, snapping flight attendants, shamelessly misbehaving passengers and—worst of all—terrifying equipment malfunction. Here’s my advice: keep your feet firmly on the ground and enjoy these stories that, thankfully, happened to somebody else.

1. We’re In Serious Trouble

I was on a flight from San Francisco to Cincinnati when I heard an utterly chilling sound over the speakers. The pilot suddenly screamed into mic: "Denver, we're in serious trouble up here. I need..." The mic suddenly turned off, and we all realized that the pilot had forgotten to turn off the main cabin speakers. Soon after the announcement, we started to drop out of the sky.

Bags and people were flying everywhere. We all thought we were doomed. Somehow, we cruised through the storm and eventually it became smooth again. The pilot later announced that he was sorry about the mistaken overhead announcement. The scariest thing of the whole flight, however, was hearing the pilot's panicked voice scream that announcement.


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2. Is That My Hand?

On a redeye flight, just as I fell asleep, a woman passed out in the middle of the aisle and hit my leg. I was so doped up on Dramamine I didn't even realize it and fell back asleep. The flight attendants put an oxygen tank on the floor and put the tank mask over her mouth. Apparently they used my hand to hold it in place, so when I woke up a few minutes later, I was like "Why am I holding an oxygen mask over someone's face?"


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3. Leopard Lady Looking For Loo

I was on a flight from San Francisco to San Antonio, Texas back in the late 90s. The plane I was flying on was smaller, so it had just one flight attendant station near the middle of the plane. It was small, only the size of one row of seats, and also had an emergency exit. A line had begun to form for the bathroom, and after some time was all the way back to where I was sitting, which was an aisle seat.

As more people began to get in line, I noticed an older woman waiting in line, dressed head to toe in leopard print. Hat, jacket, gloves, pants, shoes...all leopard print. At first, I was just amused by her outfit, but then I noticed that the line had dissipated and she was still there. Even worse, she was now standing in the flight attendant station staring out the window of the emergency exit.

All of a sudden, I see her body jerk up and down. Then again, and again. I lean forward to try and see what she is doing when I see her leopard print gloves holding onto the emergency exit handle. At that moment, it hit me. She is trying to open the exit door. Until that moment, I had never experienced a rush of panic quite that overpowering. Visions of me and my family being sucked out the door was all I could think about.

Of course, my first thought was to stop her immediately. But first, I fumbled with my seat belt and tightened it as much as I could bear. Then I leaned over, and politely—how I didn't scream at her, I will never know—asked if she was trying to find the bathroom. She replied, "Well, yes....but the door won't open."

I told her it was at the back of the plane, and she wandered off completely unaware of the fact that she scared the wits out of me.


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4. On A Road To Nowhere

So we're flying out of Cleveland and the pilot comes over the PA and gives his welcome. It was the usual “blah blah blah” and then something not so usual: "So we're just leaving Cleveland, we should be in...ummm" and then slightly under his breath—but not quiet enough that everyone else didn't hear—he says "...where are we going?" A long pause followed by: “Chicago!" Everyone laughed.


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5. Partner Punches Over Pad

I witnessed a big fight on a 767 over the Atlantic Ocean once whilst en route from London Gatwick to Barbados. That was pretty fun to deal with as the only male steward. The fight began following an argument after the woman broke her partner's iPod. He wasn't happy about it, so he had a row—which developed into a full blown punch-up.

Later, I found out the bizarre truth about the couple. They had never met before, or at least until earlier that day. Apparently he’d spotted her in London and liked what he saw. He randomly asked her if she wanted to come to the Caribbean on a free holiday. Stranger still, she said yes to this guy she didn’t even know.

Thankfully, they both began to behave once I told them that we will divert the flight and the nearest diversion airport was in the USA. In the US they take that kind of stuff seriously, and I told them that straight out. We obviously had to keep them apart, and we let the authorities deal with them once we'd landed in Barbados.


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6. I Heard A Loud Thud

On a flight from Maui to Dallas, I was half-asleep in the second-to-last row of the plane. While I was listening to music and dozing, I suddenly heard a really loud, hard "thud" next to me. I look over, and there's a man lying on the ground, completely still. I thought maybe he’d tripped, but the flight attendant came running and he was unresponsive.

The flight attendant frantically ran up and down the aisles asking for doctors. Luckily for him, the flight was full of vacationing doctors and nurses, all of them in ridiculous clothes. Two of the doctors who came back were in Hawaiian shirts and golf attire, and the female nurse who came back was wearing a very strappy, revealing blue Hawaiian print dress.

The doctors tried to wake the man up, but he was gone. I was surprised to find out just how much medical equipment they have on commercial flights. The doctors whipped out a portable defibrillator and shocked the guy. Then set up an IV drip for him. I never heard a word out of him or saw him move. I’m not sure if he actually woke up or not.

Our flight was diverted to LA, and when we landed half a dozen EMT personnel ran on the plane to pull the guy out on a gurney. Unfortunately for me, this whole scenario set off a panic attack, and I had to go find a nice spot in the aisle to lay down so that I didn't pass out and cause more problems for the crew and doctors. It was embarrassing.


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7. This Guy Was Flying Solo

While waiting to use the bathroom on the way to Panama, the door somehow opened by itself. I look in the cubicle and what I saw sent chills down my spine. There is a guy quite obviously pleasuring himself. He was hunched over the toilet. It wasn’t a pretty sight: not at all. At first I couldn't believe what I actually saw. As he turned his head to see the door come open, the most awkward eye contact moment of my life unfolded.

He turned to shut the door in a panicked fashion exposing his junk. At that point my shocked face became encrusted into my facial features for the rest of the flight and even the next day. So, since that time I can hardly use any bathroom on a plane. I'd rather just hold it in than see another sight like that one. All because one guy forgot to use the lock on the restroom.


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8. He Was No Ordinary Doctor

I was taking a business flight to Chicago when about halfway through the flight a man was walking back to the lavatory but completely passed out and hit the floor next to my aisle seat. People started chattering and calling for help. Suddenly, this guy pops out of First Class and says: "Don't worry, I'm a doctor" and assesses the situation like a boss. No lie: it was Dr. Oz.


Awful Flight MomentsFlickr, David Berkowitz

9. Awkward Conversation: Extended Version

Over the past spring break, I was flying back home from college after classes in the morning. As I got into the airport, I saw one of my professors in the airport. Coincidentally, I’d just got out of his class a few hours ago. I thought it might help my grade if I tried to talk to him. So, I went over and tried to strike up a conversation. It was the most awkward 10 minutes of my life.

Trying to make conversation with a 50-year-old professor was painful. I then got onto my flight and sure enough I saw my professor sitting all the way back in the flight. I looked at my boarding pass and it said "25E", which was relatively a low number, and I was pretty sure I would not end up sitting next to him. But every row of seats I passed my heart started beating faster and faster.

I thought to myself: there is no way I could be sitting next to my professor. If it did happen I would kill myself—especially after the awkward conversation we had. Sure enough I ended up sitting right next to him. Then and there began the strangest, most awkward flight of my life. At first I pretended to sleep, so that I did not have to talk. But I could not fall asleep.

So, I thought, "What would be the worst that could happen?" At first I told him that I was a computer science major and he showed me how he had set up a virtual linux box in his windows and seemed pretty excited. But soon the conversation started to shift and before I knew it he started talking about a trip to Egypt he’d taken and some women he’d met there. That’s when things got weird.

This is exactly what he said about these women in Egypt: "They are all covered up in clothes from head to toe. You could not see how they looked until you paid them. It was like Christmas presents, once you open them you cannot return them. " I was stunned by his description of women for hire in Egypt.

He then added, "Of course, I don't know if this is true, one of my ‘friends’ told me this." This was the longest four hours of my life.


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10. I’m Sorry For The Inconvenience

On a flight a few weeks ago the flight attendants started to make preparations for landing: telling people to put their trays up and what not. I suddenly noticed the flight attendant loudly speaking to a man in his late 20s or maybe early 30s sitting two rows in front of me. "Sir! You need to put your seat back up. Sir! Sir?"

The guy starts spitting blood and convulsing. It sounded like he was choking on the blood with each gasp of air. Flight attendant starts screaming for help and they make an announcement over the PA for a doctor. Four passengers and all flight attendants leap into action. It turns out the lady in the row between me and the sick man is a nurse.

Together they get him laid out on the row with his head in the aisle. He's not responding to their questions and he's fading in and out of consciousness. We make an emergency landing (20 minutes ahead of schedule). As we are taxiing he regains consciousness and tells the flight attendant holding his head that he's sorry for the trouble.

We land, paramedics meet the plane and carry him off. He seemed to be stable but I hope everything worked out for the guy.


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11. What Is That?

I used to travel internationally a lot when I was younger and working for a telecom company designing new infrastructure. On one of the trips as we were heading to China. At one point, I casually looked out the window. I think we were above Alaska and the Bering Strait somewhere, and the horizon had a huge slice of black.

It looked like some weird wedge shaped cloud that encompassed half the horizon. It was a bright day on the ground or sea below us. The ice was very bright and white, but there was this giant dark wedge encompassing and seeming to take over the earth as you looked out to the horizon. I had the guys next to me look out and take a look, they were confused at first too.

I was really confused for a few minutes, then I realized what I was looking at.

It was night. We were flying in such a manner that we were surfing the edge of daytime and nighttime at about 10,000 m (35000 ft) and at that moment if you looked out over the horizon you saw daytime fading into night.


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12. Oops, Didn’t See You There

I was on a flight from Amsterdam to New York City one time and there was a kid who was running up and down the aisles trying to bite people. As he was heading down the aisle at full speed, a stewardess suddenly pulled the refreshments cart into the aisle right in front of it and he ran smack into it face first. She said to him "Oh, sorry, didn't see you coming. You shouldn't run like that down the aisle." or something like that.

I know she did that on purpose. It was awesome.


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13. Have A Nice Day

This was not on a plane, but in the security line. There were about 10 people in front of my family in the line, and a guy ran past the metal detector. Of course, it goes off, but the guy doesn't stop running. I couldn't tell what one of the security men yelled, but he yelled it three times. Instead of stopping the guy, all the guards and people behind the desks run into two rooms and close the doors behind them.

They left all us passengers standing there freaking out. A minute or two passes, a ding goes over the PA system, everyone comes out of the rooms. That’s when I learned the disturbing truth. The PA system says: “Thanks for being cooperative during our drill, and have a nice day." Apparently the protocol is to leave all the passengers to die while the staff remain safe at airport check ins.


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14. There’s No Class Like First Class

I was once on a flight from London to NYC in first class: there truly is nothing like it. We got a salad before the main course, as I started eating, I noticed my lettuce was moving. I used my fork to inspect the situation, and it turns out there was a spider in my salad. I didn't want to cause a panic so I quietly alerted the stewardess and she nearly shrieked.

She apologized and offered me a bottle of bubbly. I declined because I don't drink, but it was quite nice.


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15. It Didn’t Stay in Vegas

I went to Vegas with my wife. First let me say it was an early flight, we got there extra early for check in, put our bags to the side, so as not to get in anyone's way. This super greaseball—wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts—comes waddling in with one carry-on bag. The guy knocks over my neatly stacked out of the way baggage. I should mention, it's also super cold outside and very early in the morning. I'm like whatever, no big deal.

Later, we get on the plane, and my wife has the window with me in the middle seat. We look down the aisle and here comes this same big guy with the Hawaiian shirt with his little bag. Of course his seat is right next to mine—but it gets worse. Let me tell you something, this guy smelled like a deceased animal covered in vomit. I literally dry heaved when he sat down next to me.

Remember, the guy had a carry-on bag, and now he was clenching it like it contained something of utmost importance: obviously not deodorant. He was also sweating through his thin red flowered shirt while everyone else was bundled in heavy winter jackets. We had not even taken off yet, and I was becoming violently ill smelling this guy.

After an hour the guy became increasingly fidgety and paranoid. This made him sweat more. I couldn’t figure out why he was sweating so much. It wasn’t warm. Finally the guy got up to use the bathroom and, as soon as he closed the bathroom door, people began ripping cologne and perfume ads out of magazines and rubbing them on his sweat soaked chair.

People were offering their apologies to me for having to sit next to him. Then the stewardess comes over and says: "I’m sorry the flight is booked and there’s nowhere else to put him" and I’m staring at her like what? I never even said anything to anyone about it. That's when I realized this guy was such a disgusting mess, people were actually rallying around me to try and help me.

It was the weirdest moment of my life. For the next five hours he made about 20 more trips to the bathroom and each time different rows would come over to rub his seat down with cologne. But even more insane was what he had in his precious carry-on.

It was adult magazines. Stacks of them. He took a new magazine to the bathroom with him each time. I have not been on a plane since.


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16. We Did the Wave

I once took one of those tiny little prop planes from St Louis to New York. I don't remember what airline it was, I just wasn't pleased. It was wintertime, and we hit a storm that we couldn't go around, so the pilots decided to go through it. The plane was—thankfully—not full. So, we entered the clouds, and it got dark fast. The plane started to shudder from turbulent winds.

I was having a ball, because I have no fear of flying: despite the fact everyone else is terrified. It was then that we hit the real storm. The plane drops, I’m not sure how much since we're directly in the clouds, and the pilots are pretty clearly trying to find an empty spot. I guess our plane couldn't go above the clouds, not powerful enough or something. So we dropped again. And again.

Suddenly every overhead bin popped open. People started screaming, the stewardesses wouldn't leave their seats. The luggage is doing the humpty in the aisle. And there was this little kid—about eight or nine years old—and he is doing the wave every time the plane dips. And I just do the wave with him. Everyone survives the trip, and I give him a high five on the way out.


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17. Seatbelts Were Not Fastened

Because my buddy is a housing HVAC expert, we were going to a secret army base in northern Canada to inspect the building's insulation. On the ride back, we were in a Hercules—a huge transport plane—when disaster strikes. All of a sudden we felt the plane dip. We were moving back and forth a lot and unfortunately, most of us didn't have our seat belts on.

Most people are banging all over the cabin. One guy gets a concussion, but my buddy and I make it back to our seats with only minor injuries. We eventually—in one hour or so—make it back to Greenland. When everyone got off the plane, we saw the captain. The Hercules' cockpit window had been broken during the snowstorm.

The pilot's face was swollen beyond recognition, and had glass in it. But he continued to fly the plane all the way to save everyone.


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18. She Asked For ID First

On a flight back from Hawaii, the row in front of me contained a bearded guy who looked about 40 and a Japanese woman who looked about 60. It was dark and the cabin lights were off. They began chatting. Soon I noticed that they were each leaning in toward the unoccupied middle seat and sort of whispering.

I heard her say quite clearly: "But I'm married!" a bunch of times. She then showed him her ring, and he took her hand in his. They fondled each other's hands for a while. Occasionally she'd scold him, and then they'd talk some more. Soon they were fondling hands again. I then heard her say: "But I don't even know you".

Soon the guy took out his driver's license and gave it to her to inspect, which she did for upwards of ten minutes. When she was done, he leaned in for a kiss. They made out for a while—I’d say for about 40 minutes—and they stopped because she once again said that she was married. This time, however, she said it with a tiny bit of a smile.

The woman’s heart was clearly pounding. There was an electricity that overtook her. He was magnetized and focused on her every movement. When the plane landed they both rushed off together down the aisle toward the exit. The guy was on my next flight, and I noticed that when he boarded the plane he had a red rose with him. The woman was nowhere to be seen.


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19. So There Was This Time At Band Camp…

In grade 12, I was on a band trip to New York, and of course we flew there as it's a long drive from Vancouver. We were seated alphabetically, and the school band took up a good ten rows of the plane. This also resulted in me and two of my friends sitting close together. It was a recipe for disaster. Toward the very end of the flight, they turn to me and say that on the count of three we're going to throw our in-flight pillows at another mutual friend some four or five rows back.

Pillows not being so aerodynamic led to only one hitting its intended target, and the other two hitting two other people. All three hit grabbed their pillows in addition to the ones we just threw, and chucked them back at us. Again, only some made it all the way back to us with others being hit and caught up in it.

Eventually the fight spiraled so out of control that there was, for a good five or ten minutes, about nine pillows in the air at all times! The crew eventually made an announcement to ask passengers to "please refrain from throwing loose items at each other". The teachers were angry, but we didn’t care.


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20. It Was A Duolingo Moment

My husband and I were on a United Flight from Los Angeles to DC. The flight was a continuing flight from Mexico City, but with a new flight crew. The drink cart came out, and an overly blonde flight attendant asked what we wanted. We ordered, and she moved past us a bit and asked the people behind us what they wanted.

The woman behind us answered in Spanish, and before her adult son next to her could translate, the flight attendant snapped: “English! This is America, we speak English! I won't give you anything unless you ask for it in English!" Everyone went silent, except my husband, who pulled his headphones off and turned to me.

"What was that?” my husband asked me. “Did she just tell that woman to speak in English because it's America?” He said that it was ridiculous and asked me if that really just happened. He continued on for a bit, very loudly I might add. The flight attendants went mute and tried to get the cart down to the back as quickly as they could.

For the rest of the flight, they didn't give our row the time of day. And yes, as we got off he made a big deal about getting her name and he called United.


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21. We Just Heard The Sobs

This flight experience was so horrible that I’ve never been able to forget it. An older man a couple of rows in front of me had a heart attack mid-flight. There wasn't enough room to assist him from where he was sitting, so they brought him to the middle of the aisle. He was just laying on the floor motionless while the flight attendants tried their best to help. The whole flight was silent save for sobs from crying.

His tummy soon became inflated and I noticed he wasn't breathing. It was really strange because the way it was set up was almost like a spectacle for everyone to see. Tragic.


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22. He Slipped Into Something More Comfortable

I was on a flight once and, as soon as the seat belt light went off, this business man grabbed his bag and off to the toilet he went. He came back a few minutes later wearing silk pajamas and slippers, and had his suit in a garment bag. He gave it to the flight attendant, who went to hang it up. The guy then put on an eye mask and off to sleep he went for the whole flight, which was about six hours.

When he woke up, he reversed the procedure. It was a nice suit, pressed shirt from his bag and such. I was kind of jealous. I'd love to be able to sleep like that on a plane.


Awful Flight MomentsPexels


23. It Was No Laughing Matter

I was on a flight about three years ago with my wife, and there was a man and a woman across the aisle from us. The man was telling the woman some funny stories and they were both laughing. A female flight attendant approached them and told the woman that her laughing was too loud and that she needed to keep it down. The lady seemed surprised, but nodded in agreement.

A few minutes later, the man went back into his story, and the lady started laughing again, nothing obnoxious, just two people having a good time. Again, the flight attendant approached them and said her laughing was "out of control" and that she needed to control herself. At this point, the lady asked for the flight attendants name, as no one else seemed to have a problem.

Then the flight attendant took it up a notch. She shouted over three rows to the attendants with the drink cart "That's it! This lady is cut off! No more drinks for her!" Everyone was stunned, as we hadn't even had drink service, and the lady protested that she hadn't had anything to drink at all as it was the middle of the day.

Again, the flight attendant cut her off and said "if you want to make a deal out of this, I will have air marshals waiting for you on the ground, and you will go straight to prison! Now sit quietly or else!" We all sat there stunned, and the attendant stormed off. Everyone around the poor lady—my wife and I included—started telling her that the attendant was way out of line.

A lady in front of her even wrote out a description of the situation that we all passed around and signed, stating that the attendant was in the wrong. About 20 minutes later, a cowed looking male flight attendant came and informed the couple that marshals would escort them from the plane and they were going to be questioned on the ground.

The guy listened patiently to her side of the story, and even read the description we had all signed. He seemed genuinely sorry, but as we got off the plane, the mean flight attendant was waiting in the tunnel with two marshals who escorted the couple to the side and began questioning them.

My wife and I hung out a bit to see if we could give a statement, but the people were released after about three minutes of questioning.


Entitled flight passengersShutterstock

24. Flirting Stopped Abruptly

I was about 15 years old and on a flight. Luckily, my parents were about two rows back with my younger brother. As luck would have it, I had a cute girl on one side of me, and an older woman on the other. I was trying my best to flirt with the cute girl. Strangely, the older woman was helping me out quite a lot. She was a great wingman.

Anyway, I get up to use the restroom, and the girl says she has to go too. She gets out first, and I'm waiting for her to finish up. We've been flirting pretty much the whole flight, and she knows that I'm right behind her in line. So she finishes using the bathroom, and I walk in. That’s when I make a seriously disturbing discovery.

Right there in the toilet is her gigantic unflushed bowel movement. To this day I have no idea how you respond to something like that.


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25. She Was More Than Afraid

I've only ever flown twice, a year ago when I was 18—to get to London and back. I have a terrible fear of flying. Well, to be real: not so much flying as crashing. To deal with this I ensured I had a hefty supply of diazepam. I tried some the night before my first flight, and it didn't work. So I took another one the morning of the flight, at breakfast, and I still felt nothing.

At this rate, I wasn't getting on the plane. I took another whilst hopelessly sobbing in the boarding queue. I still felt nothing, and had never been so afraid in my life. I hyperventilated as the plane was taking off and passed out—basically being the type of person you do not want to be sitting beside on a plane. But then it got worse.

I awoke a few minutes later to realize I was in the air and would most certainly not be getting back down anytime soon, and started panicking even more. The flight attendants kept plying me with water and, near the end of the flight, the diazepam had finally kicked in: I think. I accidentally poured a full cup of water all over my boyfriend's crotch just as we were approaching the airport.

The plane then landed horribly and suddenly, and I started screaming at the top of my lungs. I guess I was thinking we were hitting all sorts of things in the sky, despite the fact we were now on the ground in Heathrow Airport. It was at this point my boyfriend stood up from his seat, and everyone turned around to look at him.

It looked like he had wet himself after emitting the girliest screams known to man. I haven't been on a plane since the flight back.


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26. They Didn’t Even Clean It

I was on a flight from the east coast to Arizona. In the middle of the flight, the pilot gets on the intercom and asks if anyone is a doctor on the plane. Earlier, I’d noticed there was a lady three rows up from me on the right section who had an oxygen tank and her family was all around her. I didn't think anything of it since it just seemed like she was just sick.

Twenty minutes later, the pilot gets on the intercom and says we are diverting and making a stop in Denver. We landed in Denver going incredibly fast. I have never gotten to the gate that fast in my life. After the door opened, there were law officers, firefighters, EMT you name it. You couldn't really see what was going on since there was so much commotion.

I remember the family got off the plane with the lady. I specifically remember the look on the passenger on my right when she looked out the window and saw there was a white sheet over the woman that was three rows up. She’d died on the plane. So, if you’ve ever wondered what happens if someone dies on a plane, this is it.

They land the plane, get the body off the plane and do some paperwork and you are on your way in 30 minutes. The kicker to the story is in Denver it was during spring break so they had a lot of overbooked passengers. The pilot got on the intercom and said they are letting people from Denver board the plane since we had a few empty seats.

Sure enough a lady sat down in the same seat that the woman had passed in. They didn’t even clean it. I could not believe it. I was in awe for the rest of the flight. I was thinking about telling the woman after the flight that someone passed in her seat 20 minutes before, but I figured if that was me, I wouldn't want to know.


Entitled flight passengersShutterstock

27. Please Look Left

A few years ago, me and a few friends were flying from London, England to New York City. When we were about to land, it was completely dark outside. At this point we were pretty sleep-deprived and kind of nervous: we’d never been to the United States before. Anyway, the in-plane lights are turned off and the plane lands.

As the plane comes to a halt on the runway, we notice a weird orange flickering glow illuminating the inside of the plane through the right hand windows. Everyone looks out. What I saw made my blood run cold. There was a wrecked airplane in the center of a huge fire right next to us on the runway. The air crew flat out ignored it and acted as if nothing was wrong, and we never found out what had happened. In the state of mind we were in, it was a very surreal experience.


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28. Too Close For Comfort

I was on a flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay, Ontario back in 2009. We were halfway there and flying near Sault Ste Marie, and it was night time. I'm looking out my window and I see aircraft lights way off in the distance, getting bigger. I ask the guy next to me to look out the window and tell me if I'm crazy, but nope. He sees them too.

We're flying at 10,000 meters (33,000 ft), and we both watch as slowly the lights get bigger, and bigger. It looks like a jet, and it's coming right for us. Neither of us truly believe it's gonna hit, I mean, the Air Traffic Control can't be that stupid, right? After a few seconds, I'm not so sure, and I grit my teeth.

The plane gets close enough to ours that I can see into its cabin windows, and it flies directly beneath us. Less than 500 feet for sure. The turbulence of it flying below us shakes our plane.

Neither the captain nor flight attendants never mention a thing. Freaked me right out.


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29. Is There A Doctor On The Plane?

I was on a plane from New York City to Los Angeles and about halfway through the flight, this woman across the aisle from me started bawling. I looked over and what I saw broke my heart. She was holding her baby, who had suddenly stopped breathing. They did the whole "is there a doctor on the plane?" thing, and two Register Nurses and a Cardiologist came over to help.

One of the RNs did CPR on the baby, and one of the stewardesses broke out an oxygen tank and they started giving the baby oxygen. They were able to get the baby breathing again, but we did an emergency landing in Denver to get the baby to a hospital. As we were landing, I could see tons of ambulances and firetrucks out the window waiting for our arrival.

It was really intense, especially because it happened right next to me. I was really impressed with how everyone pitched in to help.


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

30. They Had To Dump It

I was on a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo for a vacation a few years ago. We decided to go the cheap route, as most people do, and flew Varig airlines. What we didn't realize at the time was that the airline was going into talks that week to file for bankruptcy and had been having major safety issues with its aircraft in South America.

Anyway, back to the flight. So we took off from LA and everything seemed to be going great minus the usual annoyances of traveling. About 4 or 5 hours into our flight, somewhere over the Pacific, I noticed a passenger next to me get the flight attendant’s attention and point to something outside the plane.

The next thing you know, one of the pilots leaves the cockpit to come back and also look. As soon as he returned to the front of the plane, the second pilot came back to have a look. You could tell a few of the passengers were getting nervous at this point. The pilot returned to the front of the plane and a few more minutes went by before we started to make a sharp turn.

Now I don't know my geography that well, but I was pretty sure in the time we were in the air we hadn't missed Tokyo. That's when the pilot came over the radio and said "Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that one of your fellow passengers has noticed a leak in the left wing. Unfortunately we will not be continuing on to Tokyo and will have to return to LA to fix the issue.

The pilot went on to tell us that once we were about 150 km (93 mi) off the coast we would be dumping the remaining fuel to ensure there are no complications." I was like Oh My God! Anyway we got back landed, and got off the plane but the last 4 hours of that trip are up there as one of scariest moments I have had in an airplane.


Worst planeShutterstock

31. A U-Turn

I was flying from Calgary to Houston, which is about a four hour direct flight. We were just about two hours into the flight, or coincidentally just about to Denver, when the pilot announced we would have to turn around and return to Calgary. So around we go and land in about an hour and a quarter. I guess the pilot really cranked it.

We touch down and taxi over to the mechanics. They open the cargo door, and shut it again. In 15 more minutes we were fueled up and in the air and off to Houston. This time it was about a three hour flight, full thrust the whole way. Luckily, there was an industry guy behind me, and I overheard him speculating the reason.

His idea was that since the airline had paid mechanics in Calgary, and probably not in Denver, it would be cheaper for them to turn around all the way to Calgary, than pay all the costs associated with landing in Denver. Luckily it was just a little glitch, and not a true problem, but the true issue was anyone's guess.

I have a friend that is very familiar with the inner workings of the plane, and he said that anytime they open the cargo door, and unplug a certain cable during maintenance, some switch has to be flipped, to reset that alarm system for that door. He said it's an extremely common mistake for that switch to not get flipped after work has been done, and it results in false alarms.

All that cost—likely in the tens of thousands—because one guy forgot to flip a switch!


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

32. Mister Big Shot

I arrived a little late for my flight from Florida to Atlanta—but I had a few minutes to spare. Thunderstorms were forecast that evening, and the airline had two flights to Atlanta an hour apart, so they put all the passengers on the earlier flight. Since the last flight's crew had a shift out of Atlanta the next morning, they still had to make the flight. Guess who was the only passenger? Me!

It was pretty awesome—I sat up in first class. The pilot came over the intercom just before take-off to say “Mr. Big Shot, I hope you are comfortable, we are about to depart”. The crew played along the whole way, acting like I was a big shot. I'll never forget that flight.


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

33. Temper Tantrum

I was on a flight to Chicago. In the middle of the flight, the guy sitting next to me punches—with all his strength—the seat in front of him as the lady in the seat attempted to recline back. The jerk holds the seat in the full forward position and proceeds to throw a temper tantrum. The guy is in a full suit with business colleagues also on the plane.

After the flight, the guy was demanding to get the ladies contact information from the flight attendant.


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

34. Tough Guy Not So Tough

I'm on an evening flight from Phoenix to Oakland, flying Southwest. Because we get to pick our seats, I always go for a window. So, I'm walking up the aisle of the fairly empty plane, and there's one available window. In fact, the whole row is empty. As I walk up to sit, there is a huge, tough guy looking dude sitting directly behind my seat.

This guy is bald, probably 115 kg (250 lbs), with several tattoos on his head. There is a tiny woman sitting next to him—and entwined with him—who is clearly his girlfriend. So, I head to the row, and he's mugging me something serious. He’s really giving me the stink eyed-sneer, and really putting on the full tough-guy display.

So, we take off, and as soon as we're actually in the air, some pretty crazy turbulence starts. I love turbulence, and I've never felt afraid while flying. It’s kind of like a roller coaster to me. So I'm having a sweet time, and the pilots announce that lousy weather means we'll probably have continuous turbulence for a good portion of the flight. I put on some Daft Punk and grin, this is gonna be a sweet ride.

About 15 minutes of bobbing around later, I hear some strange noises behind me. I turn around, and to my surprise, I find the huge dude throwing his guts up. His whole body is actually convulsing with the force of his puke, while the tiny girlfriend holds the airsick bag for him. I had a seriously difficult time not bursting into laughter.

I continue to enjoy the next half hour of turbulence, while he continues to attempt to eject his entire digestive system. When we get off the plane, I see this guy is looking totally green. His tiny girlfriend supported him as he wobbled down the aisle off the plane. It was awesome.


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

35. Definitely Not A Toy

I was on a flight to the Dominican Republic on a fairly large plane. There was a really preppy family—most likely going to a mega-resort—sitting right behind a large man who was clearly a native to the country. About half way through the flight, the kids in the preppy family started giggling, and I turned around to see them pulling on the large man's cornrows.

The look on the man's face was something I've never seen before. He made the most perfect rage face and turned around and started yelling at the kids to stop. Preppy dad told him something to the effect of "Don't talk to my kids like that." The Dominican man threw the most powerful punch I've seen in real life and sent prep dad falling back almost three rows.

Nobody could believe their eyes, and it was absolute chaos. Eventually the Dominican man got handcuffed by the marshal on the plane, but that was some of the craziest stuff I've seen.


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

36. Fly Baby, Fly

I was in the aisle seat, a guy with a baby was seated by the window, and we had an empty seat between us. As we come in for landing the guy lays the infant on the seat between us. I am thinking this guy is an idiot, but I keep it to myself. Big mistake. As soon as the tires hit the ground the baby flies out from the seat, hits the tray table, then hits the floor.

The guy is still staring out the window, as I am tapping him with his baby. I told him what happened. I bet he kept that story from his wife.

Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock


37. He Wasn’t Lost In Translation

Well, once I was flying from London to Toronto and I had a three-hour delay. I waited patiently enough and then I finally got on the plane. So now I was starving since I hadn't eaten anything during the delay. So I again was waiting patiently. This time it was for the flight attendants to bring the food cart and serve us dinner. They served it but it wasn't enough for my very empty belly.

Well, the flight attendant serving our seats was a South Asian lady who spoke English and Punjabi. I speak Punjabi well as my dad is Punjabi. Because my mom is Persian. I don't look all that South Asian; so people are usually surprised when I speak Punjabi. Since I was still hungry, I asked the flight attendant politely if there was something to eat.

The flight attendant told me she was sorry and that there was nothing else available. I cursed my luck and sat back. About 10 mins after the person on my right asked the same flight attendant if there was like a sandwich or something he could have. The flight attendant suddenly changed the conversation to Punjabi and told him to wait five minutes and she would bring it for him. Hmmm, something strange was happening here.

A few minutes later, when she was handing him the sandwich, she told him in Punjabi to tell the person next to him, that you paid for the extra meal on board. I heard her say that and obviously understood each and every word. So, I looked at her and told her in Punjabi "I am willing to pay for it too".

She was shocked and embarrassed. I got a sandwich a few minutes after, but I was very shocked.


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

38. He Wanted To Keep In Touch

I’m a guy who was flying from Boston to St Louis. I was seated next to a very talkative guy who kept touching me during our almost one-sided conversation. It got to the point that I started to keep track of how many times he touched me. This is only a little over a two hour flight, but in that amount of time this is what the totals were.

He put his hand on my leg 12 times, touched my arm closest to him 8 times, managed to touch my other arm once, and my chest twice. The chest was a sly move. I was wearing a zip-up sweatshirt that wasn't zipped all the way, and he moved it out of the way to read my shirt underneath—but that’s not the creepiest part.

While pulling back the sweatshirt he sensuously dragged his fingertips across my pecs. He frequently mentioned his wife and how religious he was, so I was absolutely certain he was gay. He gave me his card, told me he lives in St Louis, and seemed eager to "go to a hockey game" with me. I didn't call him.


Worst Airplane Experience FactsShutterstock

39. A Rollercoaster Of Emotion

My flight was from Chicago to Dallas. Our pilot came on the intercom and told us that we'd be making an unscheduled stop in some little town I'd never heard of. I was in a two engine jet and thought we were kind of big for a po-dunk town airport. As we all wondered why we were making the stop, the captain came on and said the following.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be making a rapid descent as we have run out of fuel and need to make an emergency landing". Of course everyone on board began to freak out. When we landed, we came down like a rollercoaster that just crested the top of a drop. It was so fast I thought the wings would come off, I kid you not.

You know that feeling you get when you are dropping on a rollercoaster, that's what was happening the whole time. The guy next to me was freaking out and wanting to hold hands.

We landed just fine, and didn't go off the runway even though it was a TINY airport. A single emergency truck greeted us driven by a couple college aged kids who looked like they had no idea what to do.

It turned out there was a gauge malfunction that caused them to miscalculate the fuel or something. We never got a good reason for what happened. I did, however, get a free flight voucher from it though!


Jane Fonda factsPixabay

40. It Was Held With Duct Tape

I was just 10 years old and flying alone on a flight to Vancouver. I felt a little nervous traveling by myself, but I was handling it—until the moment that freaked me out completely. A piece of the ceiling of the plane fell on my shoulder. I looked up and saw that it had only been taped up there with duct tape. Here I was, a young kid, traveling alone, and this huge tile is on my head.

I looked at the person next to me and she was asleep, and I didn’t want to wake her up. So I sat there quietly crying until a flight attendant found me. She gave me ice cream and a coloring book. Believe it or not, it made me feel much better.


I’m In Big Trouble FactsShutterstock

41. It Was A Spiral

The most terrifying moment I ever had the displeasure of being involved in was when I was like seven years old. I live by a lake and the lodge had a personal airport. Well, I had never been in a plane before, so it was a new experience for me. It was great, but on the ride back to the airport the pilot sends this tiny little plane into a spiral towards the lake and cuts out of it with only about 2 meters (5 ft) to spare.

We landed and I came to find out he was a stunt pilot. I also found out that he was a colossal jerk.


Angelina Jolie factsPixabay

42. Do You Want A Window?

This one is about British Airways maintenance. I was on a British Airways 737 from Gatwick to Dublin. As soon as the plane took off, the window panel came off and landed on my lap! The whole interior window. The guy sitting next to me had super wide eyes and said to me: "Don't do that!" I replied: "I didn't do anything!"

I actually wasn't that worried, as I knew that the outside window would hold, but it was not a nice feeling. Anyways, the window panel is light plastic, so I put it back on the top and used my fist to 'punch' it back into place: job done!


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

43. He Passed And Passed

On one flight that I was on, a guy passed out in the aisle while walking to the washroom. He fell right next to my seat—I honestly thought he just died. But, after a few seconds, he got up and continued walking to the washroom. Then he passed out again. At this point the flight attendants are all over this guy and asking if he's alright.

The guy says he’s fine, and that he hasn't had that much sleep lately. He goes into the washroom, passes out again and falls back towards the door. The flight attendants—who are significantly smaller than him—are pushing back against the door, so that he doesn't fall on them. Another flight attendant makes the "is there a doctor on this plane" announcement and no one comes forward.

Eventually the guy gets out of the bathroom, sits in an empty seat in the back for a few minutes, goes back to his original seat and sleeps the rest of the flight.


The Most Humiliating MomentsFlickr, Tom Purves

44. In A Flap About Flaps

I actually flew just this past week. As we approached our destination, the captain comes on the PA and tells us that the flaps aren't working and that because of this we can't land. Sorry, did I hear that correctly? We spent the next 45 minutes looping around the destination airport. I watched the flight path display on the screen.

The plane was silent except for the sound of people's phones pinging with text messages. I sent my kids the "Love you" text. After the longest 45 minutes of my life, the flaps randomly start working again. We landed safely and no one was even injured. Hats off to those of you who fly for a living. Thanks for all you do to keep us safe.


Worst planeShutterstock

45. He Swiped Right

I was flying to Denver on Delta in winter 2009, and they were just switching from cash to credit only. They’d just got their brand new machines to swipe cards, and I was one of the first people to test them out. I ordered a seven and seven, it was seven bucks. She took my card, swiped it, and the thing only printed out 0 dollars. I left a 3 dollar tip and thought, cool.

About 10 minutes later she came by and asked if I wanted another, I said sure, why not? I swipe the card, and there was another zero dollar transaction. I bought lunch: zero dollars. So, I ordered seven more seven and sevens and got hammered for around 20 bucks in tips. I checked my bank account the day after and sure enough, only the tip showed up.

I have no idea what happened, but that was one happy flight attendant—and one even happier me.


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

46. Lying In The Aisle

I was once flying from Germany to Toronto. We had the worst turbulence I've ever experienced. We all thought it was the end. A guy standing in the aisle gets jostled so hard that he cracks his head on an overhead compartment and gets knocked out. He spent the rest of the flight lying in the aisle because he couldn't move. These cheap charter flights always have some problems.


Worst planeShutterstock

47. We Were Free Falling

I was on a flight back from Seattle to Denver about seven years ago. The pilot instructed us to return to our seats with our seat belts fastened, because the tower had informed him that other pilots had reported some unusual turbulence over the Rockies. Soon after, he requested that the flight attendants also secure the cabin and take their seats as well.

Shortly after the flight attendants strapped themselves in, the plane hit the turbulence. No big deal. I had experienced that level of turbulence all the time and I knew we'd be just fine—until the moment that convinced me otherwise. Out of nowhere, the plane just starts free-falling right out of the sky. My stomach does a few flip flops for the first second or two.

Then three more seconds. Four seconds. My "Sky Mall" magazine starts to levitate right out of my lap. Oh no! Five seconds. People are freaking out now. Six seconds. A woman screams. Several start joining in with her almost immediately. Seven seconds. The plane bumps and the free fall slows. After eight or nine seconds, the plane finally starts leveling out. We're NOT going to die today!

I look around and people are white as sheets. One woman is dry-heaving into her hands, looking for her air-sickness bag. Oddly enough, the youngest kids are just confused, like they're still not sure what the adults are freaking out about. This makes for a good story for my friends nowadays, but no way would I ever choose to relive this moment ever again.


Pilots’ Most Terrifying MomentsShutterstock

48. She’d Do Anything For A Drink

I was on a flight from Shanghai to LAX, and we were just leaving the gate. An Asian woman, who was probably in her early 20s and sitting across the aisle, started holding herself and rocking back and forth like crazy. I thought she was just nervous about the flight or something. She had long black hair that hung over her face as she rocked so it looked pretty creepy.

Anyway, as the plane starts taxiing to the runway, she stands up still clutching herself, faces the window, and starts counting from one to 10 and back down to one in Mandarin, over and over again! She was rocking back and forth with her hair hanging all low like the girl from "The Ring".

At first people tried to ignore her, but then the flight attendants came over and asked her if she was okay.

The woman didn't respond at all, just kept counting one to ten and back again. She ignored everyone. People were starting to freak out around her because: first of all, it was super creepy, and secondly because we were about to take off and she was still out of her seat. The flight attendants were running around trying to figure out what was going on.

After sitting for about 15-20 minutes on the runway, trying to deal with this girl, they gave her something to drink (not sure what it was) which calmed her down enough to have a flight attendant put her into her seat, buckle her up, and take off. Needless to say, it was a long flight where everyone kept an eye on the girl to see if she would freak out again...


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

49. What Are The Odds?

I was on a flight out of Chicago about six years ago or so. We were in the air for only a few minutes and ascending to our cruising altitude when all of a sudden...boom! There was a huge explosion out the right side of the plane, loud enough to hurt your ears. There were also bright fiery lights and sparks flying. People started freaking out.

Someone said the engine had exploded. After the initial shock, the plane went completely quiet, and I realized that we were all listening carefully for the sound of the plane starting to fall out of the sky. A sound that, thankfully, never came. Instead, the pilot announced that the plane had just been struck by lightning,

He said the plane was fine, and we would be continuing on our way to our final destination. I later asked the flight attendant how often that happens, and he responded that he didn't know exact statistics, but that he had been a flight attendant for over 10 years, and had never personally witnessed a direct lightning strike on a plane before.


Awful Flight MomentsShutterstock

50. They Wore HAZMAT Suits

I flew into Honolulu from Brisbane a few years ago and, upon landing, rather than pulling up to the gate we diverted to a random piece of runway, where the plane sat for a while. There were no announcements or anything. Then after about 15 minutes, I notice a chilling sight. Some people in HAZMAT suits board the plane and go to a lady sitting towards the front.

They spend about half an hour talking with the lady and writing on clipboards, then leave. Still there are no announcements or anything. After about another 15 minutes a few ambulance guys turn up and escort the lady off the plane. We finally taxi to a gate. Of course we are all super concerned and wondering what the heck is going on.

It turns out she had been really sick on the flight and had recently been to South America. They thought she had some crazy disease, so had quarantined the plane while they assessed whether to let us into the country or turn us back around to Brisbane. I’ve got to say, I'm glad they chose the first option!


Worst planeUnsplash

Sources: 1, 2

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