15 WTF Airline Horror Stories
I love flying. But I won’t lie, I sometimes close my eyes and grit my teeth when taking off or landing, but for the most part I find it a wonderful experience. I can’t recall a time when I had a bad airline travel moment. The again, I’m a young white woman, so I’m sure that has something to do with it. I’ve been randomly selected to go through that x-ray machine looking thing. But I’ve never felt afraid when going through security. I recognize that that’s a privilege some are not afforded. The only thing that came close to a shitty experience was when a very rude male passenger took my seat on my first solo-vacation flight. I had selected the seat because I’m very anxious and like to be able to go to the bathroom quickly if need be. Thankfully, I’ve never lived any of the following experiences. Then again, I’ve only flown a handful of times…
15. The Woman Who Alleges She Had To Pee In A Cup
Once you’re known for dragging people off planes, there’s no turning back. In May, the Chicago Tribune reported a story about a woman who claimed that the airline ‘United’ had disallowed her from using the restroom on a flight. The airline staff refused to let her leave her seat until the seatbelt sign was turned off. Seems like a totally normal request but the woman, unfortunately, had a condition that caused her to produce excess urine. When the woman explained her condition a flight attended gave her a cup. Yeah, seriously. I understand the rules but in this case, it seems like handing a woman a cup to pee in was the wrong move.
14. The Worst Birthday Ever
In this airline story, a whole family was kicked off a plane. The reason? A birthday cake. The family had brought a cake on board to celebrate their mother’s birthday. It seems that the cake being on board was not the problem but a dispute erupted about where to store the cake. When you read the news story about the incident, it sounds completely asinine. Something that on the surface didn’t seem like such a big deal eventually got the passengers removed from the flight. It’s hard to know who was in the wrong but I think it’s probably prudent to just get a birthday cake when you arrive at your destination.
13. The Inappropriate Passenger & Ineffective Crew
Imagine having to sit next to a very drunk man who spends the whole flight harassing you. That’s exactly what happened to Jennifer Rafieyan who found herself sitting next to a heavily intoxicated man who would not stop touching her. When interviewed about the whole thing she admitted that she was too nervous to do anything about the groper. When she told the flight crew they seemed to be aware that the passenger was causing trouble but they actually apparently continued to give him alcohol. Serving alcohol to an already intoxicated passenger is actually illegal. Flight crews are also supposed to stop drunk folks from boarding flights.
12. Elder Abuse
I’m not really sure how anyone can justify mistreating an elderly person but that’s apparently what happened to Paz Orquiza, a woman in her ’90s, when she flew United. Because of some painful medical conditions, her family purchased a more expensive plane ticket so she could sit more comfortably during a very long flight. Her daughter accompanied her on the trip but was denied access to the business class area to help her mother with eating. The crew allegedly refused to help the old woman and ended up putting her in a regular seat closer to her family. I get that flight crews must deal with awful passengers a lot, but having a bad day does not justify that kind of behaviour.
11. Disabled Woman Mistreated By United
When you’re going to be boarding a plane as a disabled person, my guess is that there’s some extra anxiety attached to that experience. But, overall, you expect that the crew will treat you well and be there to help you if you need it. Erica Fulton, who uses a wheelchair, was assisted into her airplane seat by workers and they actually ended up dropping her. To be fair, they weren’t looking to intentionally harm or hurt her but the nightmare didn’t end there. The airline apparently also damaged her very expensive wheelchair. The injuries from the fall resulted in a hefty hospital bill as well.
10. The Unconscious Woman In The Restroom
Move over United! American Airlines apparently also drags people off planes. During this particular incident, a woman who was found passed out in the plane’s restroom was dragged off the plane in a half nude state. Passengers witnessed the whole thing and were completely appalled that the emergency responders didn’t even bother to cover her up. Of course, there were varying reports regarding the woman’s attire. Some passengers claimed that her bottom half was completely nude. Others said they remembered her wearing underwear. Sadly, the woman died shortly after being taken off the plane. Part of me hopes that the reports of how her lifeless body was handled are completely false.
9. The Passengers Who Got Kicked Off The Plane – In Handcuffs
This particular event actually happened in the 1990s. The woman involved in the incident was on a flight with her boyfriend at the time. His wealthy father purchased tickets for the two of them but decided to only splurge on his son and get him seated in business class. Kind of strange. Naturally, the two decided to sit together until take off to be able to talk a bit before the actual flight. The woman was rudely addressed by a flight attendant and told to return to her assigned seat. Later in the flight, the woman was blocked from seeing her boyfriend once again. It turns out that a decision was made to make an emergency landing in order to kick the couple off. In handcuffs!
8. RIP Doudou The Golden Retriever
I hate this story. Because I hate anything where an animal is mistreated or dies. An airline in China came under fire for allegedly causing the death of a precious golden lab named Doudou. The young adorable lab was transported via the cargo area and died during the flight. I can’t imagine learning that my beloved pet died while in the hands of an airline. It’s such a cramped and scary space for a dog. The poor pup must have been terrified. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. The owner was offered a little under a $1000 US for her loss but refused. I would do the same. You can’t put a price on the life of a pet that’s part of the family.
7. A Woman With Special Needs Was Stranded
A mentally impaired woman found herself lost in a Florida airport after leaving her Air Canada flight. Her family had explained to the airline prior to departure that the woman needed to be looked after when getting on and off the plane. Paperwork was even filed to ensure everything would go smoothly. Except, it seems all that was in vain. When the incident occurred, her family was terrified that she had left the airport and gotten lost or worse. Thankfully, the woman was eventually found safe but the incident was definitely a traumatic one for her and her loved ones. It makes you think twice about trusting an airline in these types of situations.
6. Lack of Gluten Free Meals
There are people who are actually allergic to gluten. Unfortunately, those with celiac disease have had to deal with a trend in recent years that has made gluten-free a kind of fad. I think it’s made many people skeptical when they hear people ask for gluten free meal options. Earlier this year, a passenger with celiac disease was given only a banana to eat on a long flight. It’s no surprise that airline food is kind of awful, but really? Only a banana!? For NINE HOURS? I’d get hangry really fast. The man who was given the “special” meal was even offered a knife and fork for his delectable gluten free meal.
5. Exploding Headphones
I always knew airplane headphones were bad news. I always try to bring my own. But it turns out all headphones (with batteries) are a potential hazard when it comes to in-flight entertainment. Better get used to reading subtitles! A woman using battery powered headphones had a horrible experience on a flight earlier this year when the headphones she was using exploded. She quickly pawed at them and as they fell to the floor they melted into the ground. It turns out that battery-powered devices are a potential hazard which is a bit scary since almost everything contains some kind of battery. Of course, it’s not a likely event that a device you’re using will explode, but you never know!
4. Forced To Stand During the Entire Flight
I barely like to stand at concerts so the idea of having to stand for an entire flight sounds impossible. The story, from 2011, involves a man named Brooks Anderson. Anderson is a very tall guy so airplane seats are a bit cramped for him. Unfortunately, on one flight, in particular, the seating space was so tight that he ended up having to stand because it was so uncomfortable. Instead of finding the passenger a more accommodating seat, the crew allowed him to stand. Sounds like a pretty terrible compromise if you ask me. This occurred years ago. I bet Anderson has even more trouble finding leg room on flights these days.
3. Never Ending Barfer
You know in the movies when one person starts to barf and then everyone follows suit? I can’t believe that didn’t happen in this story. One passenger had to sit near a woman who was super sick. She kept barfing into a bag and it all began even before take off. She chose to stay on board and tough it out which was no doubt unfortunate for the rest of the people on board. I can’t imagine it smelled very nice in that airplane cabin. I think I’d be unable to even eat my gluten-free banana. I feel bad for the folks who had to clean that mess up.
2. Are You Ticklish?
I’m not afraid of spiders but I’m definitely not interested in having a giant tarantula sneak up on me during a flight. That’s what happened to Catherine Moreau who was quietly enjoying a movie. She felt something touch her lightly and when she tried to brush whatever it was away the terrifying creature revealed itself. It turns out the tarantula had hitched a ride and had a friend on board, too. People, naturally, freaked the heck out when they realized there were two big spiders scurrying around the plane. Honestly, at least it wasn’t a cockroach or some kind of flying insect. I would have lost my shit completely.
1. Bye Bye Engine
The previous stories are all horrible and appalling in their own right but this is probably the most terrifying incident. Earlier this year, a flight that was bound to Shanghai had to head back because of engine failure. It turns out the reason for the failure was a giant hole in the engine area. Imagine being the first person to spot the extensive damage. Yikes. I highly doubt that it was a smooth flight. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the plane landed safely. And unlike many of the above stories, the crew worked hard to keep everyone calm. That’s exactly what you want when you fly, flight attendants who are professional and good at what they do, even when there’s a freaking hole in the engine.
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