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Airplane Horror Stories


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airplane woman shocked surprised open mouthSure, you can laugh about it now -- but at the time, it was far from funny. Unfortunately, it's also inevitable. The more you travel, the more likely it is that you've had an ill-fated journey (or five). In this day and age, the transport du jour is the airplane, and stories abound from travelers who didn't find the skies quite so friendly. Straight from our very own message boards, our members shared with us their tumultuous air travel tales of sick seatmates and nail-biting nose dives -- so many that we also posted a part two!

Got one of your own? We want to hear it! Post it on our message boards.

Houston, We Have a Problem
"My worst flight was on a trip from Dublin to London. Out of nowhere, the plane took a nose dive ... for about eight seconds! I know it doesn't seem like that long, but seriously, count for eight seconds. That's a long nose dive! Passengers started screaming, luggage went flying out of the overhead bins and the lights went out. So scary! I really thought the plane was going to crash. Everything ended up being okay, at least I think so. The pilot never even announced what happened." -- Evalla

Cleanup on Aisle Five!
"On a recent flight from Jacksonville to Newark, I was seated directly across from a very ill woman. This wasn't simple motion sickness either. She was using her complimentary 'bag' before we even began taxiing. The flight attendants asked her if she wanted to deplane but she insisted on staying ... and continued to get sick for the entire flight, shaking and lying across three seats. Eventually, the attendants just gave her an industrial-sized black garbage bag. Yuck. Trust me, nobody within a three-row radius ate their in-flight snack.

"I was never so happy to see Newark in my life. The kicker is, as I was headed to baggage claim, I heard over the P.A. system, 'Cleanup at gate X.' Hmm, wonder what happened there!" -- TravelMel

Is It Hot in Here?
"I had the delayed flight horror on one trip from Denver to Ottawa via Chicago. I was squeezed into the middle seat between two football-player-sized fellows who smelled of garlic and last night's beer. We sat on the tarmac for five hours. They wouldn't let us off the plane, would not serve food, or let us stand or go to the bathroom as we were waiting for permission to take off -- and the air-conditioning didn't work! The two fellows on either side turned into a bath of sweat.

"Finally the plane took off, and took a very long flight detour to the south as there were storms in our path. The hot food had long since cooled off. The cold drinks were warm, and the staff finally decided they couldn't serve the food as it was not suitable to eat. Of course, any connecting flights were non-existent on our arrival in Chicago, many hours late. And at the baggage counter, they advised that they couldn't find the luggage of anyone on the whole plane." -- Anonymous

Have You Seen Our Bags?
luggage bags suitcases close up travel "Like a bad dream, en route from LAX to O'Hare taking a red-eye flight December 23. We were the first ones greeted to nothing but rows of suitcases and baggage waiting to be claimed or shipped to other parts of the country to deserted passengers. Our luggage was still in LAX; we were all up in arms considering it was only four degrees outside and most of us had packed our heavy jackets with our suitcases! This was due to a heavy snowstorm that hit the Ohio Valley, and United baggage handlers were calling in sick countrywide.

"I did not see my suitcase for another three days. I went home the following day -- thank God it departed on time." -- ppadilla

Losing Your Lunch
"When we lived in Oklahoma and were coming home from a visit to Pennsylvania, we went through some terrible, frightening turbulence. The flight attendant was serving meals (that's how long ago it was!), and she'd gotten to our row when the bumpy ride became a roller coaster. The pilot announced that all flight personnel should be seated and secure all items. The woman threw a few meals at me because I was traveling with young children and rushed to lock up her cart and herself.

"A few rows behind us, a woman started screaming, 'Hey, where is my meal? I'm a diabetic and I need to eat now!' The stewardess told the screaming woman to shut up and sit down, or she won't have to worry about getting another meal! I passed my tray back to her because I didn't figure my food was going to stay down. I think I kissed the ground once we were off the plane." -- Cruisin' Cats

Where There's Smoke ...
"About 20 years ago, on an airline serving and indigenous to Mexico, I was taking a flight back to New York from Acapulco via Mexico City. It was a twin engine jet, but I can't recall what type. As usual, I snagged a window seat just forward of the starboard side wing. About 20 minutes into the flight, the engine on the wing started trailing flames. As you can imagine, there were a lot of very scared people onboard.

"The pilot must have shut the engine down or something around that point because the flames died out suddenly, but the flight got very bumpy and it seemed the plane was vibrating. Somehow we limped into Mexico City where we were greeted on the runway with emergency foam and just about every emergency vehicle that the airport must have had access to. The pilot put us down on the ground rather gracefully, and after a quick inspection they towed us to a gate.

"For some reason they didn't want anyone deplaning and they kept us in the airplane for about an hour while the mechanic worked on the engine. Now, when I say worked, I mean worked. The guy tinkered with the engine for about 40 minutes, then said something to two confused-looking fellows on the ground off to the side of the wing and then started beating on the thing with a pipe wrench. Nine or ten good whacks later the whole engine tore loose and plunged to the tarmac. At this point, they decided we might be slightly delayed ... and they let us off the plane into a sealed waiting room (no food, dubious telephones).

"Now we could only see the other side of the airplane -- the one away from the problem. They left us there for about three hours, telling us that a new plane was coming. Then they announced that they didn't have another plane and that this one was being repaired. As you might guess, somewhere along the line during the next seven hours when they were repairing the plane (duct tape and bailing wire is my guess), the pilots timed out and had to get some time off. So we waited another four hours for a fresh flight crew. We got home, 18 hours late, and I'll never again fly a local airline into that area of the world." -- DocNY

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