Airplane Horror Stories: Part One
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Share Your Own Airplane Horror Story
After our first edition of Airplane Horror Stories, we felt satisfied that the most frightening accounts of airline travel had been fairly and completely dealt with. But your continued and varied responses prove otherwise. Our readers continued to send in stories replete with frustration and irritation, tragedy and terror, holes in the fuselage and verbal assaults in broken English. And just to disprove the belief that the only memorable travel experiences are the trips where something awful or bizarre occurs, we've included a heart-warming experience for a little balance.
Don't forget -- if you've got one of your own, we want to hear it! Post it on our message boards.
Look, Dear, There's a Hole in the Plane
"Being from the East Coast, I flew Eastern Airlines most of the time. There was never a trip that something did not go wrong. Once I flew from Rhode Island to Washington D.C. and ended up in Hartford, Connecticut for the night instead. It stopped in Hartford and when it landed the pilot landed so hard and fast that when he applied the brakes, the back door blew off. It was something to see, watching the runway from the back of the plane with no door. Fortunately we had already lost the cabin pressure so no one flew out with the door and the seat they were in. Needless to say, after so many mishaps on their record, Eastern went out of business." --Pat O
Priest Is Told to "Shut Up"
"My flight was 12 hours late -- the reason never explained -- on Northwest Airlines. Passengers were told to line up at a desk with one airline employee for the entire flight of over 100 people to route passengers to different airports and hopefully to the correct destination. After several hours in line -- by then it was midnight -- the Northwest employees became very agitated, yelling at passengers, and some yelled back. The airport police were called by the employees and they attempted to arrest several passengers. A priest even told the police that the passengers were the ones who were mistreated, not the rude employees. The airport police threatened to arrest the priest if he did not shut up. Some passengers were taken into custody. I went to a motel at my expense and caught a flight the next day, arriving home one day late." --Elballjr
That's My Seat, Poopyhead!
"My daughter, her girlfriend and I, who are all Americans, had just completed our Costa Cruises journey. We had used the chartered flight supplied by the cruise line for our air travel from New York to Tampa. On the return flight, they did not have assigned seats for the passengers, and seating was being done on a first-come, first-served basis. Total chaos broke out as people started fighting over seats and trying to keep their families together. Passengers were yelling, 'Women and children come first.' They were an all Italian group. Some of the fighting was in Italian or broken English.
"A man almost punched a woman, and there were loud comments such as 'You shut-up-a you face, I'm a-gonna puncha you in-a the mouth!' Finally, stewards and stewardesses straightened everything out. We by the way are of Italian descent and thought it was funny! Oh, those comical passionate Italians, just love them." --Shroodshopper
Mixed Messages Result in Tragedy
"I took a flight from LaGuardia Airport to Nicaragua in December 1999. The airline (American) and my travel agency confirmed that I could travel with my 1-year-old son without a passport. The travel agency called American twice to be sure about my son and his papers.
"The airline told me that it was fine to bring only his Social Security card and birth certificate. This was an emergency trip; my mother-in-law had just died. I left from New York with my husband and my three kids. When I arrived in Nicaragua, they sent me back to New York because my little son didn't have a passport. I had never met my mother-in-law and I lost the only chance that I would ever have to see her. I returned crying, and nobody would help me at the airports. With no clothes -- I had taken my daughters' clothes by mistake and my husband had to buy clothes for my other kids in Nicaragua -- I arrived in New York with no coats for my son and me. It was so cold. I took a taxi late at night to my house. The airline sent me a letter showing no responsibility about the problem and a check for my airline ticket. Until today my heart is still broken." --LRi4380929
It Can't Be All Bad
"In the departure area at LAX, I recognized a person I had seen perform in Toronto with a comedy troupe also known for its 'Saturday Night Live' performers. Although one ordinarily does not try to 'bother' personalities in L.A., I introduced myself and mentioned I remembered the performances with the troupe in Toronto. I made the person's day, it seems, as performers do thrive on 'attention and recognition' (not paparazzi) even from their lesser-known work.
"We talked a bit about the person's production work for a then-popular TV network sitcom ... and I was introduced to some family members. We were all headed back to Canada for Christmas with our respective families. They were then called to board in first class. A pleasant encounter and I made someone's day, politely and elegantly.
"Later, in mid-flight, the pilot advised everyone that due to poor weather conditions we would not land in Toronto and would be diverted to Buffalo, NY and then bussed to Toronto. In the baggage area in Buffalo, I met up with this person and their family again. Spontaneously, they decided not to await the buses, and asked if I'd like to 'join in' on a limousine ride back to Toronto. When I said I could not afford to do this, I was told, 'You're covered; after all, you made my day. You actually made my whole life in L.A.,' and I rode with all of them in style the 90 miles to Toronto. Our limousine arrived at the Buffalo-Fort Erie border crossing just in front of the airline passenger buses. Canada Customs and Immigration just wearily waved us through. Good karma gets you home in style!" --W. Moore M
Inebriation Causes Insanity
"On a recent flight from Vegas to Atlanta, there was a man on the plane that took the intercom from the flight attendant and told us, 'This plane is going to f------- crash.' He then attempted to open an exit door. Strangely, the man only became crazy after he was served alcoholic beverages on the plane. I received a letter of apology from AirTran, but this was still an incredibly scary incident. We were very lucky that we had four off-duty Atlanta police officers on the plane that subdued the man. Should I have been offered free flights by AirTran????" --Charlotte M
How Scared Were You Really?!
"I have been a frequent traveler all my life and on a flight back in December 2005, we just couldn't seem to get any lift (altitude) for the first 15 - 20 minutes. Furthermore, with my flying experience in both military and civilian areas, I noticed we were over land too long on a flight that should have headed immediately over the Atlantic for its journey to the Caribbean. On top of that I detected the Milky Way set of stars in the sky three times which indicated we were in a slow circling pattern. Only then, after 45 minutes or so, the Captain stated that we were having a problem and the plane could not pressurize. He 'thought' it was because one of the doors was not shut properly, but had to talk with the ground crew and the home office in Texas to discuss this emergency. I continued to notice we were circling and dumping fuel for a potential eventful landing back at the airport we started more than 2.5 hours earlier.
"We landed hard as the plane obviously landed with more fuel than was intended, yet it had to leave enough onboard for a touch and go. Upon landing we were first told this could be taken care of -- while we remained in our seats, mind you. I laughed. Eventually we were allowed off the plane and told to leave personal effects aboard as we would re-board in a matter of minutes. Finally a new plane was rolled up to an adjacent gate for our trip down. I've been flying all my life and this is the first time I've ever been afraid to do so. Realizing the plane could basically blow up because of it not being pressurized, and that is what could have happened, I found it a bit much. I truly believe many of the passengers onboard didn't know either what was occurring or how bad the situation was. Not only did I fly down to my destination (and it took a day to relax down there), I was given a free roundtrip ticket to fly anywhere the airline flies and I have a trip planned very soon." --ort162
Share your own airplane horror story!
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--written and compiled by Dan Askin