For most travelers, flying is usually the quickest and most efficient method of getting to your destination. However, if your unlucky enough to deal with bad customer service, rude passengers, or, God forbid, some kind of emergency, air travel can unfortunately be pretty stressful. Check out these crazy stories from people that have experienced the worst of the worst. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I decided I would move myself and my beautiful cat across country from California to Tennessee.
After copious amounts of paper work and vet visits (the kitty got Xanax, I didn't), we started our journey in car for a five hour drive to the closest airport.
That's when the crazy xanned up cat yowling started... It didn't stop for another 15 hours. Everyone near me hated me and my cat. I also hated my cat. I had to keep my legs up for the entire 10 hours of flights and carry a 16 lbs cat though security. I brought her on as a carry-on because I was worried she'd die in the baggage carrier portion. Not so worried anymore.
Two flights and several drinks later, we were finally in Atlanta at 5 am. My evil cat finally sleeps. After 24 hours of cat screaming at me that she hates me and airplanes/cars, she immediately relaxes in my parents' favorite leather chair.
Cats are jerks...don't take them on airplanes unless you have to.
I can't imagine children being worse than a howling Xanax-ed up cat, who wants to rip apart her carrier.
'Yoooooooooowwwwwl,' with this sad dying-sounding cat on repeat for 10 hours of flying, plus airport transit time.
She was absolutely fine when she got let free. Freaking adorable jerk."
"I was in Africa on business a few years back, in Zambia to be precise. There was a one day stopover in Dubai before flying on to Dublin, but to get there I had to get a connecting flight in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
Part 1: The flight from Zambia to Ethiopia was about 6 hours and it was an overnight flight. I boarded the plane and was seated next to an elderly Asian man. My plan was to sleep as soon as the plane took off and wake up for breakfast just before we landed. This did not go as planned. I tried to go to sleep and this elderly Asian man elbowed me in my side. I assumed it was an accident, but every time I closed my eyes on that plane he did it again. I tried to say something to him, but he didn't speak English. I told a Stewardess what was happening and she tried to speak with him, but none of the cabin crew spoke Japanese, and the flight was full so I couldn't move seats. I gave up on sleeping and listened to music until breakfast arrived. At this point, the man beside me literally put his plate to his mouth and sucked everything off it. Then, he tried to grab my plate and do the same. I grabbed it back and he eventually grunted and gave up.
Part 2: With severe lack of sleep, I boarded my connecting flight from Ethiopia to Dubai. I was seated next to a guy my age who looked to be from Dubai, I felt like I might actually be able to get some shut eye on this flight (4 hours long). Nope, wrong again. We got the menus for the breakfast and lunch on this flight, and this guy picks up his menu and sticks it in my face, pointing at things. I assumed he was asking me in Arabic what they were. He got very angry when I shrugged and couldn't respond. He spent the rest of the flight watching Arabic soap operas with his earphones in, laughing hysterically and nudging me and pointing to to the screen to laugh along, as if I could hear through his headphones and speak Arabic. On top of this, he was very loudly burping and farting the whole flight.
Safe to say, I slept like a freaking baby when I got to the hotel."
"I was flying home. We were at cruising altitude, somewhere above 32,000 feet, with zero turbulence when suddenly the plane just plummeted. The weirdest thing was, the wings and nose stayed level, so you just felt the sudden loss of gravity and marveled as all the unsecured objects (including the flight attendant) hit the cabin ceiling. I had my seatbelt on, somewhat loosely, and I was hovering about two inches above my seat.
People were screaming and praying. The man in front of me was telling his wife how much he loved her; the woman behind me was telling her little girl, 'Close your eyes, baby.' Life does imitate art, and this was a disaster movie.
I don't know why, but I remained unmoved; no panic, no tears. I thought, 'This is how it ends. I didn't think it would end like this.' Then I remembered that my parents would be waiting at the gate (it was 1994), and I imagined their anguish as the waves of bad news rolled in. Delay. Incident. Accident. Crash. Rescue. Recovery. No survivors. So, a silent prayer for Mom and Dad; then I waited to die.
Suddenly, it was over. I don't know how long our 'uncontrolled descent' lasted. Like all intensely stressful situations (car accidents, combat, small children's 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 looked. It was an odd and powerful sensation, 100 strangers having conversations without anyone saying a word. 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 one's arms. Weren't we in a disaster movie? Instead, nothing. All 100 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."
"Had a lady sitting behind and across the aisle from my girlfriend and me on a 10-hour flight. We'd spent the whole weekend together already and were flying to the States for leave. 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, 'I think something is lost.' Then 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 at all. 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 to get you to agree?
Yeah, that's where we were going. And it finally ended on, 'it's the fault of the minorities and Mexicans.'
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. I was finally able to enjoy my flight in peace."
"I'm a big guy, so airline travel is hard. I usually buy two tickets so I don't put anybody out. On the last plane trip I ever took, 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 put anybody else out. I even used that machine when I came into the airport and worked with the teller to ensure I had two seats together. I'm not one of those jerk fat people, I'm much bigger than average and I don't expect businesses to accommodate my choice of lifestyle. She 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. I even showed her my tickets to prove they were my seats.
Luckily, the most beautiful flight attendant I've ever seen named Cheyenne came up and asked her to 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. Cheyenne 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 there again."
I'm flying from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Cleveland, Ohio. Just as we are about to board the plane, someone in line says something like 'a Cessna just crashed into the World Trade Center.' Though a bit troubling, most people were just focused on getting on the plane and didn't pay it much mind.
Taxi to the runway and take off like normal. I have my head buried in a book, so I'm not paying much attention to what is going on, though I did notice we didn't get to altitude which I thought was weird. I think we stayed at maybe 10,000 feet rather than going up to 30,000. My flight was direct into Cleveland. We cruised along at 10,000 feet for 30 minutes. 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 is getting nervous. I had no idea what was going on. Maybe there was an accident or maybe a plane was hijacked? We land at O'Hare and looking out the window all I could see was chaos. Planes were everywhere. Stacked up at the gates, on the access runways leading to the takeoff runway. 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 attack. We thought this meant that someone had launched a military attack of some sort, like jet fighters, missiles, etc. I'm confused as to what is going on. Of course, my cell phone was dead, but it probably wouldn't have mattered if it was charged because people were having a difficult time getting through on their phones.
After about an hour waiting, we were able to get off the plane at the gate. The scene inside was just total panic. I remember seeing national guard soldiers there with their weapons, 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 have 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.'
On the ride to the rental car facility, I'm racking my brain to try to figure out how to get 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 30 minutes or so and found what I was looking for: U-Haul. I rented a U-Haul truck and drove it all the way back to Ohio.
And that's my worst airline travel story."
"Flying from Minneapolis to Denver. There was a winter storm and I would be late. Fine. I called the shuttle ahead of time and they could pick me up and bring me to my hotel in Breckenridge, even though it was going to be 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. It sucks when you miss your connection, so I was being 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 my skis.
By the time I whined and moaned and did everything I could to get my skis, I still couldn't get my skis and I missed the shuttle anyway plus Interstate 70 was closed.
So I had to spend the night in the airport.
What I learned: It doesn't pay to be nice. Airports specifically put the armrests on chairs to prevent people from sleeping laying across the chairs, and Denver airport does a lot of floor cleaning overnight."
"Kuwait Airlines. I was coming home for Christmas from Malaysia to New York, with connection in London. We got to the airport in Kuala Lumpur to find that the airline had somehow lost our reservation. There was no ground staff at the airport for Kuwait Air. I was frantically on the phone with the Kuwait Air desk in NY and they were able to credit us for the original tickets and allow us to pay again in cash for the same price to make our flight.
London was hit by a blizzard and we were diverted to Belgium, where shortly after, the same blizzard hits. We had to sleep in the airport in Belgium. There was zero information from Kuwait Air and they were nowhere to be found.
Finally, some ground staff at the airport took pity on us and mentioned that our flight was scheduled to fly later that next day. Still, nobody from Kuwait Air contacted us at all. We finally, about an hour before scheduled departure, learn that we were going to be flown back to Kuwait, and not onward to London. Reluctantly, we boarded to fly several hours backward.
On arrival in Kuwait, we learned that they refused to put us on outbound flights on alternative airlines, and that all 400 passengers would need to wait on standby for no shows to fly out. On top of this, they tried to take our passports, and usher us back to the hotel to wait for who knows how long.
We meet up with an American living there, who's Syrian boyfriend helped us by checking with other airlines for available seats...We found three on Egypt Air. Kuwait Air told us that they have to do a cash transfer to Egypt Air, which maybe won't work.
We end up getting the cash paid for the Egypt Air tickets and flew out to Cairo in the middle of the night to the sketchy terminal. We unsure if we would be able to get out since our Cairo to NY tickets are standby.
Finally! We were on the way to New York! On arrival, I was stopped for four hours of questioning due to flying on cash tickets through the middle East.
Moral of the story: do not fly Kuwait Air."
"One time I was doing a flight and in the cockpit, we normally need a 'cabin secure' message from the cabin crew before we land. This to ensure everybody is seated and there's no loose carts or anything when we touch down.
Anyway, this time, we're getting super close to where we need to be, and the cabin is not secure yet.
The lead flight attendant calls us and lets us know a passenger is in the lavatory and refuses to come out. No reason given. At this point, we're minutes away from landing, so, the cabin crew unlocks the lavatory door from the outside (which is very easy to do, if you know how).
They find this dude still sitting on the toilet, with diarrhea everywhere. It's on his pants, his shoes, the floor...
At this point, we're on final approach. We can't land with a passenger in the toilet, but we can't send the poor guy back to his seat either.
Rules be darned, we ask the guy if he's okay with us landing while he's in the toilet. He is.
Minutes later, we're on the ground. Smooth landing. We let everyone off before him. Then we got him some towels from the cleaners for the poor guy to clean himself up a bit."
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"I went to Greece in 2010. You know what else happened in 2010?
A volcano erupted in Iceland. And all flights were canceled between North America and Northern Europe. Since I had a layover in Germany, this included my flight. So I had to buy new tickets last minute, trans-Atlantic, which went straight from New York to Athens. That was a huge expense.
Coming home was even worse.
On my return trip, I had a short layover in Atlanta. We're talking barely an hour. The flight from Athens to Atlanta is to date the longest flight I've ever been on. 16 hours. It topped the 12 hours of Seattle to Taipei and also the 12 hours of New York to Athens.
What the Delta website didn't tell me, what none of the employees who looked at my boarding passes told me, what they didn't tell us on the flight until we were 10 minutes from landing, is that Atlanta International Airport is one of three airports in the country that makes you go through extra security when flying in from overseas.
What kind of extra security, you ask? You have to go to baggage claim and get all your checked luggage. You have to go to customs. You have to recheck your bag and go through security again.
Remember, my layover was just under an hour, to begin with. My flight came in 10 minutes late. I spent 25 minutes waiting for my bags to come up in the baggage claim. I spent 20 minutes going through customs and security.
I then had to take a bus across the Tarmac because I was in the D terminal and I needed to be in the A terminal. At least, I reasoned, my relatively low-numbered gate (A7) would be close to the entrance, since (I assumed) they'd drop me off at A1.
When I got off the bus and entered the terminal, I looked at the nearest gate.
I sprinted the terminal, carry on bouncing on my back until I saw it.
With five minutes to spare.
And the plane was still on the Tarmac.
I ran up to the counter, boarding pass in hand, and told the woman standing there that I was there to board.
'Oh,' she replied, 'I'm sorry, but we've finished boarding. I cannot allow you on that plane.'
'But it's still right there,' I countered. 'Still connected via the bridge and everything. And I have my boarding pass.'
'I'm sorry, but boarding has finished,' she said again. 'You weren't here when we called your boarding group.'
I was incredulous. They had booked me an impossible connection and now they were penalizing me for it? I explained the situation to the employee.
'I just spent 16 hours on a plane from Athens,' I said, 'which came in less than an hour ago. Then they made me go through baggage claim (another 25 minutes of waiting), then customs and security, and then I came straight here. You saw me sprinting. It was impossible to be here any sooner.'
'There's nothing I can do without approval from my supervisor,' she said.
'Great!' I exclaimed. 'Can I speak with your supervisor?'
'I'm sorry, but he's onboard the plane,' she said, pointing out the window at the aircraft that was supposed to take me home.
By this time I was getting pretty frustrated and angry.
'Well, what are you going to do about this?' I asked.
'We'll put you on standby,' she said. 'If we have space, you can head out on the next plane.'
'And when will that be?'
'In seven hours.'
And that was that. 15 minutes later they retracted the entryway and my flight left without me.
After an additional seven hours of waiting (25 hours after I boarded my plane in Athens), I still didn't know if I was going to be on this flight. It was the last one of the night, and if I didn't make it, I'd be sticking Georgia overnight. That wouldn't have been so bad except that Delta wasn't going to comp me a hotel room since it was apparently my fault I missed my original flight. That means spending the night in the terminal.
The shift had changed and I was dealing with a different employee now, but she was no more helpful than the last. Every time I asked if I had a seat, she insisted she would call those of us flying standby by name. It did not deter me from asking. If I asked what my chances were of getting a seat, she would say 'it depends,' and leave it at that. This also didn't deter me from asking again.
As the departure time grew nearer, I started getting more and more nervous. Between each boarding group, I'd ask the status of standby and she'd say the same things.
Pretty soon everyone had boarded. It was 20 minutes past departure time and I'd pretty much given up, but then I heard her call my name.
I sprang up and boarded only to find that the plane was mostly empty. Maybe one seat out of every three was occupied."
During the last snow storm, they changed our flight a day before in anticipation for weather problems. A new flight had connection of only 40 minutes. That got delayed, too. We were promised that we'd make the next flight and if not, there were hourly flights in that airport. That turned out to be a lie, even though we made it to the gate before the plane departure, which departed 10 mins early. We were denied boarding and told that it was last flight of the day (we were told before it wasn't).
The only other option was to wait 5 DAYS in a random city they sent us to and they refused to offer any lodging. They advised us to get another ticket on other airlines and AA will refund us later. We did that, asked for the money back, and THEY ONLY REFUNDED $36.
They were the rudest agents I have ever spoken with. Oh, and did I mention their costumer relation agent justified not giving any compensation by saying, when you buy a ticket that doesn't guarantee that AA has to actually let you board a plane and fly; it's upon the company discretion to do so."