Airplanes are meant to be an easy way to get from one destination to another, but sometimes things don't go as planned. From unexpected emergencies to unruly people, instances can arise that cause issues for the passengers. Luckily, most airlines are willing to compensate those people for their troubles.
People on Quora share the incidents on an airplane that got them a good compensation. Content has been edited for clarity.
Everyone Was Thankful For Him
“I was at the San Diego airport waiting in line to check in at the gate. There’s a man asking everyone if the flight is going to be late because he can’t be late, and when I say everyone, I mean anyone he saw. It’s crowded as that airport always is. I tell him I don’t know if it’s late; he is dressed like a 1960 basketball player in short shorts looking crazier than he’s acting.
I get my boarding pass and head towards the only open seat and sit down next to a young girl and mom on one side and a duffle bag on the other.
Suddenly, I hear, ‘Hey hey that’s my seat’ (yes it’s him again). So I ask him if that’s his duffle bag and he said yes. So I asked him, ‘We’ll decide do you want a seat or does your duffle bag?’
He said he wants the seat I’m in so I said ‘Move your bag then, because that seat is mine.’
So he sits down and I’m pretty angry. I begin to tell him what type of idiot he has been, and about a minute later the boarding pass lady comes over and asks me for my ID and boarding pass. I immediately thought I just got kicked off the flight because I wasn’t very quiet while I was telling the guy he was an idiot.
So I then told him, ‘If I just got kicked off this flight, you’ll only get on it if I die first.’
The woman came back and said, ‘You have been upgraded to first class.’
They were so happy I reeled that guy in. This was the first and only time I ever flew first class.”
Being Kind Truly Does Pay Off
“I was flying Alaska Air 10 years or so ago, back when my company actually allowed us to travel for work. I was flying out of Seattle to Tucson on a Friday night for some strange reason that has completely lost me. I almost always made it a point to use our corporate policy that allowed me to stay the night of a day I’d worked and fly out the next morning.
I had a 5:30 pm flight. As I walked up to the gate, I noticed a sign that said they were looking for volunteers because they were overbooked. Having no need to be back in Tucson that night, I signed up.
As the flight was boarding I found out they had 15 volunteers but they needed 16 and one man was booted. I chatted with him briefly, and he was scheduled to run in a marathon the next morning.
After the flight had boarded, I happened to be the first person in line when they called for us to come up.
I said, ‘We are all voluntary but this gentleman was involuntary. Take care of him and I’ll wait.’
Everyone else heard this and stepped aside as he walked to the front of the line. I went over and sat down and read a magazine. Went back up when the line was gone. She thanked me and gave me my paperwork. It was for a flight later that night and I didn’t realize it until later but I had been upgraded to first-class as well as getting my voucher.
You treat the crew nicely and be a decent person and you get rewarded.”
He Saved Them A Lot Of Money
“I have had three incidents where I treated a medical emergency and prevented an emergency landing. Emergency landings not only change every passenger’s schedule but cost the airlines up to $40,000 as they often have to dump fuel and pay airport fees for emergency landings.
On this particular incident, an elderly man with diabetes presented that he may be going into a diabetic coma. His testing equipment had failed and he was unconscious. Myself, (an EMT) and a nurse began accessing him. To complicate matters, the medical phone from the plane was not working so I could not relay information directly to the airline doctor on the ground. I had to relay to the pilot, the pilot to the ground to the doctor, then reverse to get back to me.
I was convinced that it was dehydration and not a diabetic coma. So we found a diabetic test kit from another passenger as we prepared to divert the flight for an emergency landing. We started to hydrate and cool him and as he started to come around, we had him sip apple juice. We were able to prevent the emergency landing and continued to our destination in Orlando which delighted all the passengers.
Alaska Airlines gave me a free drink as compensation. I usually don’t drink on flights as I want to be ready if there is a medical or security (I am also a reserve police officer) emergency. My biggest reward is/was that at the gate as the medical crew removed the passenger, I (and my wife) disembarked with the passenger to give them the short report as all the passengers had to stay seated and wait for us to get off.”
Good Thing They Stepped In
“I was on a flight from Houston to Amsterdam sitting in economy class when I noticed an older lady who needed some help from a stewardess but she didn’t speak nor understand English. Neither the stewardess nor anyone else could understand the lady, and shortly there was an announcement on the PA system asking for anyone who knows Polish to come upfront. No one went upfront. However, I knew a bit of Ukrainian language which is somewhat similar to Polish.
By then, anyone could see and hear that the lady was getting very nervous and tense because nobody could understand her. I volunteered to translate. After trying a different combination of words, I was able to figure out that the lady was afraid that she will not be able to find her connecting gate in Amsterdam and will miss her flight to Poland.
The stewardess assured her they were aware of the situation, and someone will meet her after the plane lands and she will be escorted to her connecting gate.
Feeling pretty good about helping a fellow passenger, I returned to my seat. A few minutes later, a stewardess came over to my seat and asked me to get my carry-on luggage and to follow her. It was a Boeing 747 with an upstairs business class area where I was deposited for the remainder of the flight.
Keep in mind that transatlantic business class seats from Houston are really expensive, around $5000 USD or more. It ended up being a win-win situation for all involved.”
This Guy Could Not Catch A Break
“As part of my career, I have flown over 1 million miles, mostly in North America. So, I have had lots of interesting experiences. This one was a little unique.
I needed to fly from San Jose to Seattle to attend a lunch meeting, so I planned to catch the 6:30 AM flight to Seattle and return on the 4:30 PM flight. It was a rare non-rainy day in Seattle, so I just had my laptop bag and away I went. This was a last-minute trip and I had the pleasure of getting assigned a non reclining seat in the last row. But at least it was an aisle.
The flight was noneventful, and I dozed off, as usual, waking up as I heard the flight attendant approaching with the beverage service. As she moved the cart towards my row, something happened to the wheel. It either twisted or got stuck and the cart stopped. She pushed and nothing happened and then she pushed again, more violently. The two metal containers on the top of the cart holding the hot coffee flew off and dumped their contents all over me. It got the entire left side of my body and as I was wearing a seatbelt, I couldn’t move to get out of the way.
Pandemonium kind of broke out, with flight attendants bringing me napkins and wipes so I could start getting cleaned up. Then the pain started. I had burnt the left side of my face, my left hand, my left thigh, and groin area. They started bringing ice and trying to deal with the situation, with one saying, ‘You can’t be burnt. This is Alaska Airlines. Our coffee is not that hot.’
As the plane was full, I was forced to sit in a seat that was rather damp. The rest of the flight I filled out forms, applied ice to the affected areas, and enjoyed a first-class muffin.
Upon landing, I deplaned and at the end of the jetway, there was a full medical response team waiting for me. There were two paramedics and an engine company of firemen decked out in full gear. Boots, helmets, long yellow jackets and a stretcher.
I was surprised, but I guess the pilot called and arranged the welcoming party. I stood there as the paramedics examined me, having everyone in the terminal walking by, staring, wondering what is going on. They applied a topical spray to my face and hand and then said, ‘Please remove your pants.’
I looked at the female paramedic and said ‘I’m not taking my pants off in the middle of the airport.’ We had a brief discussion, I signed forms stating that I refused transport to the hospital and further treatment and I departed the circus area.
I looked horrible and definitely unpresentable for a customer meeting. My blue dress shirt and pants had coffee stains running down the left side. As I worked my way to the car rental, everybody was staring at me.
Fortunately, there was a large mall a couple of exits up from SeaTac. So I pulled in and waited for Neiman Marcus to open. I explained my situation, purchased some very nice clothes and waited in a changing room, sitting in my underwear while the tailor hemmed my new pants and ironed my shirt. It was 10:30 and I was good to go. At 11:15 the customer called and canceled the lunch meeting (Ironic). I spent the rest of the day hanging around the office applying an ice pack to my face and hand.
But wait — there is more.
When I got to the airport for my return, I shared my story with the agent and naturally got a first-class upgrade. I was sitting in seat 1A, next to a clumsy oaf who managed to spill his drink all over the right side of my body and my new clothes. It was a day.
A lawyer from Alaska called me a week later and offered me 100,000 frequent flyer miles to settle the incident. Since I traveled virtually every week, I just kind of laughed.
I ended up with some minor burns, a couple of days of discomfort, a business class upgrade, some free new clothes (Alaska paid), $5000 for my trouble and a decent story.”
The Attendant Really Appreciated This
“I used to live in Japan as an expatriate and traveled back and forth to the US frequently. As this was a long flight, my company flew me, business class.
On one flight back, I was in the line at my connecting flight to Tokyo in Chicago. There was a couple in front of me screaming at the attendant as there was a seating issue. One of the two had a business class seat and the other a seat in economy, even though they had purchased two business class seats. The attendant offered them seats on a flight an hour later, but the couple wasn’t having any of it.
So, I stepped forward and offered my seat as the extra hour wasn’t a big inconvenience for me. The look of relief on the attendant’s face was considerable. After she reassigned their seats and they stepped away, the attendant thanked me profusely.
With a smile on her face, she asked if it was okay if she upgraded me to first-class as well as provide me with access to the international first-class lounge. If you haven’t been in an international first-class, the best way to describe the experience is similar to eating and sleeping at a Ritz Carlton 35,000 feet in the air. Needless to say, my return home trip was a treat as I was rarely upgraded.”
This Was Such A Nice Gesture
“I was due to visit the USA for the first time in my life, and my scheduled flight was on September 18th, 2001. After watching the events of exactly one week earlier and waiting with bated breath, I was relieved to find that my flight was the first being operated by that airline following the tragedy. To my surprise, there was only a handful of other passengers on the flight and, onboarding, I was ushered straight into the first class by the Cabin Crew Manager who was greeting the passengers as we boarded.
When the meals were being served, it turned out that my first choice from the menu was not available; that mattered not one iota, since the alternative choice was equally palatable.
As I was preparing to disembark at Boston, I was presented with a bottle of bubbles ‘as a thank you for being so patient and understanding about my choice of meal.’
Actually, I’m not keen on bubbles, and this extra item to carry through the airport was, frankly, a burden I could have quite managed without – but my hostess in Boston appreciated the bubbly and I had a warm fuzzy feeling inside for the whole of my holiday. I was gratuitously upgraded on my flight home as well, although I believe that was just serendipity.”
A Delayed Flight Turned Into Much More
“In the summer of 2018, my wife and I were returning to the US from Europe and flying Iceland Air that trip. There is one stop in Reykjavik, Iceland during the trip where there’s a change in planes.
After deplaning in Iceland, we were in the terminal for about an hour and then boarded the plane for the rest of the journey. After cabin doors were closed, we sat at the gate for another 30 minutes while there was an issue being checked out by the flight crew and mechanics.
The issue was deemed to be something that could not be repaired so we were required to deplane again and a new plane was going to be brought to the gate. We received regular updates, and after 90 minutes received food vouchers to use in the airport. Another hour passes before we learn that the flight needs to be canceled because they are no longer able to get to the final US destination prior to the Immigration office closing (which meant we had no way of entering the country through passport control).
Another hour waiting for luggage and then through passport control, a very disorganized team was getting the passengers to busses which would take us to a hotel for the night. By this time it was 10 pm but with the midnight sun still up, the hour bus ride to the hotel turned into a wonderful site seeing adventure as we had never been to Iceland previously.
After a good night of sleep, we learned that the bus back to the airport would leave around 1 pm so we took a couple of hours to explore and enjoyed the town and the river that runs through it before returning to the hotel. After asking other passengers if they had been notified of a rebooking, we were told that we had to call customer support to get the rebooking completed. (a bit naïve on our part!).
After hearing that some were booked on the direct flight we wanted to be on and others had to go through other cities before their final destination, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would not be going direct as the seats would already be taken. An hour on hold finally got us to customer support. When the lady heard my story, understood exactly what happened and within a few minutes had us booked on the 4:30 pm flight out. It was a direct flight to our final destination no less! I thanked her and didn’t bother to ask about the seats or if they were even together.
Arrived at the airport, checked our bags, received paper tickets and only then found out that we were seated together in row two, which was first class! We had a wonderful (and uneventful) flight home.
As we were waiting for our luggage, a fellow passenger who we had met at the hotel mentioned that we needed to remember to file a claim with the airline regarding the delay as per European law, there was a reimbursement. A couple of months later we received €1200 as compensation for the two of us due to the delay!
I have had very few issues while flying so this was certainly an exception, but, it was one we would gladly repeat given the manner in which it turned out.
The short stay in Iceland also prompted us to return to Iceland for a vacation summer of 2019 which we enjoyed greatly, but no first-class cabin for us that trip!”
This Airline Went The Extra Mile
“This happened during my trip to Toronto in December last year. First, my luggage was delayed and arrived two days later. Next, I was informed that my return flight had been rescheduled. So, instead of a 23-hour layover, I would have a 47-hour stopover in Beijing.
Both were hardly inconveniences to me really as I had my carry-on packed with sensible essentials to last me a week (yes, in anticipation of my luggage going astray, which it did!). I was in no hurry to get home, so, that 47-hour stopover just meant that I had more time to explore Beijing. It kinda turned out to be a second mini holiday of sorts. Still, I had travel insurance and, of course, put in my claims and ended up being rather handsomely compensated with an amount that was about 2/3 of the cost of my return airfare.
Plus, I was pleasantly surprised by the airlines when I arrived in Beijing. There was a staff waiting for me who told me they’ve booked a room for me at a nearby airport hotel. She helped get through immigration, brought me drinks, waited, and helped me with my luggage. She even brought me to the transfer desk and saw me off. Then, when I arrived at the hotel, my room and dinner were waiting for me.
I’m not used to that kind of attention, especially since I didn’t exactly pay top dollar for my tickets, but it was nice and definitely quicker to have the assistance instead of having to figure out everything myself.”
Everyone Showed Their Appreciation
“I was on a flight from Boston to Las Vegas for a bachelor party in the spring of 2019. It was on an airline that we’ll call, I don’t know, Spirit Airlines. I was in the third row with Bose noise-canceling headphones.
About halfway through the flight, I noticed a big commotion. It turned out the woman behind me was having what the flight attendants thought was a stroke (turned out to be a series of seizures). The young lady in that row was a graduate student in a physician’s assistant program. She adeptly helped the flight attendants as we made an emergency landing in Chicago, and they got on the intercom looking for a doctor on board (it was Spirit, didn’t even think there would be a physician, but it turns out there are doctors as cheap as I am). The young lady and the team sprawled the woman out in the front row to administer oxygen and other care, displacing the people in that row.
Once we landed, the woman was greeted by paramedics and stretchered out After we took off and finally landed in Vegas, only like two hours behind schedule, the flight attendants gave the displaced men from row one, the doctor, and the young lady who helped out vouchers for a free flight. All of them, except the young lady, held on to them for about 10 seconds before handing it over to the young PA student who helped out. She was that strange combination of grateful and emotional and I just did what anybody would do all wrapped into one. So for helping out and plying her schooling, this woman now has four free flights.
This story has a happy ending for the woman with the medical emergency too (and how I know it was seizures). On my last day in Vegas, my friends’ flights were before mine, so I was out walking the strip on my way back from a steak and eggs breakfast. I bump into the lady and her husband! She got treatment and they had just gotten into Vegas the night before. She wasn’t 100%, she said, but they were determined to have a little rest and relaxation after all of that. She apologized for delaying my flight, which of course needed no apology, and said Spirit had been excellent and comped them their eventual flight out to Vegas.”
A Short Flight, But Worth It
“My dad used to work for an Anglo-French company, so we got used to him popping off to Paris for a couple of days, once a month or so.
On one such trip, he was waiting to board the return flight only to be told there was a problem with the aircraft, and take-off would be delayed. This dragged on for some time until it became clear the aircraft wasn’t going anywhere quickly.
A new plane was found but was smaller than the original one. Would six passengers please volunteer to stay behind, to be put on the next flight?
Despite – or perhaps because of? – the wife and three children waiting for him at home, Dad selflessly volunteered.
However, in the time it took to take the luggage off the original flight and board the new plane, the original fault was fixed. The passengers were on the smaller plane, but the original plane was also required back in Manchester, so the six lucky passengers were loaded on – with their cases in hand – and invited to sit in first class. Drinks were on the house.
Because there were only six of them, and they’d been able to take everything on board with them, they cleared Manchester airport quickly, and he got home before he would have done if he’d taken the replacement flight.
His only regret was that he’d only had a two–hour flight to enjoy first-class.”