The world is huge

Don't miss any of it

Travel news, itineraries, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Airplane Horror Stories: Part II

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.

Look, Dear, There’s a Hole in the Plane

“Being from the East Coast, I often flew Eastern Airlines. 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

Mama Mia!

“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

Child’s Play

“I always say a silent prayer to the airplane gods that I don’t get stuck next to or around anyone with small children or babies. Well, this time the Pantheon did not hear my plea and I was stuck in a seat where directly in back of me were the kids from hell. My seat was kicked, food was thrown and my ears were assaulted to the point I had to put earplugs in. Everyone around me was suffering. The flight attendant was constantly telling the parents that they had to get the kids under control … they just stared blankly and didn’t have a clue.

“I went to the restroom and came back, but at the time didn’t notice that my movie camera and case were missing from my seat. Then I heard a CRASH and looked, and the brats had apparently helped themselves to my equipment, taken it out of the case and dropped it on the floor. I was livid. It cracked the casing so the battery no longer stayed inside. The parents took NO responsibility at all. They would not give me their name and personal information so I could have my insurance company contact them.

“When they deplaned, the whole back of the aircraft was a dumpster. Food, and anything else you can imagine, was flung all over the seats vacated by the family. The flight attendant was great, and the airline (TWA) took care of my camera and actually covered the cost of repairing it. They promptly moved me up to first class!” — LT Weezie

Party in the Sky

“These stories remind me of when I was flying the Turkish airlines, Turk Hava Yollari (THY) in the late 60s on internal flights. The unofficial motto was ‘Fly and Die on T-H-Y.’ One flight from Istanbul to Izmir was unbelievable. People carried huge suitcases onto the plane and just left them in the aisle. You literally had to climb over them to get by. My seat wouldn’t lock into upright and would completely recline into the person’s lap behind me if I didn’t sit straight upright and not lean on the seat. The only thing that made the flight okay was that most of the passengers were members of a large wedding party, in their finery, and there was a lot of singing and dancing (including one guy who stood on top of a huge suitcase and acted as the emcee). The bride was wandering around passing out candy.”

“I always noticed that whenever an announcement was made that a THY flight was landing, everyone cheered and clapped. I realized later that they were all amazed that the flight had made it.” — GrannyJ

He Meant He Wanted to Get Bombed

“I remember back in ’98 when I was coming back from a trip to Poland, some guy on the plane claimed that he had a bomb. Everybody started to panic. We had already landed in the airport, but since this person made this allegation we couldn’t get to our gate. So they boarded us on a bus and we waited and watched for three hours as all our luggage was removed from the plane and sniffed by a dog. No air conditioning in the bus and no food or anything.

“Turns out there was no bomb … the guy was just drunk and was mad they wouldn’t give him another beer.” — silverrose07

A Sweeping Solution

“While waiting (an hour and a half on the plane) to start taxiing, some members of our tour group had a bird’s-eye view of airport crew members attempting to start the left engine of the plane using a broom (yes, a floor-sweeping utensil). This did not work (and we were probably better off that way in spite of the long delay) and they never did get the left engine to start. I can only imagine what those sitting at the gate waiting for the next flight thought watching our flight crew’s primative attempt to ‘clean’ out and start our plane’s engines! — jessicadebra

How Scared Were You Really?!

“I have been a frequent traveler all my life and on a flight back in December, 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 had 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 reboard 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, 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

And Now for a Little Good News…

“It was June 2000. Our daughter in Atlanta was due to give birth in a few days and wanted her mom with her. We lived, and still do, in Miami Beach. She had booked a Delta flight for a few days before the due date. But these things don’t always happen on schedule, and our daughter called several days before her flight date to announce that contractions had started.

“It was just about 6 p.m. My wife already had a small bag packed. I called Delta and was told that their last Miami – Atlanta flight would leave at 8 p.m., was full and had a long waiting list. I told my wife what I’d just been told, and then said, get up and grab your bag, we’re going to the airport. She asked what good could that possibly do, and how did I expect to get her on the plane? Begging and pleading, I replied.

“We were out the door and on the road within minutes. For the first time ever, I parked in the expensive short-term garage area just opposite Delta’s terminal space, and we rushed to the counter. An employee heard our story and said he would go speak to someone. Perhaps 20 minutes later, a Delta supervisor came out. He heard our story, somehow realizing that we were telling the truth. I’ll get you on the flight, he told her. But this is the only time — don’t ever ask for something like this again.

“He jumped my wife over about 75 standbys. There was no change fee either. Five hours after our daughter called, she was astonished to see her mom walk through the door of her Atlanta hospital room. A few hours later, our grandson came into the world.” — RichardNika

Share your own airplane horror story in the comments below!

You May Also Like

Airport Security Q&A
10 Ways to Survive a Long-Haul Flight
5 Things You Shouldn’t Wear on a Plane

–written and compiled by Dan Askin

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From