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‘Flight from Hell’ Horror Story: We Have a Winner!

We asked you for your worst flight stories of all time, and you certainly delivered. From cancelled flights and incompetent staff to misadventures with vomit and other bodily fluids, we kind of never want to fly again. But we think this story with fire and ice deserves the SkyRoll prize we promised for the best (worst?) story.

“Back in 2008,” says Bruce Kaufman, our prize winner, “I was spending one to two weeks a month in Shanghai, China, commuting from Tampa. In December, I was having a pretty uneventful flight back from Shanghai, when about an hour outside of Chicago there was a faint smell of burning lubricant in the cabin. It was just bearable, but a concern. As we got closer to the airport the air quality in the plane started to get worse.

“The second the plane landed in Chicago, the crew opened doors, deployed the slides, and started an emergency evacuation onto the runway. I was shocked as some passengers grabbed their luggage and effects for the evacuation. I was only two rows behind the emergency exit and my only thought was that I wasn’t going to let my possessions get in the way of anyone else getting off the airplane. The only thing I took with me was my glasses as I headed for my turn down the slide.

“Now this was December in Chicago, there was a smattering of snow on the ground and the temperature was in the 20s. Many of the other passengers had followed directions and simply exited the aircraft. It was nearly an hour before the fire department and paramedics arrived. They moved the women, children and elderly into fire trucks and ambulances to keep warm. The rest of us huddled around and watched as the fire department tried mostly in vain to figure out how to board the plane with the emergency slides deployed. A little humor was provided by one fireman who kept trying and failing to climb up the inflatable slide.

“Eventually some airport buses came and took us to the terminal, but as this was an international flight we were all confined in immigration. Many of us did not have our passports and it was hours before we were electronically cleared through immigration. The next obstacle was luggage. Everything on the plane had to be manually unloaded after the plane was deemed safe. Again the delay was several hours. Thankfully no one was hurt, all our luggage was retrieved and once we were rebooked on new connecting flights we were allowed to safely continue our way. To add insult to injury, we were only offered $300 off our next flight on the airline—an airline I avoid flying to this day.”

Got a story that can top this one? Leave it in the comments (for glory only—no prizes this time).

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