Airplane Horror Stories: Please Tell Us About Your Worst Flying Experiences

airplane1I haven’t been on an airplane since 2008. It’s crazy, because I used to fly plenty: on account of my job and (get this!) actual disposable income. Nowadays? I just drive back and forth to the heroin capital of the northeast every day, sporting a perma-scowl and hoping they won’t be serving stuffed shells in the cafeteria tonight. God, how I hate the stuffed shells… Yes, this is what my life has become.

Anyway, I thought I’d offer the opportunity to you guys today to share your horror stories, as it pertains to flying, airports, etc. I have a couple of quickies, and you can take it from there. Let’s get started, shall we?

My worst flight ever was from Los Angeles to Atlanta, in early 1997. We were coming back to the east coast for the first time after moving to California, to visit my parents and our beloved Atlanta. It was an absolute disaster.

The older boy was a baby then, so young we didn’t even buy him a ticket. Toney or I held him on our laps the whole time. And, with impeccable timing, he came down with some kind of sickness as the flight was preparing to leave: a type of sickness that makes a baby shit, and shit, and shit.

He was fussy as we boarded the plane, and everybody was shooting us dirty looks. But this was during the five year or so period of my life when I expected everyone to just suck it up: “They’re babies, you… self-centered so-and-sos! Wow. It’s truly sad, what’s become of our culture.” Needless to say, I long ago returned to my default setting: “Those people REALLY need to make that little brat shut its goddamn Goldfish hole. I’m about to lose my fucking mind.”

I think we were at cruising altitude when his ass went off the first time. It sounded like somebody took a squeeze bottle of mustard, laid it sideways on the ground, and jumped on it with both feet. The funk was nothing short of terrific, and rolled like the Indiana Jones boulder down the aisle. People were shouting, and burying their faces in their neighbors’ shoulders.

And as soon as Toney got him cleaned up, there was another tan and powerful blast: liquid and aromatic. This just kept repeating, over and over, for what seemed like hours. We were mortified, and kept apologizing to everyone. Some were understanding, and many were not. It was awful.

Exhausted and defeated, we rented a room at a Red Roof Inn on North Druid Hills in Atlanta, which was one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. Half the square footage was taken up by a big box, through which the elevator traveled. So, we had no space… and every time someone used the elevator it sounded like a train was coming through there. ‘Round the clock…

The next morning, Toney woke up sick. And by the time we arrived at my parents’ house (in Charlotte back then), I was also feeling not-so-great. Believe it or not, both my parents were also in the grip of some sort of pukey disorder, so it was a fantastic trip. One for the ages.

Another story that leaps to mind happened a long time ago, before we had kids. Toney and I were at the Atlanta airport, preparing to jet off to God knows where. We were in one of the gift shops, killing time, and I noticed a rack of Playboy and Penthouse, and that sort of thing.

I checked, and Toney was way across the store. So… I thought I’d take a quick peek. And the moment I lifted a magazine off the rack, the entire thing collapsed. The shelf itself came loose, for reasons unknown, and made a super-loud crashing noise.

Every head turned my way, and I think the Muzak stopped playing. I was standing there, surrounded by piles of porn, with a copy of Hustler in my hand. The expression on my face must’ve been memorable, because half the people instantly busted out laughing. Including Toney. She laughed the hardest, and couldn’t stop for a long time. Sheesh.

I also had several harrowing flights involving extreme turbulence, once on a shuddering and creaking puddle-jumper, coming out of Cincinnati. Scary!

But what about you? Do you have any airplane horror stories? If so, please share.

And I’ll see you guys again soon, real soon.

Have a great day!

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  1. Knucklehead says

    Wait – are you saying it’s been 7 years since you guys went to England? Was that the last time you were on a plane? Please tell me you took a ship to England and that it was WAY less than 7 years ago.

    My mind has just completely shut down. I’ll have to write my engine exploding in mid-air over Greenland horror story once I’ve contained myself. How can that be 7 years ago??

  2. Flight from cincy to Houston had to divert to Austin due to some hurricane and then the spoilers malfunctioned. I was catching a different airline in Houston to get to okc and for once had a checked bag so I couldn’t leave that flight and they couldn’t get my stuff because it was in baggage. My next flight was on Southwest so there were options if I could get my shit.
    Eventually they were going to bus us all to Houston so I was able to get my shit hop on Southwest and get home. It was a long ass day and I was hungover. Blurgh.

    Most of my flight experiences are pretty awesome.

    And wow, England was that long ago?

  3. Jazzbone Swirly says

    I’ll have to think about the worst flight ever, but I have an easy answer for the best flight: I just got bumped to first class on a trip from JFK to Madrid last month. With seats that became fully flat bedding, it was very nice indeed!

    • NICEEEEEEE you hit the airport lottery. I was bumped once to Business Class on a flight from LA to NY in the mid 80s.

  4. I’ve been pretty lucky with air travel (also, I’m pretty laid back, so I don’t get overly excited when something goes wrong). I’ve had some long, unexplained flight delays and once I had to stay in another city for an extra day due to a hurricane closing the airports. Another time my husband and I got on our plane and discovered that our boarding passes were for a row that didn’t actually exist on that particular plane. We ended up missing our connecting flight after that and it took all day to get home instead of a few hours.

    On my most recent trip, my traveling companion boarded before me and then the passengers started to stack up in the jetway. She texted me to tell me that another passenger had just vomited all over the front row and himself, so we all had to wait while the word spread slowly and the plane crew dashed around cleaning everything up.

  5. I don’ t think I have ever had any bad flights. The first time I flew – you could still smoke on airplanes.

  6. I’m not sure if my worst experience makes the category but for someone who doesn’t fly often it certainly was odd…I was on a fight returning from Florida with a Georgia layover…we hit severe turbulence and people were asked to buckle up so they wouldn’t be thrown from their seats…we were all the most awful shade of green and many were beginning to vomit…some people were screaming…my lifesaver was the pilot sitting next to me – yes, in coach – going over his next flight plan with absolutely no concern about the turbulence. He made a comment about how he had experienced much, much worse than this (?) and his calm demeanor made me feel better. Once it was over he then asked me what hotel I was staying at….I wonder about a man who would try to pick up a green and dry heaving woman.

  7. Knucklehead says

    Well, I’m done pricing Geritol online so here’s my nighmare:

    We were flying to Italy from San Francisco and my Lufthansa flight ended up being flown by United. I fucking HATE United, but had no choice, so I just bitched about it under my breath for the first third of the flight. Somewhere over Iceland (Greenland? Who the hell knows) the plane jerked wildly to the left and I saw flames out the window on the other side of the plane (it was dark out). Captain gets on the loudspeaker and says “We’ve just blown an engine and will be getting you to Frankfurt as quickly as possible”
    I was popping Valium like TicTacs and have little recollection of the rest of the flight. One of the flight attendants looked to be in a semi-mummified state, so I asked her when we were getting off the plane if that happened very often. She told me she had been flying for 34 years and that was the first time.
    Needless to say, I have never boarded a United aircraft since.

  8. I don’t know if anyone has ever posted this here before, but this is the most hilarious/awful airplane horror story I’ve ever encountered:

    • Ruthless Dee says

      I keep that story bookmarked in case I need my sinuses cleared. I snort every time I read it.

  9. Steve in WV says

    I have only flown a few times, all uneventful, except for one flight headed into Charlotte when someone on board suffered a medical condition (???). We were close enough to Charlotte that we didn’t have to divert. Once we touched down, the plane whipped into a gate so quick I didn’t even have time to gather my shit before we were deplaning.

    Not much of a story, but it’s all I got.

  10. Flying from San Francisco to Austin. Stop in Phoenix on the way. On the way to Austin from Phoenix we had to make an emergency landing in Lubbock because of some opening on the plane or something. Got to see that landing happen firetrucks and ambulances surrounding the runway. Luckily everything was fine w/ that. However, Lubbock’s airport is (or was at the time) quite small. No extra planes to fly us out directly to Austin. They were going to have to put a few of us at a time on other flights going to other places that would then redirect to Austin. Ended up going from Lubbock to Dallas and then finally to Austin. All of this in one day. Oh, and this was a business trip for a sales team, of which I was the assistant at the time and the one who had arranged the travel. Awesome.

  11. The Red Roof Inn on N. Druid Hills. Walking distance to the Pink Pony. Damn, those were some fun times. There used to be a little dive named Fuzzy’s real close to there also, had a lot of fun in there as well, always had a local band in there playing.

  12. Wow, that Red Roof in on North Druid Hills Road is still there but it’s a Red Roof Inn Plus now (no idea what makes it a “Plus”). Now I will think of you every time I drive by it…

    • johnthebasket says

      “Miss America” type banner protecting toilet, and glass instead of plastic to drink out of? I’m just guessing.


    • I think they tore the original one down, shortly after our stay there. The new version can’t help but be a “plus.”

  13. Not a horrifying experience, but it was on a flight back from England in fact. My cousin, her husband and I did this whirlwind 8 day excursion through England, Scotland and Wales. I think we slept a total of 9 minutes the entire time. On the flight back – when all we wanted to do was sleep, I had some drunken old biddy sitting directly behind me. It seemed like every 23 minutes she had to get up to piss, and she would grab hold of my headrest, yanking it back so she could get her stumble bum legs beneath her and into a standing position. As the flight wore on, and her guzzling continued, it was getting harder for her to hoist herself up so she was practically wrapping her arms around my headrest. It took every fiber not to haul off and punch the shit out of her.

  14. Worst flight ever that comes after only a minute of sorting through admittedly hazy memories (YOU try being as old as me sometime!):

    Happily seated next to a window waiting for the plane to take off, but we wait, and wait, and wait. Needless to say this was in the summer, the A/C was not on, and folks were getting cranky after about 30 minutes of being buckled in, ready to go, and going noplace. My mind was in an OK place because there seat next to me was empty and I looking forward to stretching out during the flight. However, at about 45 minutes into waiting, a very large sweaty woman comes squeezing through the door, huffing and apologizing and doing her best to resemble a gigantic pink candy almond gone slightly soft. The plane door thuds shut. SHE was what we were waiting for. Good grief.

    Then, horrifyingly, she fixes her gaze on me. Comfy ol’ me in my neighborless seat. Her eyes brightened, and she lumbered down the aisle, to me, glowing with sweat and a desire to make me not only her assigned seatmate, but her friend. Somehow she squeeeezed into our row, shifted some body parts around to wedge herself into the seat, the proceeded to lift a FLAP OF THIGH MEAT onto my lap. Hoist, plop, there was a 20-pound hunk of pink velour’ed fat seeping its heat into my thigh, which was bad enough, but it, and she, smelled of slightly rancid bacon fat, that when coupled with her elevated body temperatures, semi-moldy clothing funk, and ketone breath was enough to ‘gag a maggot’ as we used to say. It was awful.

    I became rather surly in that moment, averted my head, and chased sleep as fast as I could so that at least while being unconscious the heat and smell would overwhelm me into nausea. Because I HATE throwing up, especially on airplanes.

    • Same thing happened to me once on a flight from Indy to LA for business around twenty years ago. I was in the last row window seat with another business type guy in the aisle seat. They were making final preps when this easily 350-400 lb guy in a tank top and sweats struggles his way down the aisle. He had to keep doing this twist motion back and forth to fit down the aisle and he kept heading right to us. The other guy lets him and he doesn’t fit unless the armrests are up! He was taking up a third of both of our seats. The aisle guy went to the stewardess but she said there was nothing she could do there was no place else to move anyone. To top it off, after about five minutes the stench of his sweaty body odor began to attack. Without a doubt it was the worst and what seemed like the longest flight I’ve ever been on.

      • I’m so sorry. I had hoped I was the only one.

        • Dont ever get near the man who has eaten curry his whole life. That shit comes out the pores! Daughter and I had to breathe through our shirts collars the whole trip.

  15. Jerry in WV says

    In 1983, USAF flight from Pittsburg to San Antonio . About 3/4’s thru the flight and there was a loud bang and the humm of the plane changed. The pilot came on the speaker and said we had an engine blow, but we were going to continue to our destination. Kinda freaky.

  16. I flew out of Columbus once and as we were taxiing out, the plane stopped just short of the runway. The captain came over the PA and told us we were going to hold up for a few minutes as a small storm cell was approaching the airport. Everyone grumbled. Within a couple of minutes you could see it get dark, the plane started rocking and the rain flew sideways. After a few minutes it passed. Everybody on the plane gave the captain a big round of applause.

  17. Erica in Charlotte says

    I was carrying my daughter (age 4 months) through the Tennessee Aquarium, strapped tightly to my chest in a carrier. She was wearing footed pajamas – thankfully, as it turned out. About 2 minutes into the start of our descent down a very long, endless spiral walkway through the aquarium, I felt her little body rumbling against mine. Then the smell hit me. Also the instant HEAT.

    Had to make a very quick walk down through the spiral, elbowing people aside, because the restrooms were inconveniently located in the basement, if memory serves. Got there, unstrapped her – both our outfits were yellow with baby poo. The feet of her PJs had caught a good bit of it, which had prevented us from leaving a trail through the place.

    Got a change of clothes out of the diaper bag – but there was not one fucking baby wipe to be found. It was December, so cold water and industrial-grade paper towels in a chilly restroom seemed cruel. My husband went out to beg wipes off passing parents, and returned with two, grudgingly donated by two separate parents (though many more had been begged). Come on, folks – DIAPER KARMA will get you.

    Anyway. We did what we could to mop up the damage, and by then, I was in no mood to see the rest of the fish or whatever. The end.

    • Lesson learned: never take your kids anywhere until they are able to tell you they need to ‘go.’

      Darn you for wanting to expose your children to ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ and such.

    • I had a very similar experience in Chattanooga. We both ended up having to change clothes. How does the poo always manage to go UP a baby’s back? It stopped just short of his head, thankfully, or I would have had to shampoo his hair in the bathroom sink. I would have shared wipes with you! Something about travel always upset his stomach, so we experienced blowouts all over the country. It made me very sympathetic.

      • Seemed like every time my daughter shit up her back some sweet old lady would bend over the stroller “oh what a sweet baby” and jerk back from the smell.

    • aileen in jackson ms says

      I so remember this!

  18. Ron from Pa says

    Was living in Buffalo. Taking a dream vacay to the BVI. Get up, snow storm. (of course it’s fucking Buffalo) We had several connectors, 1st to Miami, then puddle jump to Toratola, so this wasn’t going to do. My wife, the genius that she is, gets on her iPhone finds a flight to Charlotte out of Pittsburg. We drive to Pitt, catch that flight. Along the way she finds Charlotte to Miami to Tortola. Get to Miami late, missed the flight out to island. She books a flight to Puerrto Rico, last flight out for the night. So we spend the night in PR and puddle jump to island next morning. Total travel time? 28 hours. But I did win a couple grand in PR in the little casino that was in the hotel. So that eased the pain a little.

  19. I was on this flight from LA to Atlanta in ’97 and these people had this baby…….nah, just kidding. I’ve been pretty lucky with most of my flights. Had one return flight last year from Myrtle Beach to Atlantic City. Seems that the area was socked in by some kind of super fog and the pilot was nice enough to let us know that we would be in a holding pattern for a while. A half hour later we’re still circling, and we’re all wondering just how much extra fuel that plane was packing when the pilot comes back on and says that there’s still no visibility so they would decide in a few minutes “where we’re going to land”. Great, all bets were on Philadelphia, an hour or so from AC, where our car was parked – and we were also a little unsure as to how they were going to get us back there. Then, all of a sudden, the pilot comes back on and says this: “It appears that there is a small window of clearing over Atlantic City right now so we’re going to try to land”. Really??? “TRY”??? Not the word I needed to hear to inspire confidence. It was the only flight I’ve been on where everyone broke out in applause when those wheels touched down.

  20. North Druid Hills is a cool name. I wonder if any Druids hang around. there.

  21. In July 2000, my mom, my boyfriend at the time, and I were scheduled to board an a.m. flight from Harrisburg to Chicago O’Hare for a connecting flight to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. Boarding was delayed a bit, so we waited and waited. Then, after we boarded the small-ish jet (just two seats on each side of the aisle), takeoff was delayed. We sat on the tarmac for an additional 2-3 HOURS. No one was permitted to leave. After takeoff, we were schedule to land in Chicago about 1.5 hours later. Not too bad, right? Wrong!

    We neared Chicago and seemed to circle and circle. After a ridiculous amount of time (hours) elapsed, we landed at Indianapolis instead of Chicago but were not permitted to leave the plane unless we had no intention to reboard, and we sat for a really freakin’ long time before taking off again.

    After flying back to, and circling around, Chicago again, the pilot announced something about a holding pattern and made a vague, unconvincing reference to weather conditions. After circling for hours more, the pilot said she would ” . . . *try* to fly to Wisconsin” but wasn’t sure if there was ENOUGH FUEL! I figured that we were flying on fumes at that point, considering that the initial flight was only supposed to be 1.5 hours in duration and I hadn’t noticed anyone servicing the plane in Indianapolis with more fuel or anything. Also, the pilot’s voice could barely contain her nervousness and made me believe we were in dire straits.

    Flight attendants passed out some water and snacks at one point but only half the passengers received them because they RAN OUT (naturally, I was not one of the recipients). I started to cry at one point, as I seriously thought we would drop from the sky and die. I started to bargain with the universe: “If you let me live, I promise I will [insert virtuous behavior here].”

    After we were most of the way to Wisconsin, we must have turned around and headed back toward Chicago. I was a wreck, because I knew that we couldn’t go much longer, and yet we remained in the air for another hour or so.

    Finally, we landed in Chicago, and to this day, I maintain that the pilot must have used running-out-of-fuel as a tactic to bump us to the front of the holding pattern/landing queue, as she decided we would come down one way or the other!

    All told, we were on that small jet from Harrisburg to Chicago for NINE FREAKING HOURS!!! These days, this kind of shit would make the news.

    To add insult to injury, after we exited the plane in Chicago, not soul could be found to help us rebook another flight to Santa Ana (let alone compensate us for the horrific experience). We ran around the gargantuan airport begging for help. Miraculously, we somehow eventually found someone to book us on the last flight out that night, but not before running as fast as we possibly could to make it on time (luckily, this was pre-TSA, so we could hop on last-minute). Then, it was another 4-5 hours to Santa Ana. How we didn’t all get blood clots and die, I’ll never know.

    I wrote complaint letters to American Scarelines and a few consumer advocacy groups. Interestingly, it was a consumer advocate group that somehow convinced the airline that our experience was worth compensation, and in the mail we received . . . wait for it . . . $50 vouchers for future flights. Frankly, I would have preferred a giant photo of a middle finger.

    Needless to say, I haven’t flown American Scarelines since 2000. My last flight of any kind was in 2007, and that’s perfectly fine with me.

    • Pam, that is the most horrific, yet somehow funny, air travel story I have ever heard! Glad you’re you’re here to tell it!

  22. Flight from Tampa back to DC in 2010 or 11. I had to race like a pisshorse, but they were boarding and I thought, it’s only a two hour flight. Of course it’s turbulence the whole way, with long queues of people ignoring the seatbelt sign waiting for the crapper, and I end up not gaining access. We arrive at IAD soon enough, and proceed to circle endlessly – a storm or something. Finally the pilot comes on the PA to announce that we’re running low on fuel and will divert to Harrisburg.

    We land and taxi to some isolated patch of pavement – not a gate, since this is unscheduled. A fuel truck comes out, and those pax who were originally bound for Harrisburg are allowed to escape the Cigar Tube. I contemplated getting out and renting a car to drive home, but didn’t. Finally we head back to Virginia at about 3000 feet altitude so the airline can avoid a pressurization cycle, dank air circulating through the cabin the whole time. And I still have to piss.

  23. Had to be my recent flight back from Europe. We had to wait for lame ass flight from Liberia to connect and lucky me gets to sit next to a brother who kept coughing. Boy was I glad when he finally got off in Texas. I think the bastard gave me the flu.

    Does anyone know what strain of flu makes your tear ducts bleed?

  24. I used to have to fly frequently to Hong Kong on business. It was always an uneventful, long flight. Aside from occasional turbulence and typical in-flight issues, it gave me a chance to read through contracts and proposals and prepare for the chain of meetings I would be soon be suffering through.
    In 1998 however, I experienced “The flight from hell.” Instead of getting a window or aisle seat, I was stuck smack dab in the middle of my worst nightmare.
    On my right was a tiny framed ancient woman with a smiling very wrinkled face. She smelled like the sluice at the bottom of an NY trash can. Everytime I turned my head in her direction I was slapped in the gob with waves of revulsion.
    Thankfully the pimply, post-adolescent mouth-breather on my right, bathed in cheap cologne, so I found myself occassionally deeply inhaling in his direction. It occurred to me that typically cologne bathers, were not frequent water bathers. And another wave of nausea crossed my stern.
    And then it all changed. The little ancient opened her knapsack and took out 3 tupperware containers. In my curiosity, I watched as she opened them, prying at the lids with her gnarly little fingers. Inside the sandwich-sized lime green container were feet. Chicken feet. Claws and all. She picked one up by the leg end, and one-by-one, stuck the dripping clawed toes in her mouth, slurping and sucking in absolute delight! Container number two, of the same color and size, contained a brown gelatinous mass, of what looked like slimy, rotten mushrooms, but smelled of burnt garlic. I was mesmerized. It was kind of like watching a horror film. It was gruesome and repugnant, but I just couldn’t turn away. The viscous sludge was slurped down, thankfully very quickly, and another empty container was carefully packed away.
    She then hauled out the coup de grace. A red container, sandwich-sized, but twice as deep. When the gnarled little hands pryed open this last goodie box, the garbage sluice smell, attacked my senses. Someone’s child in front of me, loudly exclaimed, “Who farted?” “Steven, be quiet!” Personally, I was right there with little Steven! The box was full of waving, jiggling, tentacled arms. When I saw her chopsticks poised for a ninja battle with the kraken-in-the-box, I simultaniously, turned toward, and gasped for cheap-cologne air, just in time to see the mouth-breather, knuckle-deep in his pimply schnoz!
    That was it! Up came my breakfast of mint tea and bran muffin. Thankfully the flight attendant took pity on me and led me to an empty seat 8 aisles away. Where I remained convulsive with dry heaves for the next 4 hours. I can’t stand bran muffins or mint tea to this day.
    Other than that, the fight was uneventful.
    From then on, when traveling, I book two seats and occupy the window.


  25. Flying along, no problem when the bottom dropped out. Attendant was in the aisle next to me BANG! she hit the ceiling. I figure we fell 10 feet in an nanosecond. Attendant said she hit her shoulder not her head so she was ok. Now THAT was unexpected turbulence.

    • I had a similar experience flying on a corporate puddle-jumper from Milwaukee Timmerman to Detroit for a meeting with the Corps of Engineers. My co-worker was kneeling in front of his seat, sorting through papers in his briefcase on the seat, when we hit such turbulence that he flew from kneeling to smashing his head on the ceiling. It didn’t make meeting with the Corps of Engineers any more pleasant.

      I also had a seatmate – a complete stranger – on a flight to Atlanta from Milwaukee who had never flown before. She closed the window shade (couldn’t have switched seats, had to CLOSE THE SHADE) and wept, clung to my arm and hand, and eventually fell asleep with her face pressed against my upper arm. I hope I still have those karma points in escrow.

  26. flying out of honolulu to guam, one hour out the pilot announced that number 3 engine was on fire and we were going to ditch. we made it back to hawaii, engine burning away like a burning shingle factory and landed safely still with full fuel. everybody including the crew slid down the ramps and ran like motherfuckers . it seemed like every crash truck in the world was there. free drinks on the make-up flight.

  27. sunshine_in_va says

    Almost landed on top of another “puddle-jumper” coming into Philly once. Got stuck in a holding pattern around Dulles airport in one of these same small planes on another occasion, had a few whoopsi-daisies and someone barfed. Once that marinated the cramped cabin for about 20 minutes, maybe half the people had filled their airsick bags (myself not included as I’d pulled my shirt up over my nose to try to block the smell).

    In 2001 I was going to go to Canada for vacation around the 20th of August. In July, though, I heard my high school class was going to hold a 20th reunion at that time so I postponed my Canada trip to go to the reunion. To what departure date did I move my Canada vacation? You got it: September 11. We almost made it to the runway that morning but the captain came on the radio and said that New York Center airspace was closed (which didn’t make sense because I knew there was no bad weather up there). Then they told us we had to go back to the gate to get more fuel to fly the alternate route (we were supposed to be going to Toronto). After the plane parked a bunch of people around me whipped out cell phones and got the first word about the World Trade Center (this was probably around 9:40 that morning). Needless to say I never got anywhere in the air that day and I only managed to get me and my bags out of Dulles before they shut the place down.

    We had some rough air when I was flying from Cincinnati to Dulles in 2012. I’ve never been more afraid on an airplane in my life but I’ll readily admit I’ve been in worse turbulence. No – this was mostly psychological. I felt terribly mortal and was consumed with the dread of dying and being no more. Perhaps it’s because my Mom had just been diagnosed with cancer; I don’t know.

    I wasn’t on an airplane for this last tale but – I saw a passenger jet crash. I was in high school in 1979 and part of something approximating a Debate Team. We were heading to a national competition in Milwaukee and our long bus ride took us around Chicago. We were probably less than 3 miles from O’Hare airport when a DC-10 took off and promptly had an engine fall off. It flipped over and augured in, killing 273 people, 2 of them on the ground. We didn’t actually see the jet – just this huge black and orange fireball blossoming up spectacularly out of nowhere off the left side of the bus as we headed north.

    • That dc 10 may still be the worst single us air disaster. All because shitty mechanics took maintenance shortcuts.

      • There was also the issue that the proper procedure for closing one of the cargo doors involved turning the handle 52 times, or whatever. It was easy to fuck up, and many did. With the cargo door not pressure-tight, the cabin floor would collapse into the cargo hold. People and objects get sucked out into the void, hydraulic lines break, and the ship goes down. No good.

  28. Ruthless Dee says

    After the most effed up series of diverted flights all over the country due to weather conditions we arrived in Seattle where our luggage was waiting (if it got there why hadn’t we?). We were right in front of the escalator to freedom and, wtf, got on board with a cart full of luggage. It toppled at the top of the ride and people started piling up. I was unable to do anything but laugh my ass off. Husband was about to die of embarrassment and trying to pretend he didn’t know me. Here comes a little old lady riding up who is steadily looking down and doesn’t see her fate. At the last minute she looked up and damned if she didn’t channel Percy Harvin and leap over the players and luggage. Mack and I both just about died laughing.

  29. Back in my younger years (mid 90’s) I brought a case of Genessee cans on board as my carry on. We were on our way to Montreal for a race. You can’t get a bottle of shampoo on a plane anymore. Imagine?

    • Why carry Genny when you can get Brador after you land?

      • That’s what the customs guy said. “We have very good beer here sir.” I told him, “But this is $9.99 for the case.” He laughed. The genny allowed me to spend money later in the weekend on Canadian beer.

        • Back then it wasn’t about the quality of the beer, it was about the quantity for the lowest possible cost.

  30. I once was in business class and Wayne Coyne was in coach. Later that night we had beers together and took a picture. I called him my airplane buddy.

  31. Worst flight? That will be the next flight. They get worse and worser. I could write a book about horrible flights. As bad as they are the cancellations make you want to get on those “trips to Hell.” These days if the driving time is no more than 8 hours I drive. At least I have a feeling of being in control and you can listen to great music thanks to SIRIUS radio.

    • It used to be eight hours, I’ve since expanded it to twelve after it took 14 hours to get back from Wilmington, NC.

      • My cutoff radius of fly-vs-drive has been expanding for years. Nowadays I’ll drive 600 miles rather than fly.

  32. Worst flight coming home from a trip to Seattle that had a layover in Dallas. On the flight from Dallas home, within about 10 minutes the flight attendants start moving very quickly all toward one window. They all look out, point and start talking nervously. They call the pilot on the cabin phone and are saying only God knows what. None of us passengers can hear what is going on but it is obvious they are nervous and keep going up and down the aisle to the cockpit. The pilot turns the plane, and gives the passengers the impression that we are heading back to Dallas, only to turn it back again and continue heading toward our destination. At this point, I’m screaming in my head “go back, go back” fearing the worst. Then, the smell of smoke fills the cabin. By this point, you could hear a pin drop. The only thing moving on any of the passengers is our eyes as we all look at one another with ‘wth is going on?’ panic on all of our faces. No announcement is ever made and we finally land. My husband asked a flight attendant just what was wrong and she said ‘not sure, but I wrote down the tail number on this jet and I will never get on it again!’ How’s that for confidence?!?