There are all kinds of issues that can happen while flying, but for the most part, flying is the safest way to travel right? Well, these stories might make you think twice about who you sit next to and how often you fly.
"I was taking a flight lesson, my first, flying over Chicago. The instructor handed me the yoke, and for the first time, I was flying. It was exhilarating! My awe turned to abject terror when the engine compartment door blew open and slammed against the fuselage of the plane. It was a single-engine plane. We were flying over skyscrapers; it was a terrifying moment. Seconds ticked by, my heart was in my throat, I was too shocked to say anything. The instructor eventually calmly took the second yoke and said, 'Ok, it's my plane now.'
I let go of the controls and watched in awe as the instructor got on the radio and contacted a small airport called 'Meig's' off the coast of Lake Michigan. The airport runways were built on the surface of the lake. There were two runways that I saw. He radioed the control tower and requested an emergency landing due to mechanical failure. The control tower was calm and cleared him for landing at runway 24, (as I recall). We were ten feet off the ground when he radioed back to the tower that he was landing on a different runway. They cleared him for the runway, we landed, and it was all I could do to support myself on my wobbly legs as we hoofed it back to the airport office.
He told me the mechanics would look at the plane, and we may be cleared to fly back to our original airport, in the same plane. I wasn't exactly relishing the thought of getting back in. About an hour later, he conferred with them and told me the plane was fine and we were headed back. What happened? The latch holding the engine compartment door had snapped. I asked them if they fixed it, and he replied they had. Concerned, I asked if they'd replaced it, and he said they hadn't, rather they'd taped the engine compartment shut. Apprehensively, I said 'So we're going to get into a plane that has been repaired with duct tape?' 'No, no, it's not duct tape, this is airplane tape!' I asked him what the difference was.
'Airplane tape is white.'"
"My tooth exploded.
Well, ok, not quite. I'd had a filling done by my then-dentist, who was terrible. It was the second filling I had in that tooth, because he never once drilled out enough, so the tooth would rot behind the filling until eventually, the enamel lost contact. Then he'd repeat the process without anesthetic, to 'tell better,' and when that failed, he'd extract it.
Anyway, we're flying out to Greece on a school trip, and it was fine until we started to descend on the approach to Athens. At that point, I start to get a toothache.
It gets progressively worse until I'm sitting there actually sobbing and digging my nails into my arm to try to distract myself from the agony in my mouth. It doesn't work.
I can't adequately explain what the problem is to anyone, but I'm starting to hyperventilate, so the dude next to me looks me in the eyes and slaps me hard.
I swear to God I felt the rush of air hitting the back of my teeth, and gob out a foul tasting lump of enamel. As far as I can work out, we climbed gently enough and descended so fast, I got a pressure differential inside my tooth. Most agonizing thing ever, so much worse than just getting drilled without painkillers. I hated that dentist."
"I was playing with one of the little cream containers that come with the coffee that you can order. You can squeeze them, and since they're this thin sort of plastic, they'll just bounce right back to their original shape. This kind of thing becomes fascinating after six hours on a flight with no TV/radio/magazines at all and nothing to do, with 12 more hours to go.
Anyway, there was this gentleman in a suit sitting in the aisle beside me. The suit looked expensive and the gentleman looked like he was allergic to smiling and humor and all happy things in the world. I was squeezing the cream container when I wondered what would happen if I squeezed it all the way.
So I squeeze it. The cream explodes. It squirts everywhere, all over my tray and the aisle, but the majority of it landed on the man in the suit. There were little white flecks all over his face and suit, and he had the angriest expression for a couple seconds. I was shocked too and apologized profusely, but he ignored me and turned away. I thought maybe he didn't hear me so I repeated the apology, but then he just puts a hand up in front of my face, not giving eye contact and not saying anything, and then starts mopping himself up.
The next 12 hours were awkward as all get out."
"My flight to Cancun was late. That is, my flight from Paris to Miami (connecting to Cancun) was late. That is, American Airlines flight 63 on December 22, 2001, was late. I was seated in 28E. My sister was in 28G. Parents in 28H and 28J. Richard Reid was in 29H, just behind my mother. We'd actually boarded the flight late as the ground staff was on strike. The plane left an hour late. It was overbooked: people were offered vouchers to take a later plane. It was a fun crowd, a holiday crowd, mostly French and Italians but many others too. We ascended, read the in-flight magazine, ate a quick lunch and relaxed for a bit. I kind of dozed off.
I wake up as my sister smells burning. Like a match burning, or some plastic. We look around and a flight attendant tells 29H to 'put it out.' 29H was a bit of a dodgy guy. Tall, with a hat and unshaven. The flight attendant panics into the aisle and cries out for people to restrain him. At this point, I imagined an explosion around the guy. Scary. We later find out she had been bitten and is bleeding. General panic ensues, but some rather large guys (not the crew, they were old and weak) start twisting his arms, wrestling him, and held him down. People throw water on him (everyone had smelt the burning). There were no restraints on board at all: we used belts, headphone wires, anything. The plane starts to descend. General panic. Everyone is ordered to sit down. People threaten to use fire extinguishers on 29H. 'Is there a doctor on board.' Yes, two as it happens and they inject him with a sedative. The captain slowly gets us all to calm down. The staff gets his shoes off (we wonder why?), his bag, his passport, maybe some prescription. Strong men are chosen to restrain him (they are relieved later on). The captain announces that we will be landing in Boston instead of Miami and that we'll be taken by fighter pilots.
You can imagine us being slightly nervous at this point. We were forced to sit down. We had to put hands up to go to the toilet. Anyone standing up was a suspect. The crew decided to show the film 'Legally Blonde' to calm us down. It kind of works, until we see F15 fighter jets on starboard. It seems that we landed quickly. The aircraft goes to a quiet bit of the runway and we're surrounded by flashing lights. Police, fire, ambulance, state police, etc. We get boarded by a SWAT team in full bulletproof gear and they take him away safely. We slowly deboard, go through customs, get stopped for two hours with no news, get moved to somewhere else (guarded by military police and only allowed to the toilet under watch). Two dozen FBI agents arrive and start interviewing everyone family by family. A nice FBI man named Jamey wishes my father happy birthday. We'd forgotten. Up to the interview, nobody had told us anything. We found out he had a fuse and some explosive in his shoes, possibly C4, and that he had tried to board the same flight the day before but was stopped by police. Only at this point do we realize how serious it is. A guy calls his girlfriend and we find out we're on CNN. It is currently 9 pm. We're still in Boston airport. We've been up 24 hours (time differences). We're exhausted and stressed. The FBI has gone home. We head off to Miami slowly. They check all our bags for explosives. The machine takes 15 minutes per bag. There are about 200 bags. We point out it'll take more than a day. Mob rule when they're nasty to us. I was going to dive on my holidays. I think I'll just lie on the beach."
"I was on a flight to Cozumel and we had a layover in Austin. On the way to Austin, I ordered an orange juice seeing as I was 18 and not yet over state lines. The juice was pulp. Not Pulpy, but straight pulp. I can barely drink this swill and end up falling asleep with my hand on the glass.
I wake up and I am covered in this pulp brine. It looked like I barfed up an orange all over myself. The guy next to me said I started toasting things in some slurred sleepy foreign tongue. Then attempted to drink the juice and poured it all over my face and shirt.
We get to Austin and I'm walking through the airport and everyone is staring at me. I can feel their eyes on me. I tried to wipe the pulp off but it would just grind deeper into the shirt.
On my flight from Austin to Cozumel, I end up sitting next to this relatively hot girl. I don't need to say a word to this lady and I can already tell she's thinking 'Oh god, what's up with Pulp-shirt here?'
I explain what happened and we have a good laugh about it. She offered me some gum before we took off. Maybe out of pity, maybe out of genuine kindness. Who knows?
Little did she know that this simple seemingly innocuous act would result in my imminent embarrassment.
Some time goes by and the flight attendant comes by and offers me a bag of peanuts. Sweet! Peanuts! But what am I to do with this gum that has so awesomely saved my eardrums? I can't throw it away and then ask for another piece when we descend, that would be rude.
I put the piece of gum on the tip of my little finger for safe-keeping and eat the bag of peanuts.
Instead of just putting the gum straight into my mouth I try to pull it off my finger with my left hand to place it in my mouth. It stuck to my pinky and stretched out. The girl didn't notice. Then I pulled my fingers apart and that stretched the gum out on my left hand. This action compounded itself with each attempt to remove a strand. After working on my conundrum for five minutes my hands looked like Spider-Man had viciously exploded all over them.
The girl noticed my dilemma and starts laughing. Awkward silence. I'm sitting there holding my hands together in fear of making it worse. The flight attendant comes by and asks if I need anything: soda, water, chips? The girl says, 'I don't think you should give him ANYTHING.' I just sigh, bow my head, and open my hands to reveal what it is that I've done. When I look up at the flight attendant, her face was priceless. I saw a lifetime of confusion run over her face in a matter of seconds.
She gave me a towel to throw over my hands and took me to the washroom. Every person was watching me walk to my washroom. Whispering speculations about what I could have possibly done. 15 minutes. It takes 15 minutes to mostly clean gum off of your hands without Peanut-Butter. Not another word was spoken the rest of the flight."
"When I was a kid my dad was a mechanic for TWA, so we got free tickets. As a result, we used to fly frequently for very little reason, like flying to Chicago for lunch because we felt like a Chicago style pizza. Basically, I was used to flying.
When I was 13, we hopped on a four-hour flight. It was just my dad and me, and our standby seats were on an exit row. The flight attendant freaked and refused to allow me to sit in the exit row because she didn't think I could handle it if there was an emergency (passengers in the exit row are supposed to assist other passengers in evacuations and at the time there wasn't the age restriction of being at least 15). She held up the flight and asked the other passengers if anybody was willing to switch. A man with his two sons volunteered, so I switched seats and sat next to his kids. One of them was 11 and one was probably about 8. They were the most hyperactive and obnoxious kids I'd ever met. It was their first time on a plane and they were bouncing up and down in their seats. The flight attendant had to repeatedly tell them to stop standing on the seats and put their seatbelts on, and we hadn't even taken off yet.
Finally, we take off, and as we ascend, they suddenly stop bouncing. Then they both let out this banshee wail. Their ears hurt and they refused to do anything that was offered to alleviate the problem. They wouldn't take gum, they wouldn't chew ice or anything, they refused to try equalizing. So for the whole ascent, these two kids are screaming next to me.
As we reach cruising altitude, their ears finally pop on their own and they calm down. Back to bouncing and being obnoxious for a few minutes. There was a little turbulence that day. They thought that was awesome at first. Then the 11-year-old started to turn a little green. He sat down and got quiet. I called a flight attendant to get his dad because I knew what was coming. I show him the vomit bag in the seat pocket and he gets it out and opens it. Suddenly he projectile vomits all over the back of the seat in front of him. No attempt to use the bag that he's holding. By this point, the younger one is looking a little green. The father shows up and almost on cue, the little one starts spewing all over everything, also ignoring the vomit bag that he is holding. I got up, walked back to the exit row, and took a seat. The flight attendant that wouldn't let me sit there in the first place walked by and just gave me this knowing look. The kids continued to vomit (or at least it sounded that way) for the majority of the four-hour flight."
"We're flying from San Francisco to Cincinnati. In the middle of the flight, the pilot announces to fasten belts because they are expecting a bumpy ride. Apparently, there is a tall weather disturbance that had been reported. Just prior, he casually announced that we were at 40,000 feet, expected time, etc.
After the announcement, we hear pop..pop....poppop. POP... POP..pop. Turns out it was giant hail hitting the plane. The pilot again announces more sternly for all crew to take seats and no one get up.
Then Wham! We fell out of the sky. There is no other way to describe it. It was like you were just sitting in a chair suspended from a rope at the top of a cherry picker and someone cut the rope.
DROP, drop drop, then Wham! It's like the plane landed in an enormous vat of cream filling, but more on one wing than the other so the plane 'landed' askance and all sorts of crap went flying out of the right bins to the left nailing people in the heads. Some people were not buckled and flew up and hit the ceiling then back into their seats. Screaming everywhere. Absolute chaos.
The pilot screams over the intercom 'Denver, we're in serious trouble up here, I need..' and a few other words we could not understand. Freaked everyone out. He forgot to turn off the cabin speakers from the earlier announcement.
Rough rough rough, then drop again. Same thing but a much harder landing. I mean we dropped for what seemed like minutes but was probably 15 seconds. Wham! a much harder landing. Stuff flying everywhere people crying, praying, screaming. Nuts!
We cruised through that and it became smooth again. The pilot later announced that he was sorry about the mistaken overhead announcement. He also said that the current altitude was something like 18,000 feet. Whatever the exact numbers were, we had friggin dropped about 10,000 feet."
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"A couple of hours before we were due to land, a call was made by one of the flight attendants over the speaker system, which sounded like, 'If anyone onboardisambfsnoleeektocrewimmlee.' Passengers looked around confused, asking each other if they'd heard what was just said. A few seconds later, a calmer, slower voice was heard saying, 'If anyone on board is a doctor, please make yourself known to cabin crew immediately.' It was only then that we started to notice something happening in the next cabin, and within a few minutes, a flight attendant was rushing down the aisle with an emergency first aid kit. Have you ever seen a flight attendant looking worried? It's scary.
After a while, things seemed to calm down, the attendants were carrying on as if everything was normal, and people relaxed. About an hour before we were due to land, a flight attendant walks past carrying a long plastic bag. I try not to think about what it could be. Fifteen or so minutes later, two attendants quickly and calmly drag something long and heavy in the same bag along the floor to the galley in the back. I catch sight of it and so does the lady next to me. We both look at each other with sad eyes. The passenger obviously didn't make it. My heart sinks in my chest and the plane is quiet for the rest of the journey."
"My mom and I were on a 12-hour flight and had each taken a sleeping pill. Enter a big Lithuanian guy who looks completely out of it. He was in the seat next to my mom, and during the entire flight, he would drift in and out of sleep, without staying in his seat. His arms would flail around, hitting my mom (and me) in the face. Then he would fall over into my mom's lap. All of this while we are trying to get some sleep on this overnight flight. We would take his arms and throw them back onto him. Once, when we complained to the air hostess, she came and strapped his arms into the seat-belt. This didn't hold him for long, however. We were just drifting off again when BHAM! he hits us again. By this time we were very groggy. There was only one seat open on the plane, but my mom didn't want to leave me to fend for myself with the guy. When we arrived at our destination I slept for an entire day and felt groggy the next. Thanks, Big Lithuanian guy."
"Flying from Buffalo to Atlanta. We are descending to land in Atlanta and it's storming.
Out of one window, everything is dark and stormy; the other is bright and sunny. The plane is right on the turbulent edge of the storm.
As we're coming in, the plane is jerking in all directions, and I can tell we're at a 25-degree angle to the actual runway (facing the wrong direction). We get to a 100-feet or so right over the runway and the pilot has to bail out. He slams on the throttle and pulls us out of the landing.
Cue that same scenario up THREE more times. Three landing attempts, three bailouts. We finally got it on the fourth try."
"On an internal flight in China, coming out of Tibet to Hong Kong. The plane was empty other than for my (now) wife, me, and 10 elderly Chinese women who had clearly never flown before and were terrified just by being there. Brilliantly, we were all sat in two rows towards the front.
We made a landing part way through the flight in the middle of mountains surrounding the Tibetan plateau -- no idea where or why, but all there was was a runway and a tin shack; nobody got on or off, it was odd.
But holy crap, the turbulence was like nothing I have ever felt. Seriously, it made the start of 'Lost' look like something you'd sleep through. Not crappy weather -- it was clear outside -- but the plane constantly hitting pockets where it drops like a stone. I've flown through similar before; what I'd never experienced was feeling the plane being blown sideways -- the back of the plane would repeatedly slide out as though it were a skidding car going around a corner. And every time we hit an air pocket or the plane skidded, all 10 Chinese women would scream bloody murder. Which at least drowned out the horribly varying engine noise. This went on for a good 20 minutes of the descent.
I have never been so terrified in my life. If I'd not been desperately trying to stay cool in front of my girlfriend I'd probably have been leading the screaming."
"When I was little, my ears would hurt during landing.
But that's not funny.
I had been in Bali for a week and ate some bad fish two days before leaving and I got food poisoning.
Anyway, on the day that we were leaving my symptoms had decreased significantly, so after getting to the airport and finding out we had to wait there for another five hours, my bowel started an 'occupy butthole' movement. Not cool, bro.
I get on the plane and sit next to a window to watch and listen to the turbines wind up (best sound ever). We take off 10 or so minutes later.
After about half an hour in the air, my stomach feels like it got stabbed.
About 10 minutes later, it got stabbed again and I needed to fart. I decided that I would just close my eyes, listen to some Metallica and ignore the chemical uprising in my stomach.
About 20 minutes later, I get stabbed again and my stomach made the sound of some kind of large aquatic mammal. I ignored it and drank some water. Short-term relief.
After about three hours, my stomach sounded like a cacophony of low groans, gurgles, hisses and the occasional high pitched squeak. I could have probably kept the cabin pressurized with what was inside my bowels, so I decided to hold it. Panic was setting in.
The next three hours consisted of me periodically changing seat positions and clenching my stomach. All was not well.
During the last half hour of the flight, I resorted to sitting upright, staring out the window and softly weeping, as a revolution was taking place in my insides.
Finally, the captain announced the descent. I was almost on Australian soil. I couldn't hold this beast much longer.
Touchdown. I had made it, almost. The air hostesses herded us off the plane like sheep, this meant that I was limited to the speed of young, tired, hungover couples. This was not fast enough. I needed a sweet, water-filled porcelain hole right now.
The crowd broke up as we got into the terminal. I made an awkward, Asimo style run towards the toilets, opened the door, walked toward the farthest cubicle, opened the door, closed it and fumbled with my pants like some teen promised a good time by Pamela Anderson."