These days flying can be a scary experience. It is said that traveling by plane is statistically safer than going by car. However, with the way the world is the littlest thing being off on our plane ride can send us into total panic. Unfortunately for the people in the following stories, they found themselves in situations that were a bit more than a little bit unsettling.
Points have been edited for clarity.
"We had a late evening flight and had by now, just arrived at our check-in line in the airport. A Bangladeshi passenger asks us, 'Hey guys. The Chinese are telling us that we cannot bring all our bags home. Will you help us out and check some of them in for us?'
I was shocked and thinking this is exactly like the background story of an episode of Banged up Abroad. I answered, 'Well... sorry, sir. We cannot help you out with that.'
For the next 20 minutes, these three oddly behaving guys, check in box after box wrapped in blue duck tape. They stared hard at everyone around them.
My friend and I weren't too comfortable with the situation as they were going with our flight, we had already been in contact with them. Even more importantly, we were the only Europeans around so it would surely be easy to find our names on the passenger list in case some bribing would take place.
We decided to leave the check-in queue and went to the toilet. While in the toilet, another Bangladeshi/Indian man we had not yet seen kept an eye on us.
Now, we made what might have been the wrong decision. Nevertheless, we thought it was the right thing to do.
We went to the airport's information center and clearly stated that something was wrong and that we would not be taking the flight under these conditions. We showed a few pictures we had snapped of the clearly nervous men. In the meantime, we observed another man spying on us in the background.
Within five minutes, I had the Chinese police on the phone assuring me that the packages had been checked properly and that absolutely nothing seemed worrying about them.
In this case, we suspected that the authorities might be in on it and decided not to trust the police. Maybe we were wrong. We at least did not want to take this risk a week before our African adventure was to begin.
We went to the airline's counter, where another Bangladeshi/Indian guy showed up next to me monitoring our conversation. I said to the guy, 'Sir, will you please step aside so we can discuss our travel plans with the airline staff.'
The guy glared but didn't respond.
Well... GREAT. We did not feel it was safe to take our flight. We were followed around the entire airport. We couldn't make new travel arrangements through the airline staff and the Chinese firewall was making the internet extremely hard to use on the public wifi. Moreover, our visa expired tomorrow - or actually that day since it was already past midnight.
We decided to leave the airport and head back to our hotel downtown for another night. On our way out, we were, of course, again followed. We jumped into a cab and asked him to speed."
"I've had many bizarre experiences as I've been nomadic for many years - however, this is an incident where I had two bizarre incidents on the same flight.
The flight was about to take off when one of the air hostesses politely requests a family (mom, dad, and kid) to deplane because the kid has chicken pox which was visibly quite obvious. She goes on to explain patiently about the risks of it spreading in a pressurized cabin.
Soon, a small mob forms and starts arguing with the air hostess saying, 'But she's just a kid' and, 'We don't have a problem with the kid, what is your problem.' Some other passengers are saying, 'I can tell you that someone on this flight possibly has AIDS, why are you not deplaning them?'
15 minutes of delay in take-off time and the family asks if they'd get a refund? The air hostess says yes. Another round of pointless arguments from the mob and then the family asks for a place to stay for the night. The air hostess makes a bunch of calls and says yes. The family finally then reveals that it's a group booking of 16 people and they demand all 16 to be deplaned, reimbursed and given accommodation for the night. The crew was stumped.
We are now 30-minutes delayed. They bring in a bunch of ground staff who were even more polite and slowly start convincing the family (just the three) to deplane and not make a scene. The girl starts crying and the mob again starts harassing other passengers to stop the crew from taking them.
Meanwhile (and I'm not making this up), some guy from the mob complains that if they're following rules, they shouldn't have let the inebriated guy onboard. He points to a plastered guy who had quietly passed out hoping to wake up in someplace else and was oblivious to the brouhaha surrounding him.
We are now 45-minutes delayed. Cameras pop out and start recording and flashing. The dude wakes up and is like, 'What?' Meanwhile, the family awaits with bated breath on the crew's verdict on the newest victim. One of the crew members goes close to him and engages him for a few seconds and turns back to declare 'he's inebriated.' The mob's like, 'Yeah Sherlock.' The inebriated dude's even angrier.
One hour goes by. The crew requests for the family and the dude's luggage and the family point out theirs. The dude replies, 'Oh I'm so out of it that I can't even identify my luggage.' The crew had to check the entire cabin length quizzing everyone, 'Is this yours?' The dude to his luck had placed his bags somewhere far from where he passed out.
Aeons pass. They find that elusive unclaimed bag and he's helped out his chair and escorted for a few steps and the entire flight starts clapping. To which he gets angry and goes back to his chair. Then the mob decides collectively not to clap and coax him into getting out.
The flight finally takes off. The guy next to me asks, 'I'm flying for the first time. Does this always happen?'"
"It was in the mid-eighties, I was 14 or 15, and my parents had brought me on a trip to Georgia (not USA-Georgia), back then a part of the Soviet Union. We flew with Aeroflot via Moscow, and I remember vividly the grandma like wallpaper they had inside the planes. Very special.
I asked the crew if I could see the cockpit, they said, 'Yes of course,' and I was happily escorted to the cockpit. I chatted with the very friendly pilot until he had to go to the bathroom. The co-pilot then asked if I wanted to try the captain's seat! Would I? Heck yes!
I was actually sitting in the pilot seat of a flying commercial airliner! Filled with people!
But that's not all. While I was sitting there, there were some hiccups, a series of lights flashed and the crew said something very fast in Russian. The copilot, standing next to me, grabbed my arms and placed them firmly on the stick (or whatever the steering thingy is called), and told me to 'Hold straight!' I held the stick white-knuckled, while they pushed buttons and turned knobs.
For a moment I was actually flying a commercial airliner! Filled with people! 15 years old! FLYING!
It felt like ages, but it was probably only four or five seconds before the copilot said that I could let go and that I should return to my seat. When I returned, my mom asked if I had felt the turbulence up there, and asked if I was okay, because I looked like I had seen a ghost.
Just entering the cockpit nowadays is breaking safety protocol. This was so far beyond any safety procedure, that it could probably have gotten the pilots fired - even in the eighties."
"After two or three hours of circling in a very bad thunderstorm unable to land at Logan (scheduled) or any area airport - the pilot occasionally would announce we were going to try Hartford or Providence or whatever - two things happened. Note that this was a regularly scheduled 747 Phoenix to Boston: 'We were going to try to land at Pease Air Force base in NH.' We didn't. After a bit more circling around the pilot announced in an irritated voice, and this is a nearly exact quote, 'Ladies and gentlemen, we have about 30 minutes of fuel left so one way or another we will be on the ground shortly.'
Some passengers again acted very relievedly. I think I heard something different in that statement than they did. Ignorance is bliss I suppose.
All of a sudden we nosed down sharply and landed quite abruptly. Again, people were relieved which for the first time they should have been. I tapped a flight attendant on the shoulder and asked, 'WHERE ARE WE?'
She laughed and grabbed a mike and announced, 'Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to Boston's Logan Airport.' It never even occurred to the crew to mention where we'd landed after all that!"
"So this crazy experience happened on my way back to Birmingham from Lahore. I had chosen Emirates airline and had to catch my connecting flight from Dubai. The transit time was roughly 3 hours, which seemed perfectly fine. Back then, I was doing my Masters from Univesity of Warwick and had to go back in order to work on my dissertation and submit it in a month's time. I was traveling pretty much for the past three weeks and was already lagging behind the schedule of my dissertation. The pressure was mounting and I even had to work from the airport. The first two hours went pretty smooth, as I had done a fair bit of work and also did some duty-free shopping.
Then I realized that it's better to sit next to my flight's gate so I can quickly board the airplane. Whilst I was walking towards the gate, I quickly glanced through the flight information screen and suddenly, every flight's status flickered to 'delayed' or 'canceled'.
At this time I knew something was terribly wrong. Anyway, I kept on walking towards my gate and saw a bunch of people gathered near a window and frantically looking outside. I made my way to the window and saw a thick cloud of black smoke coming from one of the planes on the runway. It was terrifying, to say the least. I quickly connected to the WiFi and checked the news to see if everyone was safe on board. Luckily, everyone managed to escape that blazing airplane.
After that, the real torture started for travelers. I was constantly checking the information desk with the new boarding time and they kept on adding a few hours every time I asked. It basically took over 12 hours to arrange the next flight to Birmingham. Needless to say, I had lost pretty much all the energy and I just crashed on one of the couches near the alleged gate of my flight. However, later on, they changed that gate, and the new gate was more than 20 minutes walk from the previous one, so I had to literally run in order to get there. Upon arrival, there was an enhanced security check, which included a thorough check of everyone's carry-on bags. It further added to the misery of passengers as it took more than 45 minutes to pass through that.
This has been the most tiring experience for me at an airport so far. Fortunately, I was able to finish my dissertation on time and also managed to score an A grade."
"I had a project in Athens and I decided to add a weekend on the island of Mykonos at the tail end of my trip. I was scheduled to fly on a 9:00 a.m. Olympic Airways flight from Mykonos (JMK) to Athens (ATH), have a quick meeting and catch a pm flight to London (LHR) on British Airways, overnight in London, have a breakfast meeting before catching a UA flight to Chicago. As you can imagine - missing one flight would create a mess.
That morning in Mykonos, I had to return a rented moped and was delayed because I had to wait for the rental shop to open at 8:30 a.m. It was then a mad dash to Mykonos Airport - upon arrival I saw no aircraft there. I rush to the Olympic Airways counter at 8:47 a.m. and I said, 'I am so sorry I'm late.'
The woman behind the counter said, 'No problem,' I was so relieved. 'Because we release the seats fifteen minutes before the flight to standby passengers.'
My heart sank. I looked at the clock and I said, 'It's only two minutes!' It didn't matter. I will never forget this - I asked her, 'How am I going to get to Athens?'
To which she said, 'There is a ferry that leaves for Athens in 45 minutes and you will arrive there in eight hours, but you have to get to the port immediately.' Oh, heck no.
I explained that this isn't a one-way journey to Athens, I showed her and her manager all the tickets that were connected to this itinerary AND the aircraft wasn't even there, it was delayed an hour!
I pleaded with the manager, an older gentleman, but to no avail. I went to the gate and started asking passengers if they would let me purchase their ticket and an extra $500 for the inconvenience. When the manager saw me do that, he told me to sit in his office and wait.
The flight arrived, a small prop plane, offloaded the passengers who just arrived from Athens and then they began boarding the flight. I started to panic.
With the propellers buzzing, I turn to the manager and said, 'What do I do?'
He said, 'Listen very carefully.'
By now all the passengers of this flight knew my issue. I entered the back of the airplane and I hear some people talking, one of them shouted out, 'How did you get a seat?'
To which I answered, 'You are not going to believe it.'
I walk right up to the cockpit and knock on the door. The door opened and I was allowed in, the cabin burst out into laughter.
The station manager told me, 'Listen very carefully, you are going to sit in the jump seat of the cockpit. Don't say a word, don't speak to the pilots, and when you land in Athens, duck so you're not seen by the ground crew. This will NEVER happen again, but there's something endearing about you.'
I thanked him, got on the plane, sat in the jump seat and just kept quiet for 45 minutes. It was awesome. When the plane landed in Athens, I ducked in the cockpit and walked off with the rest of the passengers."
"One evening almost 20 years ago I boarded a flight from Albuquerque to Salt Lake City. The boarding had been routine, as was the takeoff. Shortly after climbing to approximately two-thirds the altitude that we should have been traveling at, the pilot came on the intercom and announced that the storm ahead was much worse than anticipated when we were cleared to take off and we were likely to incur an unsafe amount of turbulence. The pilot announced that there would not be a beverage service during the flight and that we should make sure that we were tightly seat-belted for the duration of the flight. Though the unsafe part of his statement was unusual the rest of the announcement was fairly typical for a short flight into even moderate turbulence. As a result, other than making sure I was buckled, I didn't give the announcement much consideration. We quickly learned that the Pilot's use of unsafe was an accurate description. The airplane began to be thrown violently about the sky and at some points creaking and cracking so much that it seemed impossible that the body of the plane could endure the continued beating. Inside the plane, the results of hitting air pockets were so extreme that some passengers, having not heeded the warning to sufficiently tighten their seat belts, were launched from their seats and in one case bounced off of the ceiling and was bleeding badly from the head. Though most passengers weren't thrown from their seats, almost everyone on the plane was visibly shaken and many very scared. At one point, the pilot came on the intercom attempting to comfort the passengers but he was clearly shaken himself - as his voice quivered, having the opposite effect of comforting the passengers. Many passengers were in tears, many were praying, some clearly silently and others out loud. I, like I assume many of the other passengers, did not think the plane would make a safe landing. I was only a couple of weeks away from getting married and felt, at moments during the flight, that I probably wouldn't make it to see that occasion. I was among those passengers who were silently in prayer and seeking any comfort I could as we continued through this thirty or so minute experience that seemed to go on for hours.
As we exited the plane many people were continuing to pray and some even dropped to the ground and prayed as we departed the plane. Everybody looked like they had been through a very traumatic experience and most were continuing to try and gather themselves."
"My dad travels frequently for work. One day, he boarded a flight and was shown the window seat next to the wing of the plane. As always, he settled down with reading lights, glasses, and a thick book.
Usually, the airplane starts to take-off about 15 minutes of boarding completion. So my dad was surprised when half an hour passed and there was still no sign of takeoff. The weather was clear, and there was no congestion at the airport.
In sometime, my dad saw a small van drive up to the plane. A uniformed pilot came out, put up a ladder and climbed to the wing of the plane. He began tapping on the wing. He continued tapping for some time. Then suddenly, he stopped, looked left and right, casually extracted a long nail from the wing, put it in his coat pocket and went away.
My dad says it was the scariest flight ride of his life."
"I flew between Anchorage and Seattle a lot as a kid. On final approach to Anchorage, you sometimes fly over the city to land. We were coming in on our last turn for final approach when a gust of wind caught our 727 under the wing. We were about two-thirds of the way to upside-down - in other words, well past one wing down and one wing up. There was screaming and shrieking for the few seconds it took for us to recover to a more normal orientation, then tense silence punctuated with more shrieks and gasps every time there was an especially large bump on our way down.
We landed without incident. That night there was a 130 Mph windstorm in Anchorage, the strongest I've heard of before or since."
"Recently I was in California on business and to stand beside one of my closest friends as he got married to the love of his life. After the festivities were complete, I had a flight out of Orange County with my girlfriend back to Chicago. Now, I absolutely hate the airport security process just as much as anyone else but it's the necessary evil we are all subjected to travel, so I wanted to be over with it.
I'm standing in line and go through the TSA body scanner and the agent beckons me to step aside and come over for further examination. He said that something had come up on the scanner and he needed to check my legs. I immediately knew what he was talking about.
About a year ago I started wearing shirt stays/garters to keep my dress shirts tucked down during the day. They're absolutely amazing and very comfortable and every time I wear a shirt I have my garters on so I can look my best and not have to worry about my shirt billowing.
The officer runs his hand up my leg and feels the button on the bottom of the garter on my sock. He asks me about it and I tell him exactly what it is. I also tell him it attaches to two points on my shirt tails. I realize he doesn't understand a word I'm saying and he proceeds to ask me if I'm concealing a holster or any other weapon. I say no, it's just a piece of elastic that keeps my shirt tucked, to which he totally blows me off and thinks I'm either lying or completely crazy, so he calls another officer over. His manager, an older woman, comes over and asks me the same questions as well. Once again I tell her the same thing and I mention that I'd be happy to go to secondary to show them instead of holding up the line. Due to my willingness to comply they ease up on me and she says she'd like to take a look again before she can clear it and let me go.
I pull my pant leg up and show her the attachments as well as the straps for the garter and she goes, 'Alright we're good. Oh hey, by the way, are you a Chippendale or something like that? I was in Vegas one time and I saw one of them wear those things in a show.'
At this point, I burst out laughing, and my girlfriend who's behind me laughs as well cause she heard the officer too. I tell her, 'Thanks for the compliment officer but no, it's just how I keep my shirt tucked in so I don't have to keep readjusting it all the time.'
She responds, 'Huh... I didn't even know that was a thing. Guess you learn something new every day,' and walked away."