Weirdest Complaints from Real Fliers

Chad Magiera, flickr

I got stuck in the airplane bathroom.

I was traveling from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia en route to my home in Chicago. I ended up on a small jet plane operated by US Air. I boarded the plane, found my seat, and decided to visit the lavatory before the flight took off.

I entered the lavatory, which was very small, much smaller than the usual airplane bathroom, and latched the door. The light came on. I used the lav and then attempted to open the door. The latch on the door slid to the left as expected and the light went off, but I could not open the door. After making several attempts, opening and closing the latch and pulling on the door, I started knocking on the door and calling for help. A flight attendant came and instructed me to pull on the door, which I did, without success. Someone then began to push the door, working with me to attempt to get it to open. Minutes went by, me pulling and this other person pushing.

At this point, I started to get somewhat anxious. The person on the other side of the door tried to assuage me, promising "don't worry, we won't take off right now. You are our highest priority."

At long last they told me to crouch on the closed top of the toilet to give them room to break down the door, which they finally did. I walked back to my seat, embarrassed and shaken up. I continued to feel uneasy and nauseated for the short flight to Philadelphia. –Terri Pease

I ended up covered in my seatmate's sweat.

Around the same time that Southwest Airlines was getting sued by 2 fat people who were made to buy 2 seats each, I found myself on a Continental flight, squeezed next to a 450-pound man in the middle seat and his wife, who was smashed into the window. I only got half of my seat, and had to lift the arm rest and hang out in the isle. I asked the flight attendant for another seat, and the flight was sold out.

To make matters worse, we had to sit on the runway for 3 hours in the hot Houston summer. My entire left side was soaking wet. I went back to the flight attendant and explained that THESE ARE NOT MY BODY FLUIDS!! Still, there was nothing they could do.

I explained to them that they had oversold that flight ... specifically that they had oversold MY SEAT. I told them that Southwest was getting sued by a fat person who had to buy two seats, and that I should sue Continental as a normal sized person who PAID FOR A WHOLE SEAT!

That was in the early 2000's, and as far as I know the industry still hasn't found a good way to handle that. –Rob Wheeler

I flew to Buffalo, New York but my luggage ended up in India.

A couple of years ago, I was flying to Houston from Buffalo, New York, but, somehow, my luggage went to a small town in India. It didn't return to me until right after I got back to Buffalo five days later. The saddest part was that the airline (Delta) wasn't even sure where it was at first-the only thing that the people at the airline knew was that it was in some city with a name that was difficult to pronounce. It turns out that, when I checked my bag, the woman behind the counter put someone else's luggage tag on my suitcase. That tag corresponded to a man I know as "Mr. Patel" because every time I called to inquire about my bag's whereabouts, they asked if I was Mr. Patel's wife or assistant. They couldn't seem to get their heads around the fact that someone else's luggage tag had been put on my bag. I couldn't really either, but it was a good lesson in the importance of checking to make sure they put the right tag on your bag before they throw it on the carousel. Sadly, the people who work the ticket counters are human and, it often seems, rather incompetent. –Laura Nathan

We had to land unexpectedly because one of the plane doors wasn't secured.

My wife, 8 year old daughter and I were living in Singapore in 2006. One Friday, we decided to take a flight to Bali, Indonesia for the weekend. We booked a budget airline and took off from Singapore. About 10 minutes after take-off the pilot came over the PA and announced that one of the cargo doors was not secure and we would have to land to fix the problem.

Here's the kicker-we couldn't re-land in Singapore right away because the plane was too heavy due to the fact that they had re-fueled before take-off. That meant that our only option was to circle for an hour and a half at 6,000 feet over the South China Sea until the plane was light enough to land.

Everybody on-board was a little tense because we didn't know how long we would be delayed once we landed. The second we landed, one man, who thought he was a big shot, started yelling at the crew to let us off the plane. He was cursing and complaining. Although he acted like he knew a great deal about what was going on, he was obviously unaware of the Singaporeans low tolerance with disruption. The police escorted him off the plane and we never saw him again. An hour later we left again-this time we made it to Bali. –Bully

I felt the engine stall over a mountain range.

I was flying from Nadi to SavuSavu in Fiji on the inter-island airline, Sun Air. As with other small, inter-island planes, every Sun Air passenger had to weigh his bags-and himself-when checking in (the planes are so small that they need to make sure they're not overloaded). The flight was delayed (as is true with many modes of transport in Fiji) because it was "Fiji time," where everything moves at a real s-l-o-w pace. We didn't mind much. The delay was only an hour, and the Nadi airport has a few shops and a very inexpensive food hall that serves tasty Fijian food.

Before taking my seat I noticed our Sun Air plane looked kind of old. I wished I was still back at one of the Mamanuca Islands, but I was there on business, so I got on like everyone else and pretended that everything was fine. The thing about flying around Fiji is that when the planes go over water it's usually smooth, but when they go over the mountains it gets bumpy due to the unequal air flow. Everything was smooth on takeoff, but 10 minutes into the flight we started going over the mountain range. Thunderhead clouds approached and all of the sudden an alarm went off. The plane dropped, it got real quiet and it appeared as though an engine has stalled.

Luckily, the pilot and co-pilot both grabbed something and everything quickly went back to normal. In the meantime, I had to pound my heart a couple of times to get it to start beating again. Besides going over the mountains, the rest of the flight was relatively smooth, and the scenery was gorgeous. You can bet I kissed the ground (actually, I almost made out with it) when we landed. –Johnny Jet

The seats in front of us weren't bolted to the floor.

In March 2006 my husband and I took our son to Costa Rica for spring break. We had a wonderful time-sitting in hot springs, white water rafting, horse-back riding, and zip-line touring. However, on our flight back to the US, I was appalled to see that the row of seats in front of ours was not bolted to the floor. We realized this when the seat (with all 3 occupants) rose off the floor during take-off. The occupants of the seats and the three of us held it down until we were in the air. Then the dilemma arose: who was going to tell the flight attendants? My family urged me not to with these reasons:

  • -The whole plane of people would be mad at me for making us turn back.
  • -We'd still have the problem of the unbolted seat during landing.
  • -Why worry about turbulence during the flight when it seemed unlikely?

  • After 30 minutes when it became clear that no one was going to say anything, I finally went up to an incredulous flight attendant, who came back with me to assess the situation. She said that she had never seen anything like it in 27 years of flying. While she was consulting with the other flight attendants on what to do, one of the passengers decided to fix the situation himself. He went to first class to get a knife (the ones in coach are plastic) and after 20 minutes of playing with the seats, was able to re-attach them to the floor.

    We arrived safely without further incident, but the situation certainly does not inspire confidence on how well planes are inspected before being allowed to fly. –Holly Berman

    The Captain realized that we didn't have enough fuel just as we were about to take off.

    I was on a flight from Chicago and, in general, Chicago has problems with high winds, so there was a single-file line of airplanes trying to take off from this one area. We were sitting on the runway for a good 2.5 hours. When they finally cleared us for take-off, the captain said that we couldn't take off because we didn't have enough fuel. Worse yet, we couldn't re-fuel because there were storms overhead and if we got struck by lightning while re-fueling, the airplane would become a large ball of fire.

    Long story short, we had to wait another 4-5 hours until the storm passed before we could fill up the airplane's tank and take-off. -Andrew Lee

    My flight was re-routed to a different city so that it could deliver an airplane part.

    I was once on a Delta airlines flight which was unexpectedly re-routed to a different city so that it could deliver an airplane part. What was supposed to be a short flight ended up being much longer. To make things worse, they also lost my luggage. –Barbara Farfan

    I was arrested (and tried!) for something I didn't even know was in my bag.

    In April of 2003, my husband and I traveled to Texas to visit his grandfather. As we made our way through the security line and watched our bags go through the x-ray machine, I noticed that there was a great deal of commotion among the TSA agents. Next thing I knew, a uniformed police officer pointed to my bag and asked if it was mine. I said "Yes" a little confused about what the commotion was all about, and just like that he handcuffed me and read me my rights.

    I honestly thought I was on a candid camera show. I looked around for my husband but he was on the other side of the security gate on his cell phone. I asked the officer what was going on and he picked up a set of "Brass Knuckles" (actually aluminum) and explained to me it was illegal to carry them in the state of Texas (go figure) and a felony to attempt to board an airplane with them.

    As soon as I saw them I remembered that they were a novelty item that had belonged to my boyfriend ages ago. A long time ago I stuffed them into my carry on bag, where they managed to become wedged in one of the corners and I had not seen them since.

    Long story short-I ended up spending hours in jail while I waited for my husband and lawyer to come and sort things out. Weeks later, my case went in front of a Grand Jury where the charges against me were dismissed (phew!)

    So, almost $2000 and a heart attack later, I have a good story. –Amy Dunn

    My seatmate was high.

    The second I glanced at my seatmate I heard my mother's voice inside my head, "Look at how glassy his eyes are. He must be high on something."

    His behavior throughout the flight only confirmed my suspicions. The first thing he did when he sat down was to announce "I'm hungry!" He then proceeded to giggle throughout the entire in-flight safety movie.

    Once we are in the air, my seatmate turned to me with a question, "Do they have bathrooms on this airplane?" adding, "I've only flown on international flights before." He then headed back to the lavatory to return minutes later with, no joke, white powder clearly visible in one nostril.

    For the rest of the flight he continued to harass me and the flight attendant, referring to me as a "frequent flier" and repeatedly requesting food and then later, alcohol, from the attendant. I was never so happy to land and get off the plane. –Devra Renner

    My friend and I ended up with tickets to the wrong city and ended up on the TSA Watch List-on the same day.

    What was supposed to be a trip to St. John's in Newfoundland ended up being a trip to St. John in New Brunswick.

    I didn't notice the difference between the two cities when I booked my tickets, and only realized my mishap once I arrived at the airport (and after my friend, Holly, who was meeting me at the destination, landed and called me to tell me that she was in the wrong city also).

    At the ticket counter, Air Canada was more than happy to sell me a day-of-travel (and therefore extremely expensive) ticket to St. John's, which I purchased. Holly also purchased a ticket from St. John to St. John's. A day and a half behind schedule, we finally made it to the correct city. Later we were dismayed to learn that, due to the fact that Holly and I had both purchased international tickets on the day of travel, the TSA had added us both to their "Watch List." –Heather Murphy
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