Flights are cramped enough but throw in some rude people and then you have an even longer journey than before. These passengers share their worst instances while flying.
“The second I greeted this couple at the doors I knew they were going to be trouble. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but hey, I’m only human and I had been doing this job too long to know a prick when I saw one. The guy was in his fifties and he was the kind of guy you could smell before you could see him coming. His wife was short and seemed kind of whacked out.
The second they got to the doors to the board, the woman started asking when the food was going to be served and that she wanted a bottle of water for them both.
I thought, ‘Calm down, if everyone made these demands the second they boarded, we’d never take off.’
No matter! I got her the water and said in the least patronizing way I could that food would be served once we had taken off.
I was working in the business class area of this flight and I figured there was no way that these two were going to be my problem for much longer. Remember what I said about not judging a book by its cover? Well, turns out they were in Business Class. With me. For thirteen hours.
As soon as he sat down he wasted no time in taking off his flip flops and before I knew it his wife was on her knees cutting his toenails. Click, click, off they scattered all over the floor.
Fast forward to meal service and I asked them what they wanted. He wanted beef. She wants pasta. I went back to the galley and came back with the pasta, but she had gone to the toilet. Fine, I left it on her tray and let the husband know it was there for her. I went back to the galley to get the beef and come back and he was eating his wife’s food. I didn’t know what to do and assumed they had already discussed it or something and thought nothing of it.
Thirty minutes later, the woman was bought up by another crew member. Apparently, she got lost and couldn’t find her way back. Next thing I knew she was complaining to my supervisor that her food was forgotten. I told her that her husband ate it and he denied it.
By this point, we had run out of pasta and she was not best pleased by this news.
Over the next few hours, we had complaints from passengers saying that the guy was burping, farting, and otherwise being a gross monster. Sadly there wasn’t much we could do as it was a full fight and we couldn’t exactly move anyone around.
At one point I walked down the aisle and he was standing on his seat looking down at the sleeping passenger next to him. Literally just frozen there. I asked him if he was okay and he said he needed the toilet but couldn’t get past the passenger next to him.
I thought, ‘Why on earth don’t you just ask him to move them?’
I asked him, ‘Shall I ask him if he minds moving his legs, sir?’
He snapped back, ‘Well, I should think so I’ve only been standing here for days!’
The passenger moved his legs and this guy still managed to trip over him and nearly crush him or smother him to death with his body odor. He was so long in the toilet I nearly had to knock on the door to see if he was okay.
Once he came out he said he needed painkillers for his back. I said we could give him Advil if the pain was really bad. At this point, he took an empty packet of heavy painkillers out of his pocket and said they were prescribed to him and he wanted those exact ones.
I explained to him we weren’t a pharmacy. He was having none of it and complained to the supervisor.
After all of this nonsense, I was beginning to wonder why I took up this job and it was at that moment I heard a scream from the cabin.
I thought, ‘Give me strength.’
He had completely undressed and was walking stark down the cabin. His wife had once again gotten lost.
In the end, they were removed off the plane by the police in Singapore and it turned out they were off their rear ends on medicine and drinks.”
“I will admit, our passengers are pretty low-maintenance most of the time aside from the typical grumpy, annoying run-of-the-mill nonsense. So when someone is abnormally terrible it’s hard to forget.
It was a morning flight from Las Vegas to Seattle, the whole crew was on their last leg of their four-day trip, exhausted, and trying to get home. This classic Vegas-five-foot-nothing-blonde-floozie came on in last night’s clothes/makeup/weave, no shoes, and started slur-demanding blankets.
We didn’t have blankets on our flights, we explained that, yet she insisted we were lying and just being lazy. The whole time she was holding up boarding and we told her, ‘Ma’am nobody has blankets here, please take your seat. Like now.’
She took her seat but within five minutes she was ringing her call light repeatedly, bothering the other Flight Attendants to demand they stop being lazy and please just fetch her the blankets that we, time and time again, insisted we don’t have onboard. Ironically she was polite enough while she was being a complete pain in the rear end, so other than her reluctance to just chill out, I really had no reason to kick her off the flight. Yet.
The gate agent gave us a final opportunity to kick her off but she seemed to have finally come to terms with the lack of blankets and chilled. So thank goodness, the Pilots had to hold off our departure to press a few more buttons or whatever, and while we were waiting at the gate that’s when she lost it. Had we taken off with her on board, who even knows how much patience I would have had.
She started demanding all of our names and told us she was going to get us all fired because we refused to get her blankets. I told her one final time, and I honestly can’t help but laugh when I remember it, ‘I promise that if we had blankets it would be so much easier to give them to you than to continue having this terrible conversation.’
I gave our gate agent the go-ahead to take her off the flight, but now she refused to leave.
So the passengers were all furious obviously and yelling, ‘Kick her off already!’
We were like, ‘Duh, we’re trying!’
At this point, the procedure was to call the police if passengers refused to leave which could result in arrest, this usually lights a fire under any resistant passenger’s rear end and gets them off my plane. Unfortunately, police were at least an hour out from being available to arrest this pain, so they sent the three biggest firefighters to the scene.
She once again refused, and all logic went out the window. She then claimed she had a medical condition concerning her circulation and couldn’t walk off the plane any longer, so she should just be allowed to fly and that wouldn’t somehow turn into an in-air medical disaster. Yeah no.
With the Captain, the Flight Attendants, the Firefighters, and the Gate Agents all standing around trying to reason with this chick that she’s holding up all these nice people she finally cooperated. But she said she had to be wheeled off the plane because she couldn’t walk. That means pulling out our little rinky-dink onboard wheelchair which was the only thing narrow enough to fit down the aisles.
So we did it. With our teeth gritted, we wheeled her rear end off the plane. I kid you not, the whole cabin cheered. Like standing ovation. They said we as a crew handled everything as well as we could have, so that was a relief.”
“Years ago, I sat next to a flight attendant on a Boston-LAX flight. There was an empty seat next to me in first-class and when there was no one left on the upgrade list, the airline put one of their own in the seat as she was heading to LA to staff another flight.
She was a veteran flight attendant and super nice. In response to my ‘what are some of the weirdest things you’ve seen?’ question, she proceeded to tell me a series of awesome stories for about two hours…
Back in the halcyon pre-9/11 days, she was a rookie flight attendant on a flight from the US to another country. Boarding the flight were several citizens of said country — clearly a family traveling together — and they were having real trouble putting a rather large duffle bag in the overhead bin. It was just too long and bulky/heavy to fit. They’d hoist it and then it would fall. Or, once hoisted, they couldn’t stuff it in the bin. And, when the flight attendant went to try to help, the family started shouting and waving their hands to move away, don’t touch the bag, etc., etc. The closer she got, the louder they screamed, men and women included.
So, the flight attendant stood watching, knowing at some point the family would have to give up and check the darn mega-duffel. When, all of a sudden, the duffel fell to the aisle (again) but this time a HUMAN ARM popped out of the zipper!
Yep, it was a DEAD BODY.
Made even more obvious when the head and neck popped out onto the lap of an already-seated passenger! She then proceeded to scream in panic at the top of her lungs.
Pandemonium ensued. Shrieking passengers, wailing and crying family members…in short, total chaos.
Apparently, in the family’s home country it was customary to bury loved ones within 24 hours of death, and they were trying to take grandpa home with them for burial. It was too expensive and time-consuming to ship the body, and hey, they weren’t going to relegate gramps to the cargo hold.
And no, the plane never took off. The ensuing brouhaha brought aboard customs officials, medical inspectors, airport police, and of course airline staff to handle the (understandably) freaked-out passengers.
I then asked the flight attendant how the heck a family of four could lug a super heavy dead-body-duffle-bag past the gate agents??
Her answer: ‘Back in those days, the gate agents rarely did anything. They let the flight attendants on board deal with all the problems. Would never happen in the TSA era we are in now.'”
“I Can Be Obnoxious Too!”
“I work on the small regional planes no one really likes to be on. They’re small we get it, but the seats really aren’t much smaller than mainline if at all, plus we don’t have middle seats, just window, and aisle. So I was working a full flight from Houston to somewhere in the Midwest, both places where it’s common to have large people.
Well, this fairly large guy got on while we were about halfway through with boarding and realized the guy he had to sit next to was also fairly large. They were about the same size really. Well before he took his seat, he stormed back to me and asked if he could take one of the empty seats in the back.
I knew it was going to be a full flight so I told him not at the moment but if there were any empty rows I would come get him.
He said something about the guy next to him being too big and spilling into his seat.
I checked it out and it wasn’t even that bad. The guy fit just fine. Boarding started to slow and with every passenger trickling in, he looked back to see if he could go. I had to tell the guy at least five times to wait. Well sure enough we were full. I was doing my count and told him he had to stay there.
He gave a big sigh and started grumbling about how ridiculous it was. He proceeds to cross his leg and lean as far into the aisle as possible, literally an inch from the seat across from him so anytime anyone had to pass him they had to say excuse me and he would make a big huff about leaving a couple of inches so they still had to squeeze by.
My job required me to make that walk many times a flight, a couple of times with a large heavy cart. I knew what he was doing so I made sure I pushed my side of the cart as close to him as possible. After having to say excuse me five times and him making a scene, embarrassing the guy next to him, I stopped saying it and just walked into him every time.
Things calmed down but he still wouldn’t sit right in his seat, he wanted to make a point. So I only did trash runs when it looked like he was about to fall asleep. I can be obnoxious too.”
“You’re Not Going On A Flight Until You Learn Some Manners!”
“My favorite incident was one that happened to me about a year ago. I’m working up at the boarding door. Toward the end of boarding, just as we’re about to close up, we had a high-ranking passenger on our loyalty program board. He was sitting in first class where there is absolutely NO overhead bin space for his bag. He walked through, opened one bin (that’s full), and dropped his bag in the aisle. He demanded I find a spot for it.
Alright. I play the friendly card and I go through opening bins until I finally find one with a space for his luggage. I just stand there in front of the bin. He hauls his bag back a good 12 rows and sets it down in front of me. I look at him. Look at his bag. Look at the bin. Then look back at him and wait. He then proceeds to speak to our lead flight attendant. Surprise! That’s me.
He said, ‘YOU need to put my bag up!’
To which I happily replied, ‘Not happening. You tow it, you stow it. Otherwise, I’m checking it. Our work will not cover us if we get injured lifting passenger’s baggage.’
He huffed a bit and slammed his suitcase in the overhead bin. He glared at me, and proceeded to march his way up to the front to sit down. The best part about this was that because he was the last person on board, the agent was right behind him while this whole incident happened.
She saw his attitude and said, ‘Get up. You’re not going on a flight until you learn some manners.’
She pulled him off. It was sweet, sweet justice.”
So Now He Backs Down?
“I once got stranded at Newark for 22 hours after our flight had an unfixable issue and was canceled late at night. We got put up in a hotel, but understandably, by the time the new flight rolled around (earliest they could fit in a new flight), everyone was quite tired and agitated.
As we are waiting to board the new plane, the flight attendant announced they would be boarding people with additional needs and families with young children first, followed by first class, then the premium economy, then coach. All pretty standard stuff. Obviously, it can take a bit longer for people in wheelchairs to board so makes sense for them to go on first – it’s common on most airlines.
This businessman raced to the front of the crowd and started yelling at the attendant, saying it was already DISGUSTING that he had lost a day due to their INCOMPETENCE and now he had to WAIT even longer despite being a first-class passenger and paying big bucks every year to fly with them!
The worst part was he was looking at others in the crowd to back him up as if it was perfectly reasonable to scream at this woman, who like us, had also been stranded and had most likely had very little sleep, and was doing her best to do her job in this difficult situation.
But she was awesome. Without missing a beat, she smiled and nodded and said ‘ok sir,’ then made a big point of leaning into her mic and telling the waiting line of people in wheelchairs and mothers with babies that this gentleman needed to board before them and could they please wait.
Literally, every single person at the gate was looking at this guy with disgust as he tried to backtrack and say he didn’t mind waiting for the first group, but the attendant said, ‘No, no, you made yourself quite clear – let’s get you boarded, the others will have to wait.’
He was humiliated as he sheepishly walked by all of the other passengers. The flight attendant handled it perfectly.”
He Refused To Put Up With Such Nonsense
“I was flying on a Southwest connecting flight to San Jose, CA, and I selected a window seat. A lady sat next to me in the aisle seat. As the plane started to fill up, people began to ask to sit next to her, and she told them she was saving the seat for her husband. Finally, the husband arrived and sat in the middle seat. Almost immediately, I began to smell this unpleasant odor. This guy was really funky. So much so that I could tell how other passengers were also offended by his body odor. So there we were, stuck in a smelly situation, not to our making. At this point, I wanted to say something, but I kept my thoughts to myself. It was not until he fell asleep that I decided this man would not be enjoying his flight while the rest of us were all miserable!
So I took out my phone and started playing a game at maximum volume. The noise woke him up, and finally, he asked me to turn the volume down. I told him that I would, but I thought it very selfish that he would impose his body odor on me and the passengers in his vicinity. He apologized and said he had been traveling from overseas. I told him that was unacceptable, and that he could have freshened up at a restroom in the airport or on the airplane. After that brief conversation, we traveled in silence, but I felt a little better after having the conversation.”
Don’t Name Drop Unless You Want This Happening
“I had the opportunity to help out a couple back in the day. A fellow passenger across the aisle pretty much thought he was flying private instead of being on a commercial carrier. He was constantly pressing the overhead button and making demands…no ‘pleases,’ not a ‘thank you,’ just a constant barrage of orders. The end came when he pressed the button and shouted, ‘Get me a drink now!’
The flight attendant was very accommodating in spite of this person acting like a total prick. She brought the drink, handed it to him and he bellowed, ‘There is too much ice in this drink, make me another!’ She was dumbfounded, and at this point, very flustered. She turned around and headed to the galley at the front of the plane. The lead flight attendant came back and proceeded to tell this ‘man’ that he needed to behave.
Well, that just made him amp it up. He belted out, ‘Do you know who I am? I am a very good longtime friend of Mr. X. You know him, he’s one of the executives at your terrible airline. He’s a personal friend whom I’ve known for years. Give me your name and the name of the idiot who can’t make a decent drink.’
I chimed in at that point with, ‘Sir, if Mr. X is a longtime personal friend, what is his nickname? His very good friends address him with his nickname, not his surname.’ He looked perplexed and then told me to ‘mind my business.’ The flight attendant told me very nicely to not involve myself as she would handle the situation. He said, ‘You’re right, you’d better handle this.’ I reached into my wallet and pulled out a picture taken on my wedding day that had me in my suit….the new wife in her wedding dress…and my new in-laws, one of whom is Mr. X. I handed it to the flight attendant and said that I would call the office when we landed and let him know that one of his very good friends is dropping his name and treating members of the flight crew in a very unprofessional manner. ‘Sir, may I have your name, so I can tell my father-in-law that you are going to make a formal complaint against members of the cabin crew?’ Crickets. Nay but a peep.
The lead FA handed me back my picture and told the guy if he touched the button again or even spoke to any of the flight crew, the police would be waiting for him when we landed.
I called the father-in-law after we landed to fill him in, just in case. I found out much later that he pulled the passenger manifest and wrote the guy a letter banning him from traveling on the airline.”
Sleazy Passengers On Every Flight
“I don’t know if they were shady, as much as they were sleazy.
Back in the day, Northeast Airlines used to have synthetic ‘furry throws’ for the passengers’ use in flight. There wasn’t one for everyone, but there were quite a few per flight. People loved them. So much, that we couldn’t keep them. Passengers were stealing them right and left. One day, I saw a lady deplaning with one over her arm, ‘hidden’ beneath her mink wrap. Keeping my eyes peeled for our throws, I stopped her saying, ‘Oh my! Look at that! Looks like you got one of our furry throws caught beneath your wrap. Here, I’ll just get that for you’, said in a syrupy sweet voice, while flashing a huge fake grin. I hate thieves.
Back then, drinks were $1 each. A few times, in an effort to get free drinks, some wise guy would produce a $100 bill, saying that’s all he had. I learned to quickly snatch it up saying, ‘No problem! I’ll just hold on to it until we’re at the gate where someone will be waiting with your change.’ One guy was particularly obnoxious, thinking he was so clever and had outsmarted us. Not only did I pull my usual trick, but when I told the flight crew to call ahead to bring change to the flight, I requested they bring it in coins. The crew was only too happy to comply with my request, and so was the guy on the other end. We’d all seen this many times. The sack of loose change was pretty heavy, and the man denied the Station Manager’s offer to count it out.
People are so stupid. They think they’re the only ones who ever tried to scam us. But, we were locked up with a couple of hundred people every working day, so there wasn’t much we hadn’t seen before.”