For most of the world, flying isn’t something we can do where it’s just us in the plane. We have to share that space with someone else. Sadly, not everyone was brought up the same way we were and may not exactly know airplane etiquette. What’s worse is that we can be the ones, disrespecting people, without even knowing it.
Today, we’ve collected quite the collection of airplane incidents that left at least one person feeling like their personal space was invaded, or worse. And if you’d like to read about them, they’re right here for your entertainment. These are the crazy and disrespectful things that have happened on an airplane.
40. The Christmas Eve Death
This wasn’t disrespectful, but it was shocking. The woman in front of me died in her sleep about halfway through the flight. They spent the rest of the flight giving her CPR while we high-tailed it to our destination.
She was old and her husband didn’t speak English very well (I think they were Korean), so he didn’t know what was going on; he just saw his wife turning more and more ashen as they pumped away on her chest for over an hour. And it was Christmas Eve.
39. She Did What?!
I’ve never had anything bad, so I’ll just say it’s the worst I’ve seen. A girl with an “emotional support animal” bit a woman in front of me and then another person who was waiting to use the bathroom when they moved her dog to the back of the plane.
As far as I could tell, the girl suffered from severe idiot syndrome from the way she was blaming the two people that she bit.
38. All For A Chair
I boarded the plane and took my assigned seat. The seat was slightly reclined, so I tried to bring it upright, but it just wouldn’t work. The stewardess didn’t seem to notice and I liked the slightly reclined position, so I didn’t say anything about the seat not working. The flight proceeded for a few hours, then the man behind me told me to put the seat upright as he needed to put something under the chair. I politely told him the seat wouldn’t do that because it wasn’t working. For some reason, he thought I wasn’t being honest, so he cursed me out at the top of his lungs.
Other passengers were joining in with him, too. I told them all again that the seat was malfunctioning. Finally, the stewardess came and was very hostile, immediately telling me, in a loud voice, to put the seat upright. I told everyone again that it wasn’t working. I got to my feet and said in my loudest voice, “Look you silly idiot. You sit in the chair and try to get it upright and I’ll sit behind you and curse at you!” He actually got into the seat and, naturally, couldn’t get it to work. He and the stewardess both apologized, but I was tremendously pissed off.
37. The Smelly Seat-mate
I was traveling to Dubai one day and dad a really smelly guy sitting next to me. On top of the body odor, he kept farting. I really couldn’t handle it, nor could I understand how someone could be so disgusting.
I had to keep going to the bathroom because Emirates is generous enough to keep some perfume in the bathroom. It was the worst three hours of my life.
36. A Date With The Toilet
I had the amazing idea to eat Mexican food right before going on an 8-hour overseas flight. Hindsight is twenty/twenty and I have never regretted anything more in my life.
I had a window seat and didn’t know the person that I had to get past every time I had to go to the toilet. As you can imagine, it got awkward really quickly.
35. A Crazy Delay
I was flying to Toronto from the UK. We boarded the plane and I heard some dispute going on. Eventually, several armed police boarded and told everyone to get off.
It turned out that a guy had gotten onboard without a ticket and was sitting in someone else’s seat. We were delayed for almost 10 hours.
34. A Weak Heart
This is not even my worst but by far the most memorable. We were about to take off for an 8-hour red eye and the old guy across the aisle from me literally had a heart attack. They got him off the plane, but then we had to wait for them to find the family’s luggage.
All in all, we sat at the gate for a solid three hours before takeoff. The bonus was that they couldn’t serve water or any other beverage because we hadn’t gotten into the air yet.
33. Turbulence Has No Respect for Anyone
was very young, probably not even in elementary school yet, but I remember this. We were flying home from visiting my grandparents. It was my parents, my brother, and I on this large plane. There was a bit of turbulence, but nothing major. All of a sudden, the plane dropped several thousand feet. People started to scream and my brother and I puked all over ourselves.
Overhead bins flew open, and suitcases fell out. Flight attendants and passengers flew all over the place. I think a drinks/food cart hit the ceiling. People were injured and bleeding, and I think at least one person broke an arm or something. I was terrified of flying for years after.
32. The Beast Awakens
About three hours into a flight from Atlanta to London and two rows in front of me, a cat woke up from its poorly medicated slumber.
The meeerrowwws and mrrooowws and mroooos and raaahhwwrs were insidious and incessant. Being mid-air, there was nothing we could do but endure it.
31. An Overpowering Smell
I was flying in a small plane (maybe 50 seats) and the old lady in the back started puking up however many Fuzzy Navels she’d had. If that wasn’t bad enough, she got up to clean herself and pooped her pants.
The crew did something with the air and the smell wasn’t overpowering for long, but absolutely the worst flight I’ve ever been on.
30. Suddenly Soaked
I lost consciousness and peed myself after a sudden drop in altitude. The sad part was that I knew it was happening and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.
I sat in a urine-soaked seat for an hour because I was too embarrassed to stand up. There was also the fact that I was sitting next to a pretty girl my age.
29. Food Poisoning
My worst, but more importantly, my friend’s worst flight was when we were flying EWR to DEN for a ski trip. We ate steamed pork dumplings at the airport after work before the 8 pm flight. My meal was fine, but my friend started getting ill before we even boarded.
The next four hours were his personal food poisoning hell; he filled our entire row of sick bags and bags donated from several neighbors. He spent at least one and a half hours in the toilet. I felt bad for him and everyone else on the plane.
28. A Stench Like No Other
The Russian guy sitting next to me on an international flight got tipsy on little bottles of bubbly he had brought onto the plane and passed out with his head facing my direction. He breathed pickled sour breath on me all the way across the Atlantic.
Seven hours into the flight, it was leeching out of his pores and he stank really badly. It was the most miserable flight of my life.
27. The Sweat Stains
I was in the middle seat between two VERY obese people who were disappointed I had booked the seat (one of the last) between them. They told me this as I wedged myself between their sweaty bodies for the 8-hour flight. They both spilled out of their seats. I could not use either armrest as both of them were bulging against my shoulders and using the armrests for their leg-sized arms.
Both proceeded to order red wine continuously, which caused them to sweat profusely. I hate to shame anyone for their body, but the comments they kept making about how good it was that I’m tiny (normal-sized) really grated. The aisle guy also needed the seatbelt extender. When I finally got off, their sweat stains were on the shoulders of my teeshirt and my arms were wet where they had been in forced contact with sweaty bodies for the flight.
26. Selling Seats
I was flying United while on honeymoon and there was a gentleman in business class who was too fat to fit in his seat. Instead, they offered him the only spare seat on the plane, next to me.
He was so large he took over half of my seat. To say I was uncomfortable would be an understatement. The flight attendants then sold his business class seat to someone else.
25. What’s The Joke?
I had just found out that my mom was in the hospital dying and had frantically booked a flight out to go be with her. I’d had some trouble with TSA as something in my purse had slipped through a hole in the lining and the x-ray had picked it up. So after a while of shredding my purse lining to get the offending item out, I passed through security, but I was a mess. I finally got on my plane exhausted (it was 5:00 am) and overwhelmed. About halfway through my flight, it finally caught up to me. My mom was dying. Silent tears started flowing and I couldn’t stop them. Suddenly, from across the aisle, I hear laughter and turn to see a boy who looked about 12 staring at me and laughing. “Are you seriously crying about being on a plane? What a wuss.” I wanted to punch him. Instead, I just lost it verbally. “Shut the hell up you little twit,” I said.
He started nudging the woman next to him (who was sleeping and was his mother) and was babbling on about the awful things I called him. I told her that her yes, I said that and yes, I stood by it. My mom is in a hospital bed dying right now and I’m on my way to her. Her son was a little idiot for taunting me. Her face turned stone angry and he turned white. She was pissed at him. If that kid could have jumped out of the plane right, then he would have. She apologized to me for his behavior and they had quite a heated conversation.
24. Keep Your Hair To Yourself
I was on a plane with my son. A meal was served — the full meal, with an entree, salad, bread and dessert. The food tray took up pretty much my entire fold-down tray. The woman sitting in front of me had very long hair. I guess she wanted to relax, so she flipped all her hair over her seat back and into my food tray! Her hair was in my food! Who does this, knowing that the food trays hadn’t been collected yet?! And she still had her own tray in front of her. I looked at my son, then lifted my plate so that her hair became good and coated in my food residue.
Then I said, “Oh, my gosh, ma’am, you just flipped your hair right onto my plate!” She jumped up and started blotting her hair with a napkin and ever once apologized to me; she didn’t even look at me. It was okay because my son and I were choking back our laughter. She had to sit for the next seven hours with gunky, smelly, airplane food-coated hair. Sorry, but she deserved it. She kept her hair to herself for the rest of the flight.
23. Layover Entertainment
So I fly a lot and can probably fill a book, but the one at the top of my list right now goes like this: I don’t get to travel internationally a ton, but last week I was traveling through Heathrow on a layover. I had to go through security again and they made me take all my electronics out including my big UE Boom Bluetooth speaker which I guess I turned on by accident.
I had been watching the show The Expanse on my phone and they synched as the speaker was in the machine. The dialogue that came out at max volume: “NO NO OH MY GOD HELP ME HE’S DYING.” It was very embarrassing as heads whipped around. I think I may have scared a few people in the process.
22. No Manners Here
It was a 5 am flight and the woman behind me was watching a show on her tablet, out loud with her husband while most people were trying to sleep.
I turned around and politely asked for her to turn it down or use headphones and she got angry and raged at me saying, “well then we both can’t hear it.” She should be using a headphone audio splitter.
21. A Horrible Pilot Prank
An idiot thought he was being funny when he loudly asked me, the pilot, “So, what have you been drinking this morning? Bubbly?” At that point, I grabbed my kit bag and my hat and departed the plane so I could go for voluntary alcohol and drug testing. The flight was canceled due to no pilot.
I made sure I announced over the PA system the passenger’s seat number and last name, so they knew who got their flight canceled. Of course, my results came back clean, but professionally, I cannot stay on an aircraft after being accused of drinking or anything more nefarious, even if it’s a joke.
20. Hobbit Feet
Some hillbilly sitting behind me in the aisle seat took off his shoes. He was wearing flip flops, and stuck his huge, nasty bare foot with gigantic hairy toes right on my armrest! My husband was sitting across the aisle from me and our eyes met as I looked back over my shoulder at the spectacle of those dirty hobbit feet just inches away. We both cringed but remained silent.
I’m pretty sure the passenger’s female companion, who was sitting across the aisle maybe back a row or two, noticed our alarmed expressions and motioned for him to move because immediately afterward he did put his foot down. I’m grateful they wanted to fix the faux pas once they realized the behavior was offensive and hopefully he learned from his mistake.
19. No Words
It was a red-eye flight out of L.A. (to Atlanta) and I was dismayed to see a family with a small, bright-eyed child sit behind me. The child immediately began to kick my seat and I endured it until the flight had been in the air for an hour and the effects of the constant kicking were really being felt. I checked with the flight attendant.
No, there were no extra seats. I asked the child’s parents if they would seat him where he wasn’t directly behind me and the father replied, “That would be pointless— he has to learn not to do that.” To this day I can’t think of a snappy comeback.
18. A Loud Awakening
I’m from the UK and was working at a summer camp in Pennsylvania. After traveling around the US for a few weeks, I had to take three planes to get home. I was tired and fell asleep on the last flight back to London. I woke up with the flight attendant’s hand on my shoulder, asking if I was okay, and the woman next to me was breathing very heavily.
It turns out I’d just started flat out screaming in my sleep and naturally this woman was freaked out. I didn’t go back to sleep on the flight after that! And yes, I was that person.
17. Just A Little Splatter
I got a bloody nose and food poisoning at the same time, sitting in the window seat and somehow managed to contain the projectile vomit to my seat tray.
However, a little splatter got on the passenger in front of me. I felt so horrible.
16. Toilet Trouble
The one toilet on the commuter plane I flew from Fresno, CA to Phoenix was not working. If I didn’t take that flight leaving at 8 am, I’d have to wait until 3 pm.
That was a loooooong flight after two cups of coffee for just about everyone on the plane, if the smell of farts in the air was any clue.
15. The Kicker Was…
The guy seated behind me was watching a movie on his iPad. Without earphones. I couldn’t believe it, so I turned around, just to see where the noise was coming from. We made eye contact, but I didn’t say anything. He then proceeded to kick the back of my seat for the entire flight.
All I have to say after that experience is that I am glad the flight from Nashville to Miami is short! I’m not sure what I would have done if it was a trans-Atlantic or Pacific flight.
14. Last Thing I Remember…
On an eight-hour flight, I began watching a movie they offered. It showed someone getting a needle and I passed out (I have an issue with blood). But for whatever reason, I first got deathly white and threw up all over my family.
The last thing I remember was my dad rolling his eyes and my mom was yelling for flight attendants and demanding they land the plane. The rest of the flight went smoothly, I think.
13. Then Pay For The Ticket
I sat right behind first class and the woman next to me complained and griped the entire flight (2 hours) that first class had food/cookies and that she wanted some; she then continued to complain while we disembarked.
She also was talking rather loudly at one point while we were taxiing on her phone, with who I could only assume was her daughter.
12. First Time In First Class
I recently flew first class for the first time ever. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. Well, I was happy getting free drinks and whatnot and the people behind me apparently had a daughter in the back of the plane. She was probably 35, woozy from medication, and was standing in the middle of the aisle with her butt in my face for the duration of the flight.
She was also unnecessarily loud and obnoxious and the flight attendants didn’t even ask her to leave. That was a fun five hours. Oh, then she almost took my bag at the carousel.
11. The Mid-Air Incident
I was coming back to the States from Korea and the second leg was from Japan to Texas. I had a bad stomach flu and puked into a large garbage bag. I am 6’8,” and 340 pounds. When I throw up, I wretch LOUDLY. Multiple times.
The poor Japanese people around me were trying to move as far as they could. My wife was sitting behind me and wouldn’t take the bag so I could fill up a new one.
10. Ignorant Assumptions
I took a Southwest Airlines flight home and I picked a window seat. There were two seats next to me, in which a young Asian girl sat with her friend who was Caucasian. During the flight, I heard the Asian girl telling her friend she was uncomfortable next to me because I was black (I’m clean, well dressed groomed and considered attractive). She then proceeded to turn herself completely around in her seat, sitting back and pushing herself as far away from me as she could so not to touch me at all. I have never seen this woman in my life, so I simply ignored her.
She then tried to give other passengers the impression that I was a threat to her safety. The airline stewardess just rolled her eyes and walked away. I was certainly NOT going to change my seat, especially since I was there first. What’s the reason for this attitude towards someone you’ve never met? I’m well educated married to a physician with two professional college-educated kids and I live in an upscale neighborhood.
9. Control Your Rugrat
I flew from NYC to Sydney, which was already 18 hours on a plane, in coach. The woman behind me had a two-year-old that she insisted on setting on top of my head every time they would get up or sit down.
I get it, lady. Flying with kids is the worst. Just please stop dropping your rugrat on my head every ten minutes.
8. The Two for One Deal
Business-class was overbooked, so I volunteered to move back to economy class in an aisle seat by the bathroom. I got a two for one deal for doing so.
While sitting in my new seat, right before taxiing, a kid and his mom came running toward the bathroom. Right before the kid gets to the bathroom, he projectile vomited in my lap. I cleaned my clothes the best I could, but I smelled like puke the entire way back home. From feast to famine.
7. Right In The Middle
On a three-hour flight, I sat between two obese women who were a mother and her grown daughter. They kept talking over me and I asked if one of them wanted to switch with me and they laughed, “Oh no! We are fine! Mom wants the window and I like the aisle.”
So I had to just sit there between them awkwardly with my arms crossed (they both claimed the armrests) while they talked over me.
6. The Unknown Reaction
The woman sleeping next to me started to convulse, and she began vomiting all over my right arm and lap. All I could do was reach up and hit the call attendant button.
After 30 seconds, she woke up with no recollection of what happened, and it had never happened before. They relocated the woman and I excused myself to clean up.
5. An Attack After A Rescue
On a Swiss flight from Zurich to NY, there was a call for a doctor. After several repeated calls, it had become clear there was no doctor on board. I told a flight attendant I was a trained paramedic, if that would help. She came back a few minutes later asking would I mind checking over a passenger who was having trouble breathing. I went there, realized he had some food stuck in his throat, and with a few well-practiced maneuvers, got it out.
I went back to my seat and my neighbor asked me what had happened. I told him and he asked where I had trained as a paramedic; I told him the Israel Defense Forces. Immediately his demeanor changed (he’d had a few too many), and he started shouting all kinds of anti-Semitic epithets. I tried to get him to cool off, but he just carried on, to the point where I had to restrain him to prevent him from coming after me. The cabin crew, alerted to the ruckus, came over. I told them what the problem was, and was immediately upgraded to an empty business seat.
4. The Coffee Disaster
When I was an infant, I was sitting on my father’s lap when the flight attendant leaned over him to give coffee to the person sitting next to him.
Her hand slipped and the boiling coffee spilled onto me (my father was changing my shirt) and burned my entire chest. I had a massive scar for a year or two after, and apparently, she broke down crying during the flight.
3. Rotisserie Chicken Anxiety
The person in front of me somehow managed to get a whole rotisserie chicken on the airplane at an airport that only served breakfast sandwiches. The whole plane smelled of it and the best part was that it was 8:00 AM.
Needless to say, I don’t fly with that airline anymore and I still have an anxiety attack every time I have to fly solo, which is about two times a month with my job.
2. All About A Bag
One time, many years ago, I arrived at my aisle seat and the foot area was occupied by the carry-on bag of the woman next to me in the window seat. I told her please to move it, she refused, claiming she was told to put it in the foot area in front of her seat and somehow she interpreted that to allow this scenario. So I grabbed the bag and put it in the hallway on the floor and took my seat, and she got a little testy.
When the stewardess asked about the bag, the woman complained that it was hers and that I unfairly placed it there and she was there first. The stewardess would have none of that and stuffed (it was late in the boarding process) into the overhead too much screaming from my neighbor about the fragile contents. It was a long flight …
1. Was She Right or Wrong?
The flight attendant had the gall to ask me to put my tray up! Of course, I said, “NO!” because the tray was there for a reason and that reason was that I didn’t have to use my pregnant stomach as a table.
She continued to ask me, getting more and more aggressive. Then my husband closed the tray for me and I was super mad. I respect that airplanes have rules, but sometimes you have to make exceptions. I was eating canned tuna on the plane and I needed a place to set it down. The person behind me kept complaining about the pungent stench of my canned tuna because it apparently “filled up the whole plane.”