Craziest Things I’ve Seen on a Plane as a Flight Attendant

Craziest Things I’ve Seen on a Plane

“What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen?”

This question is posed to flight attendants almost daily. Even after retiring from the airline world I still have people ask me this question when they find out I was once a flight attendant.

Ready for story time? Because here are 4 stories about the craziest things I have seen on a plane while working as a flight attendant.

The Smoking Italian Grandmother

This story is pretty tame, but still crazy and hilarious.

I was working a return flight from Germany back to the US and we arrived before customs had opened for the day, so we couldn’t deplane right away. (Yes, this is a real thing at some airports.)

We had been sitting at the gate with the door open, (unpaid), for about 15 minutes when the fire alarm in the lavatory next to my jump seat went off.

I immediately knocked on the door shouting, “Are you okay in there?”

And when I got no answer I announced, “I’m coming in!” while unlocking the door.

I threw the door open to find a grandma siting on the toilet, legs spread wide, with her pants around her ankles, smoking a cigarette. As I was standing there dumbfounded and searching for words a man came up behind me and started sternly reprimanding the woman in Italian.

I saw everything, though, and that is a mental image I really could live without.

The real kicker is… Customs opened 5 minutes later. The woman just couldn’t wait for her fix or the chance to use the loo.

An Emotional Support Great Dane

Not all of my “crazy” stories are necessarily negative. This one turned out to be pretty cute, actually, but it’s still a little bit insane.

While I thank my lucky stars, I never had to deal with some of the crazier “emotional support animals” that used to be allowed in the cabin (did someone say snakes on a plane?), I did once have to figure out how to help a passenger squeeze her Great Dane into the space between her and the bulkhead wall.

It is a good thing they were seated in first class, otherwise it would have been impossible to fit the dog safely.

The 130-pound (59 kg) dog was a sweetheart and so brave, but also very cramped for the duration of the three-hour flight. She had to lay on her mom’s feet and was still tall enough to put her head directly in the lap of the very understanding man who got stuck next the woman and her giant dog.

The Bride & Groom that Overshadowed a Celebrity

Pretty shortly after becoming a flight attendant I worked a red-eye from LA to Chicago. We were told ahead of time that a very famous singer was going to onboard and sitting in first class. She was going to board last in order to avoid being noticed and bugged by passengers for autographs or pictures.

This was not only for her privacy, but also to help prevent a super slow boarding process.

Ironically enough, a bride and groom still dressed in tuxedo and white dress boarded in group one and proceeded to gain a lot of attention from passengers boarding behind them. People thought it was the craziest thing that they were flying in their wedding wear and wanted to take pictures with them. It took so long to complete boarding, and no one ever noticed the celebrity sitting behind the newlyweds.

A Fight Over Getting Off the Plane

It has been so long since this happened, I can’t remember where we landed, but that’s not important anyway. It was before the pandemic, though, when fights between passengers were still a rarity.

I was the lead flight attendant and I had just finished opening the door when all hell broke loose in first class. A young guy and an older man had started fighting about who should be allowed to get off the airplane first.

The old guy was pissed that the younger man, who had been sitting in the aisle seat wouldn’t let him go first. The young guy insisted the extra second it would save wouldn’t matter. (I was inclined to agree with him, but that’s beside the point).

The verbal argument escalated quickly to blows and the two men were holding up everyone else on the plane because now they were too busy going at each other to notice the door was open and they could simply leave.

I stepped to the aisle in to try to deescalate when I got knocked down by a stray elbow. Luckily the pilot grabbed me and pulled me out of harm’s way before yanking both men off the plane by their jacket collars.

To me this was crazier than the fights I witnessed during the pandemic because it was such a dumb reason to fight, and the door was open.

The Sympathy-Vomiters

Last but certainly not least is my most stomach-churning story.

You know how some people are sympathy-pukers? You know the ones, they vomit in solidarity with the person who is actually sick because the sight, sound, or smell triggers an intense reaction within them.

Yeah, well, on one flight I worked, there was a person who unfortunately fell quite ill during flight. They started to vomit uncontrollably all over the place. And if that wasn’t bad enough already, it set off a chain reaction of sympathy vomiting that ran all the way from the front of economy, were the sick guy was sitting to the back of the plane.

Even worse is the fact that I am also a sympathy-puker… I am triggered by the smell more than the sight or sound of vomit. So in a moment of quick thinking that I am proud of to this day, I shoved some foam ear plugs in my nostrils and went about helping my crew distribute extra-heavy-duty trash bags to the effected passengers.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I count myself lucky that these stories are among the craziest things I saw on a plane as a flight attendant. I know some of my fellow flight attendants have experienced even more insane things in their careers.

Now that I’m a passengers, I still notice the weird things that happen on planes, so maybe I’ll still experience something that tops these.

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