From the outside, working as a flight attendant might look like a pretty cushy gig. You get to fly to exotic locales, meet interesting people and eat all the peanuts you want. But, in reality, they have to deal with a whole lot of nonsense and interact with folks at their absolute worst.
In these AskReddit stories, flight attendants (and people who’ve witnessed flight attendant horror stories) shared the most ridiculous and wildest passengers they’ve ever come in contact with.
Next time you fly, give them a break, huh?
1. Weirdo radar
“I am a flight attendant for a major airline, have been with current airline for 7 years. I gotta say – over those years, my “weirdo” radar has gotten considerably more lenient.
you get a lot of run of the mill odd balls, or just people from different cultures who have different ways of doing things.
there is one person who sticks out in my mind as being absolutely a nutball. she was traveling with her ~8 year old daughter. to this woman everything was the end of the world. out of a certain drink? oh god how will I go on! the straw that broke the camels back was when our wifi was down momentarily and she got in my face screaming at me (we had two hours left until landing, and it was an overnight flight so she was definitely disturbing other passengers who were just trying to sleep) about how her life was ruined and it was all my fault the wifi was down.
her daughter started crying because the mom was being obviously psycho and the moms response was to slap her daughter, turn to me and threaten to have me fired. while she was screaming that I was going to “never have a job again” she started poking my shoulder. if there’s one thing you don’t do on an airplane, it’s touch the flight attendant especially in an aggressive manner. from then on we straight up ignored her, and told her only to ring her call button if there was a medical emergency.
we got to our destination, had the cops meet her just to escort her out of the airport so she didn’t stick around to yell at us any more. she decided not to go quietly. SHE SLAPPED THE COP ACROSS HIS FACE and from then on it was out of my hands. mostly I just felt bad for the daughter.”
2. Another slap in the face
“A lady with a very fake British accent basically behaved the same. And then she touched the female flight attendant who was probably half her weight. Next thing was the French flight attendant and her colleague tackling her and restraining her (with the rest of the crew helping). I got a bit involved (and almost spat on) as they called for medical personnel to make sure she wasn’t hurt or psychotic (she wasn’t).
Once landed she was released from her seat by a cop. Who she directly slapped across the face. Which is never a good idea. But a really bad idea in a predominantly muslim country. She got dragged out of the airplane.”
3. Drug mule
“My wife used to be a flight attendant.
They were coming back from Brazil and some dude had swallowed a bunch of drugs to smuggle. They ended up popping inside his stomach and when he realized it he was sticking his whole hand down his throat to try and claw it out. She said she still has nightmares to this day about his eyes and him screaming to save him. They had to restrain him and cover him with a blanket.”
4. He started crying
“Not a flight attendant, but last Christmas I was flying from Amsterdam to Seattle, and you know how you have to “have your window shades open, have your tray tables locked, your seat in an upright position and the arm rests down for take off and landing” ya, well this 50ish year old grumpy face of an old man literally did the opposite of all those things. (Was being a complete boob the whole 9 hour flight)
So when the attendant came by to tell him to get his stuff together, he pretended to be asleep and ignored her, so she shoved his seat forward and slammed his try table up. This guy starts screaming at her, flailing his arms, and STARTS CRYING, yes, crying because she was “rude.”
I’m literally just staring at this dude in pure disbelief.
Then when we finally land, they were like “please stay seated until the seatbelt sigh turns off.” This idiot stands up while we’re taxiing and starts to get in the overhead bin. So the same flight attendant comes by and in the sternest and most pissed off voice, says “sit. Down. Right. Now.” She slams the overhead bin closed and just returns to her seat.
That woman needs a raise.”
5. No more booze
“I was working on a return flight from Moscow to New York at the back of the plane. One of the guys smuggled on a 5th of jack Daniel’s and was drinking that along with the free drinks we passed out on international flights. None of us really cared that he had smuggled on the bottle and was drinking it with his friends but we thought it was stupid since we offered free booze.
Everything was fine until he asks the flight attendant for another drink and when she leaned over to put it on his tray, he licked the side of her neck. We confiscated his alcohol and shut down drink service for the rest of the flight after that.”
“Not a flight attendant, but I’ll share. You know how as soon as you get to the gate and the seatbelt sign turns off people leap out of their seats to stand around, this takes it to a new level.
A man in his 50s or 60s is at the front of the plane with his elderly mother. As soon as the seatbelt sign turns off, he jumps up, unbuckles his mother and lifts her up.
Man: I NEED A WHEELCHAIR NOW!
Attendant: Sir, we just got to the gate, there isn’t a wheelchair here yet. Please put your mother down until the wheelchair comes.
Man: I NEED A WHEELCHAIR NOW!
Attendant: Sir, they are bringing the chair to the gate now, but it isn’t here.
Attendant: Sir, please put your mother down.
Man: WHERE IS THE WHEELCHAIR!
This continues on for another minute until the man finally loses his strength and breath.”
7. Nice to meet you
“I was sitting next to a couple with a baby that was nursing who unlatched suddenly causing me to get squirted in the face with breast milk.
It was definitely an ice breaker.”
8. Up to something
“Flight attendant here. Quick one hour flight, we board, uneventful. We get in the air and this guy is paranoid. Edge of his seat, looking around. He’s either on something or is a schizophrenic who didn’t take his meds. We (the crew) are doing our service thing, but watching this guy.
He calls me over several times, points out a different passenger each time and mumbles about them being “up to something.” I assure the guy everything is fine, make small talk with him, and try to land without incident. He keeps up the paranoia, this time grabbing a young girl who is trying to walk past him to go to the lav. Now he has to be supervised non stop since grabbing a teenage girl is a no no.
The Captain has been filled in that we’re keeping an eye on this guy, and it’s getting close to landing time. Just prior to touching down, he jumps up and rushes the exit. Me and another passenger, an off duty pilot who is quite buff, rush over to what we assume is a guy trying to pop the exit doors. All the passengers who have been watching the shenanigans go into f**k this s**t mode, and physically restrain the guy, while the plane is landing and taxiing.
Meanwhile the guy is yelling about some other passenger having a gun. We get to the gate, cops come on, and the guy attacks a cop and tries to flee across the tarmac, meanwhile I’m watching this happen in the galley from the galley. I google the guy’s name and of course he has a history. The gate agent I find out later had a problem with him at the originating airport too but never bothered to inform us about him. Company sent me a $25 gift card for dealing with all of that.”
9. Keep your mouth shut
“A little off topic but I felt the most ridiculous I’ve ever felt. I was flying from ATL-CDG on Delta. I like sitting in the last row especially on the 777. When I got to my seat I noticed the armrest between the two seats was broken and flopped around. As I worked in law enforcement it was my habit to let someone know if something was broken so I showed it to the flight attendant behind me.
Everyone boarded but the plane stayed at the gate for a while past departure time. About then the Captain of the plane came back to look at the seat. He asked me if I was ok sitting there. I was so embarrassed that I had been holding up departure. Staff was very kind and courteous. In the future I’ll keep my mouth shut unless it’s something that could endanger someone’s life.”
10. How to get banned
“Had a flight get f-ed up so the airline upgraded my next flight to first class. It was a pretty long flight so sweet. I happen to sit next to a retired flight attendant and, being the pro she is, she orders us a bottle of Champaign. I didn’t know you could get the bottle on a flight but I’m not asking any questions.
Obviously I ask her for her horror stories. She’s like, “I can’t tell you names, but I’ve seen some very famous people get banned from airlines.” Not off the flight, from the whole airline.
How to get banned from an airline (drugs and booze help, but apparently some people don’t need those):
climb the food & beverage cart while it’s in use
accost flight staff repeatedly
let your kids climb on other passengers and blame the other passengers
DIY medical emergency via drug / alcohol abuse
incite a riot mid-flight
We had a blast that flight, she was lovely.”
11. Probably shouldn’t do that
“My sister in law is a flight attendant. And a very sexy one at that! She had a drunk guy offer to buy her pantyhose for $500. He wanted her to go in the bathroom and remove them and give them to him. She said she would have done it but didn’t want anyone she works with to notice her pantyhose were no longer on.”
“My fellow flight attendant had the pleasure of kicking Lil Pump off her flight last year (for those of you who are blessed enough to not know him, he is an obnoxious mumble rapper). Him and his whole entourage were screaming and throwing money during the flight and were super drunk and taking percocets. They diverted the flight and kicked them off. He so thoughtfully dedicated a verse about it in his song Gucci gang.”
13. A little unstable
“There was one guy who kept insistently pressing the help button before we even took off. “Just making sure it works,” he said. Then, during the presentation, he kept insisting I repeat myself. At once point, he shushed the women behind him that were talking to each other, supposedly because he couldn’t hear. Then, he asked “how do we know that the best people possible are in the emergency rows?” Yeah. Yeah, he did.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure that he suspected one of the passengers had murdered his wife. Never mind the fact that his wife was sitting right next to the man. Weirdo.”
14. A veteran
“Getting ready to board a flight from California to Vegas (Vegas flights were notorious for being “eventful”) and we didn’t have a jetway. So this was a flight that had passengers come outside the terminal and board up the stairs. Lady comes out the door, puts down her bag, and starts pretending to be an airplane zooming around with her arms outstretched. Mmmmkay. Keeping an eye on her at this point. She comes on board, and has a cat with her in its carrier.
While we’re taking a seat count (for weight and balance before takeoff), the other FA and I notice she took the cat out, which isn’t allowed. We tell her to put the cat back and keep it secure for the flight. She complies, we take off, and before we’re even at 10k ft I see a cat head poke out into the aisle from her seat area. You fucking kidding me? I have to get up, while still in a very steep angled takeoff, and tell her to put the fucking cat back in its crate. Poor kitty was clawing at the seat and terrified. Luckily she behaved after that.
Another time I had a pair of sisters who started drinking, no big deal. First sister said the other was a nervous flyer. They were behaving so I let them order more drinks. They each had four, but still seemed fine. Come to find out the nervous sister had also taken Xanax before the flight – great. She comes to the back lavatory and has already wet her pants. Oh god. She asks if I can make her another drink, “but this time it needs to be Christmas tree!” Uhhhh, I think you’ve had enough for now. Rest of the flight is fine. We land and start to deplane and as I’m saying goodbye to passengers I hear a WHOMP. The hell?!
It was her. She totally ate shit and face planted in the middle of the aisle right before the galley. She gets up and there’s blood on her mouth, so I tell the captain to call medics down. They get her into a straight-back wheelchair and as they’re strapping her in she starts asking, “Are we in Denver?!” over and over. The medic goes, “No, were in Omaha and you need to hold still!” (And no, Denver was not where we left from either.)
I also had a mother and son who boarded, and our plane had a seat that was MEL’d. (Minimum Equipment List is for things that are broken but not anything that’s bad enough to keep you from flying the plane – so this seat would be fixed when we got back to our base that had maintenance workers.) This seat literally had no seat cushion, and had bright green tape over the armrests with a sign saying it was out of order. While I was still boarding passengers, the mother had taken the tape off, sat her son in the seat, and put the tape back on the armrests on top of his arms.
I looked at him, looked at her, and said, “Ma’am, he can’t sit there, the seat is out of service.” Of course I helped them find seats together somewhere else, but man, that was weird.
I have a million of these stories, lol.”
“Not a flight attendant.
Was on a flight from the UK to Japan. As soon as we were cruising the guy diagonally in front of me reclines his seat. That doesn’t bother me: we all need to relax. But it’s a personal insult to the woman beside me (directly behind him). She immediately attacks his seat, quickly growing increasingly violent while the guy ignores her. Flight attendant gets involved. Somehow it’s this guy’s fault that the lady had cancer. She argued with the flight attendant for at least 30 mins before loudly giving up.
It was a long flight.”