Airports aren’t the most fun places to be in the world. People are mean, or sick, or both. Stuff costs too much, and there’s a lot of waiting around.
It’s enough to make you ride trains.
But what if you had to work at an airport?
Recently, a question was posted on Reddit: “What is the strangest, funniest, scariest thing that happened at your airport?”
Scroll through this list of the crazy things these airport employees have encountered when they were just trying to earn a paycheck.
1. Just your everyday alien attack
A little different, but I work Avionics on F-22s in the Air Force. Most of the work is done outside. One day on mid shift we get told to go inside, turn of the lights, and not look outside. Not knowing what the hell was going on, we obviously complied. Once everyone was inside, the big stadium lights that covered the entire airfield were turned off and all the entire airfield was dar. We heard low rumbling in the distance that was getting closer and rumors started flying. We were under attack, aliens, you name it. Eventually we could hear 3 large planes fly very low overhead and be gone. After 15 more minutes we were given the go ahead to go back outside and back to work. To this day I still don’t know what the hell happened.
2. Taking requests and tipping is appreciated
I work at my local airport (I live on a tiny island and this airport is smaller than our library), and just last summer we had a hurricane looming down on us. Everyone is getting packed up to evacuate, we’re renting cars like crazy to people fleeing and we’re trying to get them out of the storm area. I was out checking on the cars we had and when I walked back up there was a man sitting on a bench out front, with an apocalyptic-looking storm bearing down on us, wind whipping everywhere, just soulfully playing the trombone. No idea where he came from or what he was doing but it was surreal. Like something out of a David Lynch film.
EDIT – To clarify, this island is tiny, but it is also very close off the coast and has a bridge to the mainland.
3. Someone needs a vacation
Worked at Perth airport until recently. Most flights in Perth go to Bali and you see some right characters (read: Bali bogans). A Jetstar flight was delayed by 7 hours and a woman and her husband used the time to get absolutely shitfaced. The woman fancied a cigarette and rather than go outside and go through security again, lit up in the middle of the duty free. My colleagues quickly tried to stop her, but she told them to fuck off. Cue airport police, $10,000 fine and no flight to Bali…. should have listened to the staff…
4. Wow, totally not your fault
Worked for a summer as a skycap at an airport in Maine. A couple of the 9/11 hijackers came through that airport, and then to Logan (in Boston) which is where the hijacking took place; they chose this airport in Portland precisely because it was kinda podunk and no one would pay attention as much. A guy I worked with actually showed them to where the rental car place was because the way the airport was set up back then it was in this weird corner and people would ask for our help to find it constantly. Poor guy felt like he was in some way responsible.
5. Very curious about the elephant
I used to do cargo for Delta and British Airways.
We ship A LOT of dead people.
A lot of animals, too. They actually sent me to la to go to a class entirely on animal handling. THere’s regulations and procedures for EVERYTHING all the way up to Elephants and whales and shit. Weirdest thing we ever got to actually ship was an alligator of some sort.
6. This story is bananas
As a FedEx employee, you could fly for free on the planes, and back when they used to ship live animals, my old boss flew next to a sedated gorilla. He said the entire flight he spent hoping it wouldn’t wake up and go nuts while they were in the air. He said it did smell pretty bad the entire trip though.
Also I may or may not be privy to a story about the really early days of FedEx, where an employee took a crate full of monkeys home to show his kids (yeah it went about as well as you’d expect).
7. Madam, you are not okay
Pittsburgh international, 3am or so several years ago. Watched an older woman tumble down the “up” escalator. Every time she flipped over she yelled “I’m ok” like Filburt from Rocko’s Modern Life.
Flop I’m ok Flop I’m ok Flop I’m ok
Rolled in place for maybe a minute before someone shut the thing off.
8. Madam, you are not okay, part 2
I worked at a corporate aircraft maintenance place, and we had a situation where this crazy woman somehow got out on the secured ramp area. By the time one of our line service guys saw her she had the main entry door opened up on a Global XRS aircraft. When he pulled up she looked at him and asked if he could help her get her bags onboard, when he told her he couldn’t, she told him she was going to fly the plane to China and didn’t want to be late. After that occurance the security at our airport became insane.
9. We were in survival mode that day
Not me, but my father was regional manager of one of the rental car companies at the airport and on 9/11 when all flights were grounded everyone needed rental cars and it was havoc. My father said the phone rang and he almost didn’t answer because he was so busy, turns out it was the company CEO and ordered him to hand out keys free. No cost, no documentation as the situation was severe and all other major rental companies followed suit.
Not necessarily strange, funny or scary but it is one of the few stories he told me about the job as a kid that I always remember.
10. Get me off this plane
Not an employee. Dad ran a business in Missouri and hired a mechanic who ended up being horrible. Left his tools everywhere, trucks he worked on would break down, everything was covered in oily fingerprints, etc. Employee was fired and forgotten. Fast forward a few years, my parents are on their honeymoon in Cancun getting on the plane to come back home, when the pilot announces over the PA system that the plane can’t take off for a while because of maintenance. My dad looks out the window at the wing and sees oily fingerprints and tools all over the wing and the ground. His old mechanic walks out from under the wing and begins working under a panel on the wing. Dad gets super worried and wants off the plane immediately.
Edit for all the questions: No, he didn’t get off – since they’d paid for the flight, I don’t think Mom was going to let them leave in a million years. They made it safely home, or I wouldn’t be here to tell you all the story!
At least you know passengers aren’t the only ones at the airport wishing they weren’t. From weird flybys to shady mechanics, there are plenty of strange stories to round.
Trains are looking better all the time.