Air Travel Nightmares: 11 Unfortunate Flight Experiences That You Can Probably Relate To

You’re probably used to the occasional turbulence and cramped seating when you fly, but some travelers have had experiences so bad that they might make you never want to leave the ground. Travelers all around the world share their flight horror stories in an online forum and it will probably make you glad that your worst travel experience was just a delayed flight.

1. Sold Ticket

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When flying, make sure your documents have your legal name spelled correctly. For this couple, they learned their lesson after a misspelled name led to a sold ticket.

“My husband’s ticket had his name slightly off. They said we would be fine every step of the way until we got to the gate. We were two hours early and had plenty of time to sort it out if needed. They said it was fine, then an hour later, called him up and said it wasn’t usable.

They said he couldn’t use the ticket, so they had to put it back on sale. We were flying from Europe to the U.S., so it was super expensive, but whatever. At least we’d be together. Nope. They had already sold the ticket to someone else. So he ended up spending $1200 on a ticket with another company who lost his bags,” a user recalls. 

2. Racial Profiling 

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 taking off on February 17, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Spirit Airlines is an American airline with its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Markus Mainka

This incident happened to my friend after we attended a concert in Boston. The TSA agent prohibited her from proceeding through security, asking her where she came from and how she got to America. The profiling caused her to miss her flight on Spirit, and then she waited 12 hours in the Boston airport for a flight on a different airline. She now despises Boston and Spirit. 

3. Closed Terminal 

frustrated traveler
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My parents booked a flight from Buffalo, New York, to Florida last year. They arrived at the airport two hours early instead of three to a closed terminal and a shutdown TSA. According to the staff who remained at the airport, they shut down security if flights aren’t full. Half of the passengers had to rebook their travel plans. 

4. No Air Conditioning (AC)

woman sweating
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My group and I piled into a compact plane with a broken AC on a class trip to Peru. After about an hour of flight attendants pacing back and forth and deciding how to react to the lack of airflow, the cabin crew let us off the plane. We waited another four hours for a new plane with a functioning AC. Yet, a man passed out in the middle of the aisle, probably due to the restriction of air a few hours prior. 

5. Storm Trips

Travel tourist standing with luggage watching sunset at airport window. Unrecognizable woman looking at lounge looking at airplanes while waiting at boarding gate before departure.
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The worst news to hear while traveling is that your flight is delayed due to a storm. The airline tends to wait until the storm passes but sometimes flies straight into the storm. One user comments their flight underwent a 45-minute storm delay only to fly directly into the turbulent winds and rain. 

6. Cabin Door Open 

airplane in the sky
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Imagine catapulting at 150 MPH, and the airplane door swings open. This nightmare-inducing flight thankfully happened before the cabin was pressurized, so the pilot landed the plane and fixed the issue, but still, watching a seemingly secured door burst open in the sky must be a reason to grab a barf bag. 

7. Cut the Engine

Atlanta, Georgia - 06/17/2018: Southwest Airlines B737 Departing
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Felipe I Santiago

It’s no secret that kids are loud. Put a couple of kids in an airplane, and you have a boisterous gaggle of children laughing at nothing and screaming at everything. 

“Well, apparently, because the airport is right over a neighborhood. After they lift off and are in the air, they cut the engine for a second. (I don’t know the details). Poor kids were screaming, thinking they were going to die. It was a long flight,” a frequent flyer mentions. 

8. Flimsy Barf Bag

Woman Feeling Hungry Looking for Something to Eat in Amusement Park. Person accusing stomachaches after eating street food at funfair festival
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nicoleta Ionescu

Saliva swells in your mouth, and you try to hold down your lunch, but to no avail. You grab the barf bag and hope for a sweet release. Hope only gets so far when the barf bag is made of cheap, thin material. A globetrotter claims their worst experience occurred when they vomited into a flimsy barf bag that broke and spewed its contents all over them. According to this traveler, the stewards didn’t give the passenger any napkins to clean up. 

9. Electrical Fire

Delta Air Lines Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet taking off from Los Angeles International Airport.
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Aboard a Delta Airlines flight, an explorer writes the plane had an “Electrical fire in a seat console. They poured water on it. Covered it in ice cubes and plastic bags. Winning.”

10. Marketing

upset woman on plane
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For some reason, stewards aboard red eyes love to scream about the newest promotional offer while the passengers attempt to sleep. At 3 a.m., the cabin crew grabs a microphone and shouts about the newest credit card deal and the points you can earn if you sign up today. 

11. Cancelled Flight but Worse

Woman traveler with yellow suitcase affected by flight delay and cancelled travel and vacation holiday. Travel ban and traveling problems
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“Happened to a friend of mine. Spirit airlines cancelled his flight with no refund or rebooking, just asked them to go home. The banger was when they still lost his checked bag despite the flight never having taken off,” shares one traveler.

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