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8 Terrifying Plane Experiences Told by Flight Attendants

Flight attendants must have the guts to handle turbulence and upset passengers. But even the boldest among them often experience at least one situation that shakes them to the core. Read on to discover the terrifying plane experiences that flight attendants have had to battle.

1. An Out-of-Place Passenger

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Flight attendants knew something was sketchy when two women in their 20s rolled their grandmother onto the plane in a wheelchair during standard boarding (wheelchair users should be first on the plane during pre-boarding). The grandmother was “sleeping,” so they couldn’t ask her questions.

It turns out the grandmother was in a permanent sleep. Halfway through the flight, word got around that the grandmother wasn’t alive. After an intense round of interrogations with passengers upon the plane’s landing, it turned out that the granddaughters had brought their grandmother on the plane after she passed away because they knew it was a headache to transport a body overseas the legal way.

2. The Arm Rest Struggle

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An American Airlines attendant had to tackle a dangerous situation that escalated quickly when two men began quarreling over an armrest. Punches were thrown, and a broken nose was the outcome. Thankfully, the pregnant woman near them didn’t receive a stray punch.

3. No Worries After Surgery

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A 74-year-old man with COPD chose to hop on a flight only one week after having a heart attack. But he didn’t hop off. The plane had to make a medical emergency landing, and flight attendants scrambled to get him help while juggling passengers on the plane that grew increasingly angry about the delay.

The man lived, and the remainder of the passengers left without hurting anyone. However, it was a hold-your-breath situation for the flight attendants.

4. Violent Cross Winds

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Turbulence is part of the job for flight attendants. But a flight attendant recounts that during one flight, the captain had the crew secure the cabin for early landing due to dangerous crosswinds. It was the strongest turbulence the flight attendant had ever felt as the wind whipped the plane from side to side as it approached the runway.

The scariest part? This story comes from the same flight attendant who experienced a separate turbulence experience that smashed their head into the ceiling before throwing them against the R2 door.

5. Malfunctioning Landing Gear

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During a flight from Hawaii to California, flight attendants and passengers were in for a rude awakening when they learned the landing gear wouldn’t deploy. Death seemed imminent.

The flight attendant screamed, “Brace!” on repeat as the plane approached the runway. At the last second, the landing gear deployed, and everyone survived — but not before exiting the plane via slides. 

6. Flammable Taxiways

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British Airways flight attendants knew nothing more than their passengers when their plane landed on the wrong taxiway. The taxiway was too narrow to accommodate their large plane, hitting the side of a building.

As if the crash wasn’t scary enough, the flight attendants had to keep passengers calm for one hour while crews cleaned up the fuel spill around the plane. Passengers were advised not to use their phones because of the flammability of their predicament.

7. Hot Feet

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A flight attendant on a standard route to Minneapolis recounts their experience smelling a burning odor. They then noticed heat coming through their shoes from the floor. The flight attendant was convinced the plane was on fire, as were passengers who detected the burning smell.

Luckily, the flight landed without incident, and the plane was swiftly sent to maintenance.

8. Passengers Are Scarier Than Planes

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Flight attendants faced dangerous conditions when they had to board and deplane 183 passengers four times on three different planes during a six-hour timespan. Many passengers became unruly, breaking plane seats, throwing their luggage, and swearing.

The flight attendants called the police, but the police didn’t arrive before the passengers started deplaning. So, the flight attendants were forced to be standing ducks as the passengers passed them, causing one flight attendant to recall that they couldn’t sleep for two weeks from stress over the situation.

If They’re Not Worried, I’m Not Worried

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There was a common theme among frequent fliers reacting to these flight attendant stories — studying the flight attendants’ faces to see if they looked scared. Flight attendants have been on so many flights that they have a better gauge of what situations warrant being scared than most passengers.

A Little Metal Tube

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Flight attendants commented on how medical emergencies are often the scariest situations they face. While there’s usually at least one doctor or nurse passenger on board to assist, a doctor noted that when you’re flying in a little metal tube thousands of feet in the sky, there’s only so much they can do.

Passenger Responsibility

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Flight attendants don’t expect customers to be happy about plane changes, welcome medical emergencies, or withhold screams when a plane drops dozens of feet during turbulence. But it’s a passenger’s duty not to act outrageously during them.

Furthermore, passengers mustn’t blame flight attendants for situations they can’t control. At best, it’s intimidating. At worst, it can put the flight attendants in harm’s way.

Share Your Story

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Have you witnessed terrified or mistreated flight attendants? What was the scariest flight scenario you’ve ever experienced? Leave a comment to share your story.

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Piece of Travel.

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