Woman holding a paper plane.

The Dark Side of Air Travel: 12 Scary Plane Stories Told by Passengers

Nervous flyers, beware. These scary plane stories will make you rethink boarding your next flight.

1: Thunderstruck

Plane flying into lightning.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

One passenger recounts hearing a deafening pop sound mid-flight, followed by cabin lights going out. An announcement came over the speakers that the plane was turning back. Not knowing what went wrong, passengers saw the runway lit up with emergency vehicles upon landing. 

It turns out that the sound was lightning striking the nose of the plane, compromising navigation gear. 

2: Emergency Exit

Exit sign on a plane.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

On a 10-hour flight, an intoxicated man reportedly yelled at the flight crew, demanding they turn the plane around and refusing to stay in his seat. The man then announced that he’d let himself out instead, pulling at the emergency exit door handle with all his might. 

Luckily, emergency exit door handles don’t open when the cabin is pressurized. Still, chaos ensued as surrounding passengers became increasingly upset. Flight attendants eventually dragged him to a different seat, where they tied him down and monitored him. 

Unfortunately for the passengers, they discovered the plane had to make an emergency landing in Bermuda. At least they got the satisfaction of watching a police squad whisk the man away.

3: Pop Goes The Wheel?

Plane landing with smoke coming from wheels.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

On one flight, a tire burst on landing, resulting in a rough taxi. Luckily, the burst tire didn’t spark a fire, which sometimes happens in such situations. Had the tire burst before take off, the flight would have likely been aborted and passengers would have had to deplane.

4: Airheads 

Woman covering eyes on a plane.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

One traveler recounts a flight where the plane hit a pocket of air pressure and dropped fast without warning. Everyone was unscathed except for one passenger who wasn’t buckled up. 

This passenger reportedly flew out of his seat and landed on top of others, rendered unconscious by a blow to his head. 

5: Motion Sickness Gone Wrong

Women squeezing eyes closed on a plane.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

A husband remembers a flight with his pregnant wife where heavy turbulence worsened her nausea. Vomiting felt imminent, but paper bags were nowhere to be found. 

She ended up spewing in a magazine, and hubby used his hands to funnel her vomit as best he could. They finally landed after half an hour of the awful smell and the husband dealing with sticky hands.

6: Sounds And Smells

Woman praying on a plane.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

One traveler recalls a flight where they heard loud clanging and banging. Then the smell of electrical smoke filled the cabin. The plane was also shaking. It turns out a turbine suffered a compressor failure, and the plane had to make an emergency landing. 

7: When It Rains, It Pours

Flight attendant holding a floating device.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

One traveler recalls a Las Vegas to New York flight on which the plane lost hydraulics upon takeoff. Forty-five minutes of airtime later, the cockpit was still going through checks, and it was announced that in addition to the hydraulics problem, the plane was too overweight to land. The solution? They needed to circle Vegas for two to three hours. 

It was likely the first time most passengers paid full attention to the flight attendants as they explained the emergency landing protocols. 

8: Final Words

Scared woman on a plane.
Photo Credit: AndreyPopov via Depositphotos.

Several cases of rollercoaster turbulence were reported on one flight. The situation got so bad that it made for challenging bathroom breaks and caused one traveler to mouth what they thought was a last “I love you” to their mother. 

9: Flashing Lights

Lighted aisle.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

The thought of crashing into a large body of water makes crossing oceans scary for many passengers. One traveler recalls a flight where the cabin lights started flashing, followed by the airplane falling for several seconds just as they were above the Pacific Ocean.

10: Suspicious Alarms

Girl holding a paper plane.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

On an international flight, an alarm in the cockpit went off without explanation for about 20 minutes before landing. You can only imagine the thoughts racing through the scared passengers’ minds.

11: Sustained Injuries 

Scared man on plane gripping seat.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

One traveler remembers gripping the armrest so tightly that they tore their right bicep. The cause of this terror? Hot air rushing up a mountain, causing extreme turbulence while the pilot was making a steep descent to hit the runway before landing in Palm Springs. 

12: Just Breathe

Oxygen mask on a plane.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

A traveler talks about a terrifying few minutes when the cabin lost pressure and passengers had to mask up before an otherwise safe landing. What many of the passengers probably didn’t know is that planes only hold enough oxygen to last 10 to 14 minutes. That, in theory, gives the pilots enough time to descend below 10,000 feet, where plentiful oxygen awaits.

Some Good News

Happy woman.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

The risk of people falling victim to a plane crash is approximately one in 11 million. However, many more passengers than that walk away from a flight feeling like they’ve grown a few new grey hairs.

The Turbulence Low-Down

Plane flying through clouds.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Have you ever wondered if planes ever fall out of the sky? Passengers recount their worst turbulence stories, and we settle misunderstandings about whether turbulence is as scary as it seems.

12 Scary Turbulence Stories and the Truth About Rocking Planes

Gilligan’s Island Turned Into Painstaking Reality

Person holding a message in a bottle.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Gilligan’s Island may have been fiction, but these real-life stories of stranded passengers on islands make the TV show feel all too real. Some travelers became stranded on islands during a flight.

Gilligan’s Island Turned Into Painstaking Reality: 10 Stories of Stranded Passengers on Islands

The Thrift Store Making Big Money From Your Luggage

A bag with a "Lost" tag on it.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Have you ever wondered what happens when airlines can’t reunite lost suitcases with their owners? Unclaimed Baggage is the only lost luggage thrift store in the US. They’ve had some unique (and living) finds.

The Thrift Store Making Big Money From Your Lost Luggage

Worst Plane Crashes That Gutted the World

Hand holding up toy plane at sunset.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Flying is statistically the safest form of transportation, but accidents happen. These are some of the most notorious plane crashes in history.

10 Worst Plane Crashes in History That Gutted the World

11 Tips for Sleeping Like a Baby on Planes

Man sleeping on a plane.
Photo Credit: Marharyta_Hanhalo via Depositphotos.

Even the best sleepers can have trouble falling asleep on planes. Learn tricks from frequent travelers to help you catch some z’s during your next flight. 

11 Tips for Sleeping Like a Baby on Planes

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top