Flight attendants share their passenger horror stories

Jul 19, 2017

Being a flight attendant seems like a pretty good deal – you get to travel the world for free! But, flight attendants have to put up with some pretty terrible behaviour from unruly passengers that make being in customer service mode on a long-haul flight pretty unenjoyable. You’ll have a new appreciation for flighties after reading some of the horror stories they posted on the social website Reddit.

1. Bathroom nightmares

One former flight attendant says their worst experience was when someone smeared poo all over one of the bathrooms during a 14-hour flight. The crew put up an out-of-order sign and a few hours later the mess was cleaned up.

2. Passenger skirmishes

A flight attendant, who has been in the job for less than a year described their worst experience as two men screaming at each other, arguing about space in the overhead storage. The flight was delayed because of their behaviour.

Another tells of a passenger who mixed sleeping pills with alcohol causing them to “freak out” and attack another passenger.

Read more: The one thing flight attendants wish passengers would stop doing

3. Blatant rudeness

A former flight attendant explains one of their worst encounters with a rude passenger, who interrupted them in the middle of a safety demonstration.

“He bee-lines it to me right in the middle of me speaking the demo, which I promptly stop,” they said. “I ask him if he’s okay and am promptly met with a ‘get me a pillow’. I explain to him that I can get one for him the second we get in the air as we’re about to take off and the pillows are located near the OW [over-wing] exits, and I can’t interrupt our safety checks and procedures.” He just demanded in reply, “get me a pillow”.

Another problem flight attendants face is being treated like second-class citizens. “I’m a flight attendant for a budget airline … I think the thing that bothers me most, is the way most passengers treat us like the **** under their shoe because we offer cheap flights,” one flight attendant said.

4. Sexual harassment

One commenter who’s mother-in-law was a flight attendant for her entire career tells of an incident in the 80s where she experienced sexual harassment.

“She was working in the first-class section of the plane and there was a passenger groping the FAs [flight attendants], making lewd comments, and just being an all-around ****hole,” they said. “After a little while of this, Andre the Giant [notorious French pro-wrestler] comes over to the belligerent passenger, and says ‘I believe you’re bothering the ladies’. The guy melted into his chair and didn’t make a peep for the rest of the flight.”

A post shared by @wrestlerdeaths on

Image: Andre the Giant

You wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Andre.

5. Unfriendly colleagues

One flight attendant said one of the worst parts of flying was when you didn’t have supportive colleagues.

“The worst flights I’ve worked were the ones with ****ty co-workers,” they said. “We deal with 50 crabby people all the time but at least we have each other’s backs and are all going through the same thing. It’s the worst when one of the crew is unsupportive/not aware of others/[a] bad person, etc.”

6. Putting out fires

One person commented that their mother used to be a flight attendant in the Middle East in the 1970s.

“One of the services that Gulf Airlines provided was the Hajj flight, so that worshippers may travel to Mecca with greater ease,” they said. “People of all types would go on this flight, many of them desert nomads who had possibly never even seen an airplane before. People would bring everything with them, including live animals. My mother once had to put out a fire mid-flight with a fire extinguisher because a desert nomad had started a fire in order to cook the chicken whose head he had just cut off on the plane.”

Read more: The secret language of flight attendants revealed

7. Unflexible passengers

One former flight attendant said their absolute worst story was when a woman refused to change seats to help a family with a disabled daughter.

“A woman and her 10-year-old daughter were not seated together. This wouldn’t have been a huge problem except the daughter was severely disabled, and in a wheelchair,” they said. “The flight was full, so I did some seat juggling and called up the two passengers whose seats I was switching. Still had them together, still good seats, just two rows back from their original ones. It’s a mother with a child. The mother starts screaming and yelling how she won’t switch seats so the disabled child and mother can sit together. All in front of the first mum.”

What's the worst thing you've experienced on a flight?

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