Flights From Hell flies you into the crazy skies with stories about the adventures and anxieties of airplane travel.

Commercial airline travel takes us far, far out of our comfort zone. We're herded into cylinders that zip hundreds of miles per hour at 30,000 feet, subjected to security screenings, confronted with delays and lost luggage, rushed to catch connecting flights, constrained to small seats, scrunched up with strangers, and surrounded by pathogens. Is it any wonder we end up becoming a bundle of raw nerves by journey's end?

I have been an international business traveler for over two decades now. My story starts on my way back from a long stretch in Kuwait.

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If anyone flies within mainland China, you’ll know very well they never tell you true information about what is going on with flight disruptions, delays, and the like. The unwritten rule seems to be the less that is said, the better. Nobody from the airlines wants to lose face, so they come up with this strategy to make it up as they go along. Unfortunately this causes passengers to become very irate and anxious, and in extreme cases leads to criminal actions and mass passenger riots which have plagued air travel in mainland China in recent years. With that backdrop in mind, let’s begin.

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Earlier this year I was flying from LAX to Amsterdam non stop. I had a window seat which is what I prefer. I knew the flight was not full so there would be open seats available. I have priority boarding so I was able to board first and get settled in. 

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My company flies me and the top 20 sales guys in the company out to LA for meetings. This is the first time they have done this in many years. I live 25 minutes from the airport. My route is impervious to rush hour, and I have never seen it take over 45 minutes to get to the airport. I also have traveled a ton and never miss flights.

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After working a string of 17-hour days on the West Coast, I was more than ready to leave SFO and head back east. Unfortunately for me, doing so meant traveling mid-day on a Friday in the summer – which, if you don’t know – means kids galore. Flying during the afternoon in the summer is like boarding a school bus that’ll be darting through the sky… and boy, was I not prepared for this.

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A year ago, I was traveling from my home in Memphis to my parent’s home just outside of Bangor, Maine. I’d made the journey many times before. Normally, I fly American through Philadelphia or Delta through Detroit. However, going from non-hub to non-hub is always very pricy. This time, I was traveling to Bangor in mid August, and had no option than to come home Labor Day weekend. I checked Delta, but the prices were outrageous because I was returning Labor Day weekend, so I booked the one way trip from Memphis to Bangor for $330, the average price for a one way ticket.

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Ever since I started flying, I always seemed to deal with delays and cancellations. There could be a drought in my home city of Baltimore for two weeks leading up to my departure, but the day of it, there would be a massive thunderstorm that delays all flights. It’s like I was cursed. But never have I experienced something like I did a few months back.

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My wife and I just returned from 2 weeks in Japan. We took a cruise around the country out of Yokohama, and then stayed another 5 days in Yokohama visiting additional places in Japan. The vacation was wonderful, but getting there and back had its hellish moments.

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Tooth Flosser Propels Food onto Passengers

July 31, 2016 Passenger Stories

My husband and I were on a flight from Atlanta to D.C. to visit his mother for Thanksgiving. Of course the flight was totally packed. My husband and I always get the aisle and the window seats. He sits at the aisle and I sit by the window. Don’t get me wrong; we like each […]

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Gummy Bear Song Torments Travelers

July 23, 2016 Baby & Kid Stories

I was flying from Amsterdam to Toronto after an 8 hour stopover in Amsterdam, so I was very tired. Everything was going OK until one mom decided to give her kid a tablet which had some songs on it. For the next four hours this kid was playing “I’m a Gummy Bear” on full blast while some […]

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Delay-ja Vu

July 19, 2016 Odds & Ends Stories

I don’t normally fly American Airlines – but I needed to get from Washington, DC, to Jackson, Wyoming, and they offered the best route for a reasonable price. I should have paid more for Delta. Worst part is, I kind of knew I should have paid more for Delta.

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Passengers Try to Finagle Seat for Friend

July 15, 2016 Seat Stories

I was flying Southwest, where there are no reserved seats. There was a group of three adult women who were all friends. Note that they were not disabled or with special needs, just friends flying to the same destination together. In addition, this was a full flight (143 seats, 143 passengers).

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