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?

During a flight a few years ago, I had an aisle seat and an Asian guy in his mid-20s had the window seat (middle seat was empty). At the gate before boarding, it was clear that he didn’t understand or speak English well. A half-hour into the flight, I noticed he was fast asleep, head leaning against the window.

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British Airlines came highly recommended by friends so I bought a ticket round trip from New York to Madrid. All owned by the same corporation, the first leg of the flight was on American, my return will be on Iberia.

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I was once on a direct flight from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa (15.5 hours) and had the good fortune of sitting next to a hugely obese man who was sweating profusely. His butt barely fit into his seat, and when he sat down he had to lift his belly up and drape it over the armrests on both sides. I had a good 8″ of his belly in my lap. I didn’t want to be rude so I got up and spoke to a flight attendant in the back to ask if I could change seats, but the plane was full.

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My line of work means I get involved with the US DOD fairly often. Unfortunately I also fit the “profile” of the type of chap the TSA likes to stop, being of a certain race with a certain surname. Being British-born and raised probably doesn’t help. Normally I just get the few odd second security screenings, nothing too serious. I remember being one of the first to use the new body scanner, and I had to go through it twice because the security guys didn’t know what position I had to stand in.

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My flight TG433 from Jakarta to Bangkok got cancelled. Normal enough. The whole Jakarta to Bangkok flight that normally flies everyday got cancelled for a week, without any email notifications. This was around the end of June 2014.

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This was two years ago on Virgin Atlantic from Chicago to Heathrow. I was up all night the day before because I had several work projects I had to finish, and because I wanted to make sure I’d be exhausted and tired enough to fall asleep on the flight.

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I was lucky to have the aisle seat for my trip from New York to England, but too bad it didn’t do me much justice when this complete douche bag, who appeared to be a bit older than me, sat next to me. Obviously at first he didn’t seem bad. He got to his middle seat like a normal human being (if I’m even able to qualify him as that as of now), and he was pretty attractive. Unfortunately, some attractive people are dumb as I’ve sadly come to learn.

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Only minutes before takeoff, the seat beside me was still vacant when at the very last moment a harried looking man, clutching a well-worn bag and sweating profusely, looked in my direction as the stewardess pointed him to the last remaining seat. He stuffed his bag in the overhead bin and slumped down beside me. “Nearly bloody missed it,” he snorted as he wiped sweat from his face and fidgeted with his seat belt. I could smell booze as he leaned towards me, pushing his knees into the seat in front causing the woman in the seat to turn round and glare at him. “Sorry Ma’am, just trying to fit in,” he said with a grin. I turned and looked out of the window trying to ignore him, thinking it was just my luck to have a drunk sit next to me, when I saw what looked like our suitcases on a stationary trolley as the plane taxied towards the runway.

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Plans for Family Fun Spoiled by No Flight Crew

July 22, 2014 Delay/Cancellation Stories

I’m on the train home at 2:30 am, writing this. I should have been asleep in bed at my parent’s house in Maine. I was booked to take a JetBlue 5:34 flight from JFK – Portland, Maine today. I had called JetBlue earlier about switching to an afternoon flight due to the threat of storms, […]

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Arrested for Striking an Airline Supervisor

July 18, 2014 Airport Stories

At approximately 3:40 p.m. on March 8, 2012, I arrived at the El Paso airport and dropped off my rental car. I had just returned from testifying at a New Mexico Child Support Hearing in Las Cruces, New Mexico, by subpoena because my Ex was in arrears on his child support. Upon doing so, I […]

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Airplane Departs with Door Ajar

July 14, 2014 Airplane Stories

One time on my many trips to Japan, I was flying out of San Francisco and was just getting comfortably settled into my seat. I usually sat in the upper deck as this is where all HP employees preferred to sit, and I traveled with them a lot. This trip I was on my own, […]

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FA Stalks Former Husband on Honeymoon

July 11, 2014 Attendant & Pilot Stories

My fiancé and I decided to get married someplace far away, with the destination known by few, because his ex-wife was on a continuous two-year rampage of harassment, phone calls, texting, bad-mouthing to his children, kicking in the back of his company vehicle… and the list goes on. We did not want our wedding to […]

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