The Cannibal

April 10, 2009

in Weird People Stories

I was on a flight from Vienna, Austria to Belgium a couple of years ago and though I’m a frequent flier, this little trip will stay with me always.

I sat in an aisle seat; in the aisle seat across and a little bit forward from me (one of those planes where the aisles don’t line up – thankfully) sat the man who would be responsible for a few nightmares in the following years.

I noticed that the man was a bit scruffy looking even though he was wearing a nice, button up business shirt, nice slacks and expensive shoes; a typical European business man on a flight home? I noticed that his hair was unkempt looking – I couldn’t really see his face but something about him bothered me. I tried reading but he was squirming about in his seat which I found really distracting. Then, I saw blood spots on the back of his shirt which I hadn’t noticed earlier. I went back to my reading but there was more squirming from him and it seemed to be getting more intense. Was it my imagination or were there more bloody spots on the back of his shirt…yes, in fact some were seeping through on the arms too. I couldn’t concentrate on reading, but I didn’t want to look at him either, it kind of made me queasy.

I was trying to find something else to focus on when he bent over and starting scratching his leg, really scratching it quite viciously. He then brought his finger up to his face, analyzed the contents of his fingernails and then started sucking the stuff off. This guy was at least in his late 40s, early 50s – old enough to know that we don’t eat our boogers or skin in public. Yuk. I was hoping it was some sort of an anomaly when seconds later he dug into his leg again and this time came back with a big quarter sized glop of infected looking red and green stuff which he immediately began slurping off his fingers. This continued on for the next 10 or 15 minutes with him getting more and more excited, exploring the other leg, a few areas under his shirt in the front, his neck and then finally his back. I tried so hard to keep my eyes closed or diverted but somehow they kept wandering back to him. I wanted to tell on him but I knew it wouldn’t get him moved (the flight looked full) and short of one of us moving, what was to be gained by telling on him? He obviously couldn’t control himself.

I was really feeling sick and apparently so was his row-mate. Sitting not next to him, but in the window seat, was an attractive, well dressed, middle aged woman whom I had also noticed a few minutes earlier. I couldn’t completely see her, but could tell that she had noticed Hannibal the Cannibal’s brother sitting next to her. She, like me, was getting more agitated and concerned as her neighbor devoured himself. Suddenly, she began screaming at him. “Stop it! Stop it! Are you sick? That is disgusting!” I couldn’t understand everything she said; it was close to French but not close enough for me to catch everything. The flight attendant arrived before the poor woman became hysterical. She spoke to the woman and then to the repellent carnivore in low tones trying to calm them down.

After she left, the guy stayed still for a few moments, but then started getting squirmy again. Before long he was back at it, now digging rather large clumps out from under his stiff, bloody trouser socks.

Thankfully, the flight wasn’t that long. Even though it seemed like hours, we soon landed in Brussels and I got off the plane as quickly as I could, ran through the airport, jumped into a taxi, and arrived at my mom’s apartment in record time. As we greeted each other she asked me if I was hungry to which I answered a quick, “No!” In fact, at that moment I wasn’t sure I’d ever eat again!

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

aaron April 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm

And then you woke up. Freaky dream, but it didn't really happen.


kayla March 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm

insensitive jackass


Jojo April 20, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Not so quick with your dismissal, Aaron. Google "self-cannibalism" and you'll find that it's a recognized disorder.


Hugh April 21, 2009 at 12:31 am

OMG if that's a true story, thats the most disturbing thing I ever heard.


Kyle March 31, 2011 at 3:11 am

I Agree, so freaky.


Holly Wendy Baxter April 21, 2009 at 9:44 am

Fellow Flyers,

I promise you, this disgusting story is true. I could never make up such sickening stuff. To me, the most unbelievable part is that the Flight Attendant did nothing. Surely, she must have been as repulsed as we were (still today I get grossed out whenever I think of it). In fact, the main reason I wanted to write this down was in an attempt to "exorcize" it from my mind.


Kath December 9, 2009 at 11:20 am

You've just solved all of my dieting problems. Now whenever I feel like eating (when I'm not truly hungry), I'll think about your tale. Because, truly, I am almost nauseated enough to be sick right now. Bleaurgh.


Hugh April 21, 2009 at 10:08 am

I feel so bad for you. I don't know what I would have done.


Poco April 22, 2009 at 10:58 am

That's just foul. I've seen this sort of thing before (though not nearly as extreme) and it disgusted me.


Beck April 28, 2009 at 8:33 am

Just reading this made me sick to my stomach. I can't even begin to imagine what you and his seatmate went through. I think, though, that I would have 1) tossed my cookies and 2) made A LOT of noise about the cause in order to get the FA to take action on it. That is just repulsive!!


Julianne May 4, 2009 at 10:15 am

I think that I may be sick. This image is burned into my mind. My skin is crawling. I may skip dinner tonight.


Anomia May 13, 2009 at 1:17 pm

I couldn't even finish this story. You poor thing – what a horrible experience!


Hannah November 13, 2014 at 8:33 am

I couldn’t finish it either. To be stuck watching that on an airplane… *shudder*


Owen May 20, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I believe it's true, and it may be a variation of a genetic condition (forget what it's called) where the sufferer feels an overwhelming compulsion to eat their own flesh; gads, how unpleasant


Rob May 27, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Something is wrong here….I think he was infested with crabs or nits and bad general personal habits (crabs don't care about personal hygiene but certainly enjoy bad types).

The spots on the 'back of his shirt' could be caused by nits.

Or, I wonder if he is the type of traveler who has been re-spreading bedbugs to every hotel in the world.

I'm trying to be clinical about it because what I find disgusting is imagining who could possibly have been in the seat on the flight just before mine.

Nits, crabs, lice, all love warm cushiony softness….


Atari May 30, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Why was there no clarification about the 'bloody' on his back? How was that related and why did it exist at all?

Moreover, I was not laughing, exactly, but while reading this (I read it in its entirety) I was squirming and grimacing but refused to stop reading.



Toronto2009 July 6, 2009 at 10:30 am

People are too passive these days in the hopes of keeping 'politically correct' and not 'hurting anyone's feelings'. This person was clearly disturbing everyone around him and I definitely would have said something! When did flying become so disgusting!?


Mike October 27, 2009 at 5:54 am

I'm sick thinking about it. uhhhhhhh


Mack October 27, 2009 at 8:08 am

That is one of the most disgusting things I've ever read.


USMom October 30, 2009 at 11:51 am

You know, I couldn't read this whole thing either. That is nasty, and I may not eat tonight. Actually, this can be my diet enforcer (no, I've never taken up more than my seat in a plane).


Hardik March 22, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Man… Thats way too gross !! Just had lunch.. Now I feel like I am gonna puke!!!


College Kid November 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

NSFW – almost threw up a little on my desk


Elizabeth James May 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Ew I remember in school this kid would peel off scabs and lick the blood yucko still makes me sqirm but he was a good mate and we got on well. I miss him. But I dont miss that.


Gervoll May 13, 2011 at 4:19 am

Maybe if you had waited for the return flight , he would have completely devoured himself ….. problem solved !!!


FF with 1.2 mil es February 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Ok, I can honestly say, this would be classified as a flight from hell. Other than wearing a full body condom, nothing you can do. Yeah pretty disgusting to say the least. I wouldn't want to be seated next to someone like this. I'd be the bathroom scrubbing myself silly hoping I didn't catch anything.


Wendy June 4, 2012 at 11:25 am

OMG I was just eating lunch……….I think Im going to ralph…


Hannibal March 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I'm starving


Chef July 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Sounds like a trip going wrong…


TAM September 29, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Sounds like Methamphetamine to me


Maggie May 13, 2015 at 1:29 am

Please let this story be fake…


Bridget February 24, 2019 at 9:02 pm

The story about the girl from India is true. I think they might have exaggerated a bit on "The Simpsons" for comedy. When I studied medical coding, one of the codes was for kuru and that's a disease people get in their brains from eating human flesh. I believe self cannibalism exists along with regular cannibalism.


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