Sometimes, all I want to do is skip the airport, the flight and the long journey to the hotel and just get on with the holiday and avoid dealing withmy worst flight experiences. I used to adore flying, seeing it as a wonderful part of the holiday experience, but to be honest now I just want it over with. Whether that is sharing my personal space with other humans, long delays or terrible turbulence I’ve had some awfully bad flights.
So I thought I’d write them down.
Here’s a collection of some of my worst flight experiences, for your enjoyment!
I was on my way to Barcelona for my first solo trip away. I was excited, mostly because I adore Barcelona but also because I’d spent three hours in the lounge and I’d made the most of the prosecco. As with all Ryanair flights, they get you to the gate early and make you queue for what seems like is an eternity. But this time I didn’t mind that much because like a baller I’d upgraded to priority boarding as this was the first flight post “cabin baggage gate” and I wanted my luggage with me.
What I hadn’t done is pre-book my seat. I was philosophical about this, despite being allocated the middle one. The horror. But I’m pretty small, the flight is pretty short, so what’s the worst that can happen?! Well, the worst that can happen is the first of one of my worst flight experiences.
I honestly at one point though I was getting the row to myself. But lo and behold, just second before the plane door closed a woman got on and squeezed in next to me by the window. Reason number a million not to fly Ryanair. Her thigh was literally rested on top of mine, and within seconds she whipped out a pack of bbq chicken wings and started (incredibly) chewing through the bones. Crack crack crack. I was pinned to my chair by my thigh and her hair was so massive it lay across my face. I tried to politely ask her to adjust but she didn’t speak English. That is, until it came to ordering food, which she did in a perfect English accent.
Enraged and uncomfortable I did the only British thing possible and order a red wine. If you are wondering if there is such a thing as a bad red wine ladies and gentleman, let me tell you even a cheap merlot necked out of a plastic cup is delicious in the right circumstances.
I started to calm down. I thought I’d go in for a little nap despite being continually elbowed in the face. There was genuinely no need, but this is the world we live in. Resigned to the next two hours, I popped my headphones in and breathed deeply.
But. It gets worse.
The woman seated next to me, who had been so anti-social, so rude, took it to levels that even surprised me.
She finished her panini and wiped her hand on my thigh.
I exclaimed, I asked her (politely) what she was doing and gestured to the napkins on her tray table. She shrugged, ACTUALLY LAUGHED AT ME, and turned away.
I did the only thing I knew how to. I ordered another glass of red wine, glowering in my middle seat wishing I’d shelled out for the extra six quid to pre-book my seat after all.
We’d had such a wonderful time in Oslo. Sure it had been minus 16 with a foot of snow, and yes we’d nearly bankrupted ourselves buying burgers and beers by the harbour. But we were happy and ruddy faces and ready to come home.
But it turns out Ryanair definitely wasn’t ready for us. Or at least, the runway wasn’t.
We arrived at an extremely out of town airport for our flight home, not too early because this airport had literally a Delice de France, inexplicably an Irish bar and 10 metres worth of duty free to its name. We went though security, sat down in a bare departure lounge and watched a Ryanair flight depart for some other obscure destination. Our turn next, I mused.
Up pinged a notification on my Ryanair app. DELAYS due to the weather conditions at the airport. I didn’t understand. It was clear (but cold) and we’d just watched a Ryanair flight take off. An hour passed, and another flight took off. It wasn’t ours.
A rumour started whipping its way through the lounge amongst the London Stansted passengers. It’s not the weather. It’s not the weather. The crew haven’t turned up.
Another notification popped up on the app after another hour. FIVE NORWEGIAN KRONA HAS BEEN LOADED ON TO YOUR BOARDING PASS. We headed for the only option in departures and managed to get a baguette each for crazy Norwegian prices.
More hours passed. More planes took off that weren’t ours. They were rerouting people to the other airport in Oslo but not us. We were trapped in a faceless room. A room that wasn’t set up for long waits, that was built for budget passengers and that didn’t care if you were sat on it’s cold hard plastic seats for 7 hours.
7 hours passed. There was movement at the desk. It was dark outside. We were summoned, quickly and checked in abruptly. Through the dark I could make out a plane. The crew was here. I couldn’t care less at this point whether it was the weather or lack of crew or the case of the can’t be arsed. I was leaving! No longer did I have to stare awkwardly at an off white wall.
Except we were ushered to the plane. Which wasn’t ready for us. And we stood, outside on the concourse in the cold and snow. It was minus 16. It had been minus 16 all weekend but we hadn’t worn our thermals because we thought we’d be on a hot, small plane. I shivered there for 30 minutes, honestly trying to remember a time I’d been colder. Either I couldn’t or my brain stopped functioning, standing outside in the cold and the falling snow waiting for those plane doors to open.
Finally we boarded. And whilst the actually journey was fine, the overall thing was one of my worst flight experiences. The next morning, even after a night in fleece pyjamas I woke up with the feeling of cold washing over me. And of a stale prawn baguette and cold hard seats that were ever meant to be occupied for seven hours.Have you ever had a really terrible flight? You're not alone, here are my worst flight experiences.Click To Tweet
I hadn’t quite considered what the first flight out of Luton Airport to Amsterdam would be like, but as I made it through security and entered departures at 4.30am, I definitely wasn’t ready for what I saw.
It was, for want if a better expression, a bit like a budget pub chain minutes before closing time. The stale stench of lager filled my nostrils and I lost count of the L plates and fancy dress of the hoards of stag and hen parties that spilled across the area.
I’m no judge of character, but most people here looked like they’d been on the booze for hours. It was 4.30am.
I only wanted a flat white and a croissant.
I got my breakfast and perched tentatively between a stag and a hen party, eyes glued to the departure board ready to pounce as soon as the gate had been announced. We were off and I was gone, like a shot just wanting to get on the place and get going. Except actually, it was only going to get worse.
I took my seat at the end of a row and folded my arms into my lap, book out and headphones in. It was just a short flight and I was SO EXCITED to meet some new friends at the other end that really at this point nothing could dull my 6am mood.
The plane filled up, hen after stag and more and more incredibly drunk stags. It’s cool, I mused. It’s just an hour.
The plane doors closed. I glanced around me. I was seated slap bang in the middle of huge, inebriated stag party. I drew in a deep long breath. It’s fine. I turned up my headphones.
We’d only been in the air 10 minutes when the hassle started. Not directed at me but about me. Lewd comments that I’m far too polite to repeat here were exchanged across the aisle and over my head. Rating my attractiveness, my sluttiness, which sexual positions I preferred and whether I’d “do it with girls”. Did they thing I couldn’t hear them, or were they fully aware of the humiliation rising red in my cheeks.
As the plane came into land, I caught sight of the two men sitting next to me making sexual gestures directed at me. I fixed my state ahead of me, and left the plane as quickly as possible. Have you experienced worse than that? That had to be one of my worst flight experiences
From New York
New York had been perfect. I’d spent such an incredible weekend with my mum, walking blocks with our coffees, ordering cosmopolitans at every bar we came across and staring out for miles from the top of the Empire Stare Building. We weren’t ready to come home, but we knew we had to.
We collected our bags from our hotel, waiting patiently for our big yellow taxi to pick us up to make the sad, but ultimately satisfying trip back to JFK. I was tired, we had a night flight. Before I knew it, I’d be at home making a very British cup of tea.
I could see my Mum on the phone now, face contorted into concern. I didn’t think anything of it. Maybe it was work? It was a Monday after all. As I drew closer to her, the tone of her voice didn’t sound like a work conversation. It was too familiar. Too, something.
Mum has my up the phone and busied me out of the hotel to the sidewalk where we were to await our transport. She turned to me.
“Sam”. she said, deliberately choosing her next words. “Ollie is in the hospital and he might not make it through this flight”.
Tears pricked hot and hard against my eyes, stinging against my skin as they fell one after another in quick succession. Ollie was my beloved cat. This was out of the blue. I was literally on the other side of the world. I tried to keep it together. I didn’t sob uncontrollably. I clenched my hands into a fist in the taxi, in my lap trying to take my mind off what I couldn’t control.
That flight was the most traumatic I had ever spent. One ofmy worst flight experiences ever. I couldn’t communicate with my family who were by Ollie’s side, with the vet. I didn’t really understand what was wrong. I knew there was a chance we’d land and he’d already be gone and I couldn’t get my head around that.
I stared into nothing on the plane. Are wordlessly. Had a G+T to steady my nerves. That flight was unremarkable in so many ways, except for the turmoil in my head.
After an excruciating afternoon and night I landed at once. I tentatively switched on my phone, not sure I was ready for what I was about to read or hear.
Ollie had made it through the night. Relief flooded my body, but it was hollow. My flight couldn’t have been any worse. I was already broken.