Caution: This article contains graphic descriptions and mentions of bodily harm and death. Reader discretion is advised.
Airports are often chaotic and unpredictable places. Time seems to stand still, exhaustion is a constant companion, and there’s always some sort of mishap happening somewhere in the terminal. With all the chaos, it’s no surprise that airline employees have some wild stories to share. Recently, Redditor u/New-Low5765 asked airline industry workers to share their wildest experiences. Here are 16 jaw-dropping stories that employees shared:
1. “As a baggage handler, I once had a shipment of live Alaskan crabs escape their container on the ramp. Flights were delayed as these crabs panicked and tried to hide under anything they could find.” – u/Gregwaaah
2. “A flight had to divert to my airport because a girl in hotpants experienced uncontrollable diarrhea from the laxatives she had taken before the flight. She defecated in her seat, down the aisle, and all over the bathroom. Five other passengers couldn’t control their vomiting due to this incident, causing panic on the plane and leading to an emergency landing. The remaining leg of the flight had to be canceled in order to decontaminate the plane.”
3. “A coffin with a dead body inside was left off the flight due to overcrowding. Neither us nor the family it belonged to were notified. The family only realized what had happened when they saw the coffin on the tarmac as the plane was leaving, and they started screaming for help.” – u/elenivog
4. “I witnessed a fully naked woman walking through the terminal, attempting to pass through security as if she wasn’t completely naked.” – u/Commercial-Chance561
5. “Someone had their finger tip severed when closing the door to the plane, but they didn’t say anything until we landed at the arrival gate. When we opened the door, the chunk of finger fell out, and they casually said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s my finger. You can throw it away.'”
6. “I worked part-time loading bags, and one day I felt a bag vibrating. Following protocol, I notified my supervisor, who had the bag X-rayed while the plane remained stationary. It turned out to be a vibrator that accidentally turned on. Several passengers missed their connecting flights due to this incident. However, the next few times it happened, I loaded the vibrating bag alongside the others. If it had been a bomb vibrating, we would have all been dead anyway.” – u/robbmann297
7. “I worked as ground crew, and on my second day, we were gathered for a meeting. Every morning, we were required to take a breathalyzer test to ensure we were fit to work on the tarmac. However, one person managed to skip the test without anyone noticing, and he was clearly intoxicated. He was assigned to pull a plane into a hangar. Instead of following instructions, he decided to eyeball it. We watched in horror as this reckless individual broke the wing off the plane and damaged the hangar in the process. Since he was drunk, insurance didn’t cover the damages. We were told that our Christmas bonuses might be smaller that year.” – u/ProbablyChe
8. “During my 13 years as a gate agent, I once had a flight about to depart, and I was waiting with a coworker for it to push back. The jetbridge was detached, and everything seemed ready. However, human remains had just been loaded onto the plane and were still on the baggage cart attached to the tug. Suddenly, one of the ramp agents hopped into the tug, cranked the steering wheel to the right, and sped off. The human remains went flying out of the baggage cart right in front of the boarded flight. Thankfully, the box containing the remains didn’t break open, which would have been traumatic for everyone present.”
9. “I witnessed a pilot walking into the passenger area and saying, ‘I’m not flying this piece of shit,’ before leaving the plane. Surprisingly, all the passengers followed him.” – u/Jaded-Session8422
10. “We had a small commissary buggy for restocking planes upon landing. It was a tiny car that could go up to 30mph. One day, a bag of toilet paper fell off the passenger seat and landed on the gas pedal, causing the buggy to go in circles for five minutes. It almost collided with several planes before hitting a wall. The driver was suspended for only a week, as she was our union steward.” – u/tweezer606060
11. “Two suitcases were checked in, and they turned out to be full of nothing but weed.” – u/Traditional_Pair4840
12. “A friend of mine is a commercial pilot, and during a flight from Dublin to NYC, the engine fire light came on halfway through the journey. Panic ensued, but it turned out that a passenger was smoking a cigarette in the toilet, triggering the engine fire light. The passenger faced serious consequences for their actions.”
13. “My dad worked as a reservation agent for Piedmont, then US Airways. One day, a man called in because he had sneezed while in the lavatory and lost his dentures down the toilet. He wanted them back.” – u/egglayingzebra
14. “As an aircraft mechanic, one of the wildest calls I received was when a refueling hose burst. I rushed to the gate, and there was fuel gushing out like a geyser from the hose. Just as I got out of my van, someone hit the emergency-stop button, and I began inspecting the plane. The right engine and a significant portion of the right rear fuselage were drenched in fuel. I wondered what the mechanics were expected to do in this situation when I received a call from my office, informing me that the pilots were wondering if they could proceed. Obviously, they couldn’t. We had to tow the plane back to our hangar to clean it thoroughly.” – u/xarumitzu
15. “Back in the ’70s, when I worked in security at LAX, I once encountered a guy in a trench coat who rushed past me without stopping to empty his pockets. As he brushed past, I noticed a holstered gun under his coat and immediately alerted the airport police. Later that night, I saw the same guy loitering near the exit doors at baggage claim. I called in to find out what was happening, and all I was told was, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ A few minutes later, a well-dressed man exited the terminal, and chaos erupted. Police cars swarmed the area, and the guy in the trench coat handcuffed him, revealing a metal suitcase full of drugs.”
16. “In 2013, while working in base maintenance for a national airline carrier, an aircraft was scheduled for takeoff. The pilot followed the usual procedure: the chocks were removed, the engine spooled up, and the plane taxied to the runway. However, the ground personnel failed to remove the chocks in time because the pilot didn’t follow protocol. Due to poor training or cost-cutting measures, the ground personnel were ill-prepared. As the pilot revved the engine, it sucked in the ground personnel, tearing their limbs and head off. We spent the next two weeks decommissioning the engines, resulting in a nearly $5 million bill. The family of the deceased employee received a monthly severance. This incident gave me a firsthand understanding of what it’s like to clean someone’s remains out of complex machinery.” – u/monkeywithawrench13
If you have ever worked in the airline industry, do you have any wild stories to share? Let us know in the comments below or through this anonymous form.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.