Dealing with obnoxious customers is challenging enough as it is. Combine that with being in a confined space 42,000 feet up in the air and you are going to hear some interesting stories of obnoxious passengers!
All content has been edited for clarity.
“I Can Be Obnoxious Too”
“I work on the small regional planes no one really likes to be on. They’re small we get it, but the seats really aren’t much smaller than mainline if at all, plus we don’t have middle seats, just window, and aisle. So I was working a full flight from Houston to somewhere in the Midwest, both places where it’s common to have large people.
Well, this fairly large guy got on while we were about halfway through with boarding and realized the guy he had to sit next to was also fairly large. They were about the same size really. Well before he took his seat, he stormed back to me and asked if he could take one of the empty seats in the back.
I knew it was going to be a full flight so I told him not at the moment but if there were any empty rows I would come get him.
He said something about the guy next to him being too big and spilling into his seat.
I checked it out and it wasn’t even that bad. The guy fit just fine. Boarding started to slow and with every passenger trickling in, he looked back to see if he could go. I had to tell the guy at least five times to wait. Well sure enough we were full. I was doing my count and told him he had to stay there.
He gave a big sigh and started grumbling about how ridiculous it was. He proceeds to cross his leg and lean as far into the aisle as possible, literally an inch from the seat across from him so anytime anyone had to pass him they had to say excuse me and he would make a big huff about leaving a couple of inches so they still had to squeeze by.
My job required me to make that walk many times a flight, a couple of times with a large heavy cart. I knew what he was doing so I made sure I pushed my side of the cart as close to him as possible. After having to say excuse me five times and him making a scene, embarrassing the guy next to him, I stopped saying it and just walked into him every time.
Things calmed down but he still wouldn’t sit right in his seat, he wanted to make a point. So I only did trash runs when it looked like he was about to fall asleep. I can be obnoxious too.”
“I will admit, our passengers are pretty low-maintenance most of the time aside from the typical grumpy, annoying run-of-the-mill nonsense. So when someone is abnormally terrible it’s hard to forget.
It was a morning flight from Las Vegas to Seattle, the whole crew was on their last leg of their four-day trip, exhausted, and trying to get home. This classic Vegas-five-foot-nothing-blonde-floozie came on in last night’s clothes/makeup/weave, no shoes, and started slur-demanding blankets.
We didn’t have blankets on our flights, we explained that, yet she insisted we were lying and just being lazy. The whole time she was holding up boarding and we told her, ‘Ma’am nobody has blankets here, please take your seat. Like now.’
She took her seat but within five minutes she was ringing her call light repeatedly, bothering the other Flight Attendants to demand they stop being lazy and please just fetch her the blankets that we, time and time again, insisted we don’t have onboard. Ironically she was polite enough while she was being a complete pain in the rear end, so other than her reluctance to just chill out, I really had no reason to kick her off the flight. Yet.
The gate agent gave us a final opportunity to kick her off but she seemed to have finally come to terms with the lack of blankets and chilled. So thank goodness, the Pilots had to hold off our departure to press a few more buttons or whatever, and while we were waiting at the gate that’s when she lost it. Had we taken off with her on board, who even knows how much patience I would have had.
She started demanding all of our names and told us she was going to get us all fired because we refused to get her blankets. I told her one final time, and I honestly can’t help but laugh when I remember it, ‘I promise that if we had blankets it would be so much easier to give them to you than to continue having this terrible conversation.’
I gave our gate agent the go-ahead to take her off the flight, but now she refused to leave.
So the passengers were all furious obviously and yelling, ‘Kick her off already!’
We were like, ‘Duh, we’re trying!’
At this point, the procedure was to call the police if passengers refused to leave which could result in arrest, this usually lights a fire under any resistant passenger’s rear end and gets them off my plane. Unfortunately, police were at least an hour out from being available to arrest this pain, so they sent the three biggest firefighters to the scene.
She once again refused, and all logic went out the window. She then claimed she had a medical condition concerning her circulation and couldn’t walk off the plane any longer, so she should just be allowed to fly and that wouldn’t somehow turn into an in-air medical disaster. Yeah no.
With the Captain, the Flight Attendants, the Firefighters, and the Gate Agents all standing around trying to reason with this chick that she’s holding up all these nice people she finally cooperated. But she said she had to be wheeled off the plane because she couldn’t walk. That means pulling out our little rinky-dink onboard wheelchair which was the only thing narrow enough to fit down the aisles.
So we did it. With our teeth gritted, we wheeled her rear end off the plane. I kid you not, the whole cabin cheered. Like standing ovation. They said we as a crew handled everything as well as we could have, so that was a relief.”
“The second I greeted this couple at the doors I knew they were going to be trouble. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but hey, I’m only human and I had been doing this job too long to know a prick when I saw one. The guy was in his fifties and he was the kind of guy you could smell before you could see him coming. His wife was short and seemed kind of whacked out.
The second they got to the doors to board, the woman started asking when the food was going to be served and that she wanted a bottle of water for them both.
I thought, ‘Calm down, if everyone made these demands the second they boarded, we’d never take off.’
No matter! I got her the water and said in the least patronizing way I could that food would be served once we had taken off.
I was working in the business class area of this flight and I figured there was no way that these two were going to be my problem for much longer. Remember what I said about not judging a book by its cover? Well, turns out they were in Business Class. With me. For thirteen hours.
As soon as he sat down he wasted no time in taking off his flip flops and before I knew it his wife was on her knees cutting his toenails. Click, click, off they scattered all over the floor.
Fast forward to meal service and I asked them what they wanted. He wanted beef. She wants pasta. I went back to the galley and came back with the pasta, but she had gone to the toilet. Fine, I left it on her tray and let the husband know it was there for her. I went back to the galley to get the beef and come back and he was eating his wife’s food. I didn’t know what to do and assumed they had already discussed it or something and thought nothing of it.
Thirty minutes later, the woman was bought up by another crew member. Apparently, she got lost and couldn’t find her way back. Next thing I knew she was complaining to my supervisor that her food was forgotten. I told her that her husband ate it and he denied it.
By this point, we had run out of pasta and she was not best pleased by this news.
Over the next few hours, we had complaints from passengers saying that the guy was burping, farting, and otherwise being a gross monster. Sadly there wasn’t much we could do as it was a full fight and we couldn’t exactly move anyone around.
At one point I walked down the aisle and he was standing on his seat looking down at the sleeping passenger next to him. Literally just frozen there. I asked him if he was okay and he said he needed the toilet but couldn’t get past the passenger next to him.
I thought, ‘Why on earth don’t you just ask him to move them?’
I asked him, ‘Shall I ask him if he minds moving his legs, sir?’
He snapped back, ‘Well, I should think so I’ve only been standing here for days!’
The passenger moved his legs and this guy still managed to trip over him and nearly crush him or smother him to death with his body odor. He was so long in the toilet I nearly had to knock on the door to see if he was okay.
Once he came out he said he needed painkillers for his back. I said we could give him Advil if the pain was really bad. At this point, he took an empty packet of heavy painkillers out of his pocket and said they were prescribed to him and he wanted those exact ones.
I explained to him we weren’t a pharmacy. He was having none of it and complained to the supervisor.
After all of this nonsense, I was beginning to wonder why I took up this job and it was at that moment I heard a scream from the cabin.
I thought, ‘Give me strength.’
He had completely undressed and was walking stark down the cabin. His wife had once again gotten lost.
In the end, they were removed off the plane by the police in Singapore and it turned out they were off their rear ends on medicine and drinks.”
Doctor On Board
“I was flying back to Houston after visiting a good friend in New York City for his birthday, and my flight took off at about ten-thirty in the morning so it wasn’t a red-eye flight, but I had gotten up pretty early to make it to the airport on time.
I sat down, and the people I was sitting next to weren’t bad at all, quiet and respectful so I was pretty pleased. I put in my headphones and was just listening to some music and just relaxing and looking around the cabin. That’s when I noticed a tiny fifty-year-old woman across the aisle knocking back those little travel Grey Goose bottles like they were water. I thought it was a bit odd to be drinking relatively early in the day but also didn’t really judge her since I had been on flights under the influence.
Anyways, an hour passed and that’s when we hear the pilot say over the intercom, ‘If you’re a doctor, can you please head to the back of the plane.’
Everyone quickly looked around to see if they needed to move to let someone pass, and that’s when I notice this lady who had about six travel bottles of Grey Goose had gotten up and started walking to the back of the plane.
The guy next to me and I exchanged a quick, ‘Are you kidding me,’ look but we were comforted by the fact a lot of other doctors have gotten up, so we assumed the lady would come to sit down once she realized there were more sober doctors ready to help. Well, after another thirty minutes a lot of the doctors came to sit back down, but not this lady. She stayed back there for the rest of the flight helping the patient in the back.
At the end of the flight, EMS rushed on, asked us to stay seating, and helped an old lady and her husband off. I heard the old lady talking on the way off, so I assumed she was alright in the end and the day drinking doctor didn’t do anything wrong, but as someone who parties relatively often, the idea of being treated by a medical professional under the influence scares me.”
Private Charter Company
“I worked for a private charter company for two years. Lots of oil riggers, miners, private tours, pretty much man-children, and entitled pricks. We used to fly a bunch of thirty days on, seven days off type guys up in Northern British Columbia. These guys were notoriously bad, they just didn’t care and the company we subcontracted out of didn’t help by letting them basically do whatever they felt like. They really had that ‘I don’t care about your petty rules’ mentality about everything, which translated oh so well to being told what to do by a measly flight attendant.
In the middle of December, I was put on a four-day pairing to unload these guys which had me up at five o’clock in the morning to board the plane which took off at six-thirty. I did an eleven-hour loop going south with three stops, and back up to park and repeat putting me back at the hotel at six o’clock each night.
The airline had scheduled an absolute minimum crew rest, meaning any minor delays messed up the whole pairing. Literally, twenty minutes before the first day’s take off one of the NAV units blows. Airplanes have two but must fly with both for this very reason. Which delayed us considerably because another plane had to fly in with a whole other crew and a replacement piece.
By the time we took off, it was ten o’clock in the morning. The other flight attendants had been talking to the delayed passengers and we were getting a ton of ‘Your planes are pieces of junk,’ ‘you guys are a joke,’ and tons of abuse hurled at us. And of course, it was only the first day. On top of this, another flight attendant got deathly ill and was sent home after day one, a ride-along mechanic was sleep-deprived and blew the slide trying to rush off the plane. It was pretty much a complete disaster and we had three stops to go that day.
Fast forward to the final day and we were wiped out and just needed out of there. I had slept in and gone without a morning smoke which had put me a little on the edgy side. We were in the middle of taxiing to the runway and doing our safety demonstration when the In-Charge calls me via interphone, her voice was shot from doing announcements for the past four days straight and asked me to do them. I finished my checks in the back and started up the demo, keep in mind this is an extremely short taxi to the runway.
As I was doing the demo and the pilots were waiting for us to give the clear, some genius jumped out of the seat, since they had been told three times since boarding to remain seated with seatbelts fastened as we were about to take off, I assumed emergency and he beelined it to me right in the middle of me speaking the demo which I promptly stop.
I asked him if he was okay and was promptly met with, ‘Get me a pillow.’
Mustering all my calmness, I explained to him that I can get one for him the second we get in the air as we were about to take off and the pillows were located near the wing exits, and I can’t interrupt our safety checks and procedures.
He responded, ‘Just get me a pillow.’
I swear, there were only a number of times I can say I have been visibly seen red, and this was one of them.
I can’t remember exactly what I said but I’m pretty sure it was, ‘I’m not your servant, go sit down.’
He sauntered off to his seat where he started arguing with another passenger. I immediately regretted it and continue the demo keeping an eye on him.
Thankfully nothing really came of it, only the hilarious karma of telling a passenger I wasn’t their servant and realizing soon thereafter that the commissary they packed for us to give out was mini-cupcakes and Disney princess yogurt which I had to serve him.”
“My friend is dating a flight attendant. She told us this one guy took a dump in a vomit bag so he didn’t have to wobble down to the bathroom. They couldn’t find what was causing the horrific smell and considered landing the plane but the pilot noted they were only about forty-five minutes from their destination and landing, unboarding, and all would take longer.
They found the bag after everyone got up and left. There was some splatter on the seat, floor, and wall too. They had to use a different plane and hazmat that one.”
“I was on crutches and they called a flight attendant who was scheduled for a different flight later to wheel me on to the plane since she was just waiting around.
She was helping me get in my seat when she saw her husband with another woman sucking on his face. They were sitting together on the plane in matching shirts.
What I could tell from the screaming match that irrupted was he had told her he was going away on business to some other place than where this plane was headed. The cheapskate didn’t even pony up for a different airline because he could fly for free on his wife’s.
The worst part was her supervisor led her off the plane and as he was chastising her told her she would likely lose her job over the ‘public display.’
I really hope she didn’t. I spoke to the supervisor on her behalf to try and explain, but who knows.”
“My mom was a flight attendant for over twenty years. When she was pregnant with me, a flight she was working hit extreme unexpected turbulence. She was able to grab onto something at the last second, but other flight attendants and people not wearing their seatbelt were injured, and her one co-workers broke her tailbone pretty severely. She decided to stop flying until after I was born after that incident.
Another time, before I was born, she was on a plane that almost collided with another plane mid-air. She was sitting in her flight attendant seat, not by a window, at the time so she didn’t see it, but passengers said they could literally see the faces of the other people on the plane going by. The two planes were set for a head on collision but luckily the oncoming plane decided to divert to the side at the last second.
Then of course, there was 9/11, when all the flights were grounded and cell phones weren’t really working. My stepdad drove to North Carolina from Tampa Bay, Florida to get her but some of her friends working overseas flights were stranded in other countries for a while. She worked United so she knew some of the flight attendants in the planes that crashed. It was scary for me since I heard about what happened before finding out if she was okay.”
“I was working a red-eye from San Francisco to Chicago and after a quick snack service in First Class, the passengers were all sound asleep. The other flight attendant and I would check the aisle periodically, in case someone awakened and wanted something but it was a very quiet flight.
Suddenly the other flight attendant came bolting back into the galley with her eyes wide, and asked, ‘What are we going to do?’
I responded, ‘About what?’
She told me the man in the aisle seat on cabin right, in the first row had stood up and unzipped his pants.
I immediately went into the aisle and realized that he was sound asleep, standing facing the seat, urinating on the seat cushion, and then reached out as to ‘flush’ a non-existent handle on the headrest. Then he sat down!
Most business people flying night flights, had to go to work when they arrived at their destination, and we didn’t want him to have wet pants to do that. Our solution was to take a blanket from the overhead bin, fold it, and then as I tilted the man forward (I was the stronger of the two of us and he wasn’t a very big man) she slipped the blanket under him. I was so relieved that he didn’t wake up as if he had, I guess I would have had to explain what happened.
As it was, we had another three hours on the flight, and when he awakened upon descent, he was none the wiser. When he walked off the flight, his pants were a bit wrinkled, but adequately presentable.
Airplanes have an extremely dry atmosphere, and we knew his pants would be dry by landing. I’m so grateful that no other passenger saw what happened, and I am even more grateful this passenger never knew what he did. He was quite innocent, and I think he would have been so embarrassed.”
“I Threw His Card Away”
“I was working in business class and I had a lovely couple enjoying the service. We made jokes and they were both really relaxed. He was a lawyer in Frankfurt. It was a night flight back to Frankfurt from the Caribbean.
When everyone else was sleeping, he came to see me and gave me his business card. He told me I should call him as he really wanted to meet me. His wife was sleeping a couple of meters away.
I threw his card away.”