WARNING: This post contains mentions of bodily injury and death. Please proceed with caution.
The airport is a truly lawless place. Time feels like it simply does not exist there, everyone is exhausted, and it seems like something is always going wrong somewhere in the terminal you're in. Pure chaos, honestly. If any job is likely to have some wild stories, it's probably an airline employee. Fortunately, Redditor u/New-Low5765 inquired, about just that recently! They asked, "People who work in the airline industry, what are some of the wildest things you have seen?" Here are 16 capital-W wild stories 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. Turns out those guys scatter when they panic and try to hide under anything and everything."
2. "A flight diverted to my airport because a girl in hotpants got uncontrollable diarrhea from the laxatives she took before the flight. She shit in her seat, down the aisle, and all over the bathroom. Five other passengers had uncontrollable vomiting because of this and the panic on the plane from the crew and rest of passengers caused the plane to make an emergency landing. They ended up having to cancel the remaining leg of the flight to decontaminate the plane."
3. "A coffin with dead body inside was left off the flight due to overload. Nobody notified us or the family it belonged to. The family realized what happened because they saw it on the tarmac while the plane was leaving and started screaming to us."
4. "A fully naked woman just walked through the terminal and tried to walk through security like she wasn’t fully naked."
5. "Someone had the tip of their finger cut off when closing the door to the plane and didn't say anything until the flight landed at the arrival gate. When we opened the door to get off, the chunk of finger fell out. They then said, 'Oh yeah, that's my finger. You can throw it away.'"
6. "I worked part-time loading bags. One day, I felt one vibrating. I followed protocol and notified my supervisor. He pulled the bag and had it X-rayed while the plane was held in place. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. A bunch of people missed their connecting flights because a vibrator was accidentally turned on. Next few times it happened, I loaded it right along side the others. I figured that if it was a bomb that was vibrating, we were all dead already."
7. "Worked as ground crew. Second day on the job, we were issued a notice to gather. When you check in every morning, you’re supposed to always take a breathalyzer test to prove you can like, you know, ride around the tarmac, use pushbacks, etc. For whatever reason this dude hadn’t taken it/got past without taking it, snd he was definitely not sober. He'd been tasked with pulling a 370 into a hangar. He decided to eyeball it for whatever reason. So there we were, watching a video of this absolute loon break the whole wing off the plane while damaging the hangar in the process. Because he was drunk, insurance didn't kick in. We were promptly told that Christmas bonuses might be a bit smaller that year."
8. "I was a gate agent for 13 years. Had a flight leaving and was waiting with a coworker for it to push back. We had the jetbridge off and everything was buttoned up. Human remains (HR) had just come in on the aircraft and were still in the baggage cart attached to the tug. One of the ramp agents hopped in the tug, CRANKED the steering wheel to the right, and gunned it. The human remains went FLYING out of the baggage cart in full view of the boarded flight. The HR always come in a big white box with 'HUMAN REMAINS, HANDLE CAREFULLY' written in huge letters on the side, so I have no doubt half of the plane saw it. Thank God the box didn't break open or that would have been traumatic for everyone involved."
9. "I saw the pilot walk into the passenger area and say, 'I'm not flying this piece of shit,' and get off the plane. All the passengers followed him."
10. "We had a small commissary buggy to stock up planes when they’d land. It was a tiny little car that went 30mph max. Somehow, a bag of toilet paper fell off the passenger's seat and landed on the gas pedal with nobody in it. The buggy did circles for five minutes before it hit a wall. It almost took out several planes in the process. The driver got suspended for only a week…she was our union steward."
11. "There were two suitcases checked in that were full of nothing but weed."
12. "My friend is a commercial pilot and he was flying from Dublin to NYC. Halfway through the flight, the engine fire light came on. They were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Panic ensued, but it turned out to be a guy smoking a cigarette in the toilet and that triggered the engine fire light. The guy got in pretty serious trouble over it."
13. "My dad was a reservation agent for Piedmont, then US Airways. A man called in one day because he had sneezed while in the lavatory and lost his dentures down the toilet. He wanted them back."
14. "I’m an aircraft mechanic. My wildest call had to be the time a refueling hose popped. I drove out to the gate and it looked like a geyser of fuel was spraying up out of the hose. Someone hit the emergency-stop as I got out of my van, and I started inspecting the plane. The entire right engine (CRJ-900) and a good portion of the right rear of the fuselage was soaked with fuel. I was standing there wondering what they expected a mechanic to do about all this when I got a call from my office because the pilots were wondering if they were good to go. They were not. We ended up towing the plane back to our hangar to wash the whole thing."
15. "I worked security at LAX back in the '70s. One time, I was manning the metal detector when this guy in a trench coat came blasting through and didn't stop when I asked him to empty his pockets. As he brushed past me, I saw a holstered gun under his coat and flagged the airport police. Later that night, I was helping out at baggage claim when I saw the same guy hanging out by the exit doors and I called in to find out what was going on. 'Don’t worry about it,' was all I was told. A few minutes later, a large man in an expensive suit exited the terminal, and all hell broke loose. Cop cars came in from every direction, the guy in the trench coat grabbed the man guy, cuffed him, and opened one of the metal suitcases he was carrying, which was full of drugs."
16. And finally, "I was on base maintenance for my national airline carrier in 2013 or so. Aircraft was scheduled for take off, and the pilot followed procedure per the usual: the chocks come off the wheel, the engine spools up, and it taxies to the runway. Except the ground personnel didn't clear the chocks in time, because he didn't follow procedure. They're often poorly trained or not at all as part of cost cutting. Pilot spooled up the engine and it sucked the ground personnel straight into the turbofan."
"His torso was pinned against the fan cone, which shredded his limbs and head right off. We spent the next two weeks decommissioning the engines. Damn near a $5 million bill. His family got a monthly severance. Now I know what it's like to power-wash someone's bones out of complex machinery."
Have you ever worked at an airline company? Do you have a wild story like these? If so, tell us about it in the comments below or via this anonymous form.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.