Most shocking things people have seen on planes

Kristine Tarbert
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

If you’ve ever been stuck with a snoring seat neighbour on a long-haul flight, or had to deal with the six-year-old hitting the back of your seat for hours, then count your blessings.

Because it turns out those annoyances are nothing compared to some of the shocking things people have seen on planes.

Crew members and passengers alike have shared some of their horror stories when it comes to passengers on a new Quora thread which asked “what’s the shadiest thing you’ve seen a passenger do?”

This doesn’t even come close to being as bad as some of these stories. Photo: Getty

And fair warning, some of these are not for the faint-hearted.

Chain smoker

A passenger traveling to the US recalled how he busted a fellow traveller flouting the no-smoking rules mid flight.

“An hour or so into the flight, he got up to go to the bathroom with the cigarette behind his ear. Although it was dark and I wasn’t sure, I felt that the cigarette was missing as he walked back to his seat,” he wrote on the thread.

“This happened once every 45 minutes or so. After the fourth or fifth time, a flight attendant announced on the PA system that ‘they had reason to believe that someone had been smoking in the bathroom’.

“I told the attendant that I have a good idea who it might be. We did not see him get up again. Before we landed, they made an announcement to the effect that we had to sit still once we landed because the airport police would board the plane to apprehend him.”

The sign clearly says ‘no smoking’. Photo: Getty
So inappropriate

A former flight attendant revealed how she noticed a couple doing something extremely inappropriate in their seats during a flight. 

“I once had a [passenger] give her husband a hand job on an evening flight. Cabin lights were off but they had their overhead light on and I was disturbed.

“I signalled for her other flight attendant and she turned on the cabin lights, they stopped.”

Another cabin crew member who has worked well-known airlines had to deal with something even more sinister.

“There was a mum who complained that the passenger sitting next to her 12-year-old daughter was grabbing her thigh,” he said. “When we moved him to another seat, he said ‘I’m sorry, I misbehaved’. That was really creepy.”

Hungry passenger

On crew member, who has been working as a flight attendant since 1994, recalled a time she was giving out breakfast two hours before the plane was due to land, and some passengers were still sleeping.

“When they do, if I can drop the table, I will and put their breakfast tray on it,” the staff member explained.

“I was picking up the empty trays, when this one passenger asked me for his breakfast. I had put his breakfast on his table, but the guy sitting near him just ate it! I couldn’t believe it! He ate his own breakfast and the one belonging to his seat mate.”

I’m going to steal you’re food! Photo: Getty
Dead gran walking

This story however definitely takes the cake. A former airline worker from the 60s and 70s revealed how they once realised they had an extra passenger on board a flight to New York.

He starts off by explaining that “back in the 70s” passengers often carried very large valet bags that could be stored in the in-cabin closet. 

“These were by design a heavy bag to store,” he said. “But in this one case the contents of the bag was not discovered until we lowered the closet upon landing.

“Turns out we had a passenger that was not on the manifest, but the truely disturbing part was that the passenger was not alive. Apparently they wanted to bury granny in New York.”

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