Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Aug 03, 2005 6:15 am

Airline Horror Stories

Tue Aug 17, 1999 5:17 am


I would like to hear/read some of your WORST airline flights ever. Tell me about the service, seats, flight attendents, the plane itself, airports, etc. Maybe something really dramatic happened. I and I'm sure plenty of other people would like to hear them.

Posts: 839
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 1999 4:01 am

A Near Crash!

Tue Aug 17, 1999 6:45 am

I like this topic.

I actaully almost witnessed a crash! Yes indeed. It was in the fall of 1990. My brothers and I were watching planes land on Runway 21 Right at Detroit (DTW). We were about 100 yards from the approach end, it was a really great spot. Anyway, there was a VERY low cloud base that day. The ILS was inopperative, so they were doing VOR approaches to 21 Right. The VOR antenna is about 200 feet to the right of the 21R centerline, thus when the planes broke out of the clouds, they had to make a quick left turn and allign with the runway. It was fabuloius to watch!

Here's the exciting part: A DC-8 (of some charter company) came very far right of the centerline when he broke from the clouds. It was very low, much lower than those that landed prior. The pilot tried to line-up but he was too low and too late! The aircraft banked left and than hard right, and left again! The right wing looked like it came within feet of hitting the ground! The aircraft went around immediately with a rumble and plume of black smoke! Everyone in the spotting area was in shock, not believing what they just saw! A Northwest Airlines vehicle that was on the airport at the time of the incident drove over to our spot and asked "Did ya'll see that?" He claimed that he and his co-workers were waiting for "the bang!" He was closer than we were, and said it was indeed very very close! The aircraft landed on another runway, 21 Left which was closed earlier, but reopened after in inident. Very interesting experience for me.

Posts: 368
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 1999 4:42 am

Scary Incidents

Tue Aug 17, 1999 9:46 am

July 1995-I was on board an American 727-200 en-route from Philadelphia to San Juan. There was a very heavy traffic pattern over San Juan on a stormy day (a hurricane was near by). It would take an hour more to get on the ground. The captain announced we may have to land in St Thomas to re-fuel. Thankfully San Juan cleared us for an emergency landing. Upon touching down 2/3 engines flamed out when reverse thrust was engaged. The center engine died while taxiing to the ramp so we had to be towed the rest of the way in.

July 1997-I was on board a Delta Express 737-200. During the flight we ran into some cat 2 turbulence and it sook some of the overhead bins open and my saxophone dropped out and smashed my fingers. When we touched down the cockpit door flung open and smashed into the lavoratory sending the snack cart down the aisle. Also, the number 2 reverse thruster failed which sent us careening across a grass island between the runway and taxiway causing a tire to pop of the gear. All of this exept the engine failure was due to poor maintnence.
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Joined: Sat Jul 24, 1999 6:10 pm

RE: Scary Incidents

Tue Aug 17, 1999 10:55 am

The only horrible thing that has happend to me was on a continental airlines 757-200 from houston to san francisco, right after takeoff the plane started shaking really bad, it wasnt turbulence, and the captain had announced that the
nose gear would not retract so we had to turn around make an emergency landing, it was uneventfull, so we get to the airport and the next flight out was in a couple hours, but there was a flight going to san jose on a md-80, so I got on that flight, and I sat right next to the engine which was real loud and the seats recline was restricted, and the air conditioning wasnt working until like 10 minutes after takeoff which really sucked, the other thing that has happend to me was a delta airlines 727, it was flying from cincinatti to jacksonville, we were alittle over halfway to jax when some generator went out, so we had to turn around and go back to cincinatti. Those are the only real bad things that have happend, but I really hate it when you sit in the back of a 727, dc-9 or md-80 and all you see out your window is the engine and all you hear is the whine of the engine.
Posts: 8196
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

It Started Off So Well.

Tue Aug 17, 1999 11:27 am

I flew from London to Brisbane (Australia), it was quite eventful. London to Athens was very pleasant, I got drunk with a dead-heading Olympic flight attendent. The next morning the Olympic 747 to Sydney left at 8 am which was a little painful. Great flight to Singapore then Sydney, where I arrived in the afternoon of the following day, to find that post "deregulation" (Aussie style) start-up Compass had collapsed that day, stranding A300 (-600R, no less) loads of angry passengers. I was bumped from my Ansett connection to BNE and ended up on a later East West BAe 146. I was quite tired and fragrant (not in a good way). The guy next to me was a Qantas A&P mechanic. Nearing BNE we flew into severe weather with wild turbulence (I was strapped in tight but my body kept getting thrown against the cabin wall) and stuff was flying around. Then we were struck by lightening and all the lights went out. It was Dec 20th ('90) and there was a tape of "upbeat" Christmas music in the PA. As the lights went out the tape started playing and we plunged down through the storm (presumably to our deaths) to the strains of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". There was a burning smell too. I was also nervous that with so many systems failing the pilots would forget to fly the plane (a surprisingly common cause of accidents, EA putting an L1011 into the Everglades and UA a DC8 into a Portland suburb being just two). There was some garbled PA announcement and a minute or two later we landed (contacted the earth firmly due to sudden altitude change is a better description) at Coolangatta. People were kissing the ground as they got off. The Qantas guy said he'd only ever seen the Pope do that, "But you would, if you were flown everywhere by Alitalia crews." (What a wag.) It was now very late and we were bussed (about a 90 minute drive) to Brisbane International Airport. It was a boiling tropical mid-summer night and the aircon on the bus was out, and I sweated like crazy the whole way. I was absolutely soaking within minutes. We arrived at the airport at midnight and I found a taxi and gave the driver the address of my friends where my family were staying (it turned out that when I hadn't arrived at the house as expected, and the storm hit the city, they thought we'd crashed cos the airline were extremely cagey about info on our flight). Unbelievably, the taxi driver informed me it was his first day on the job and handed me a street map. I really wasn't in the mood but had to look up the damn street and direct him. Oh yeah, I just remembered, even the final steps of my journey were a battle, as the outside lights at the house weren't on and I had to pick my way up this garden f***ing path and got hit in the face with branches and also walked (slowly) into a rose bush.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
Posts: 364
Joined: Sun May 23, 1999 9:01 pm

RE: Airline Horror Stories

Wed Aug 18, 1999 3:50 am

My horror story is quite dramatic, not exacly for me but for 56 people else:

Dec. ?20, 1992 (or 1993?): I was flying from São Paulo to Lisbon in a old TAP-Air Portugal L-1011. About one hour before landing Lisbon (+- 6am), the plane hit severe turbulence. It was a really heavy turbulence! The stowage compartiments over the cabin started to shake violently and there were cry and shoults aboard. It was a quite dramatic view. We had this bad weather and situation aboard untill the landing in Lisbon, safely done.
Now the worst part: on way to home, after checking-out, we listened in the automobile radio: "Martinair DC-10 just crashed in Faro due to poor weather".
Well, I've crossed the same such bad weather that some minutes later would crash a D10 and kill 56 (?) passengers.
This kind of situation (close to death) make us think: Why I'm alive and why some others will never more arrive home?


TP343, São Paulo, Brazil.

p.s. ask Mirage about this day. If he was already working at FAO he may remember.
Posts: 437
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 1999 5:51 am

RE: Airline Horror Stories

Wed Aug 18, 1999 5:08 am

I remember flying back from Vienna on TWA and enduring first a 12 hour delay in Brussels on my connecting L1011 flight. We were told a major delay at JFK had delayed the flight coming to pick us up in Brussels. When we got to JFK, the airport was a mess with delayed flights. We found out that a TWA L1011 had experienced an engine fire immediately after takeoff and made a quick landing. Everyone was evacuated and the plane burned. I had arrived feeling very annoyed with TWA but when I was in the First Class Lounge waiting, there was this woman at the bar that was shook up. The bartender kindly asked her why she was so glum, and she then (calmly at first) explained that she had been on the flight that burned and was waiting to take a new flight. She then suddenly got hysterically upset, and started crying and screaming that she didn't want to get on the new flight. TWA employees were called, but it took a long time to calm her down. I thought it was really thoughtless of them not to offer her to stay in a hotel room that night instead of booking on another flight. She later told people that she had told TWA that she was too frightened to take a flight out that night, but they had refused to pay for a hotel room, only for a flight out. They did later give in and put her up in a nice hotel.

Needless to say, after seeing her, I didn't feel annoyed about the delay.
Posts: 2604
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 1999 9:09 pm

RE: Airline Horror Stories

Wed Aug 18, 1999 9:24 pm

Not many horror stories for me, thank God. All I know is that for some reason, I'm MUCH more nervous to fly nowadays than in the past. I used to love to fly, and even turbulence never upset me. Guess I'm getting older and losing that sense of immortality.

I remember a Pan Am flight from LHR-JFK, where one engine went out right at takeoff. I heard and felt a strange vibration, and knew something wasn't quite right at the time. This was back in 1989. The pilot made an announcement that he was dumping fuel over the ocean and returning to LHR for an emergency landing. It sounded more exciting than it turned out to be. Pretty good landing with a 6 pound voucher for food.

Another occurrence that, to this day, I haven't been able to find out what happened: AA flight from DFW-SDF, landing late, ~2300. Usual approach, but right before touchdown, suddenly the pilot pulls up hard, brings the plane up and back around before landing in Louisville. I remember looking out the window and seeing that we were nearly touching the runway, at least at the same level as the terminal. The second time around the landing was fine. While exiting, I was going to ask what happened (not to place blame, but I was just curious as to what went on), but the pilot had his head lower than a farmer whose favorite coon dog just got run over. Guess he was embarrassed for some reason. Even the FA's were quiet. I surmised that maybe another plane was on the runway? UPS has quite a few planes on the runways at SDF at that time, but who knows?
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 1999 8:25 pm

RE: Airline Horror Stories (Long)

Wed Aug 18, 1999 10:34 pm

This incident happened to me around September 1985 aboard a 747-200 operated by the 'World's Favorite Airline' (PAH!).

I was flying LHR-BDG-POS onboard BA256 - I believe that was the number, the route has been discontinued for quite a few years now due to it being 'unprofitable'; I believe it's because they wanted to be exempt from the landing fees - Just like AA demands (in addition to a US$1 mil contribution) but I digress.

The first 8 hours of the flight (LHR-BDG) had been uneventful and it was a joy to feel the heat when the doors were opened at BDG at around 4pm (the hottest time of the day in the Caribbean - even though it was the middle of the rainy season). After the 1 hour refuel stop we took off for the 30-45 min segment to POS. Nearing the coast of Trinidad (having just flown over TAB in Tobago) the sun disappeared and we started to get surrounded by some very angry looking cumulonimbus clouds (hammerheads) around this time we were also about 5 minutes into our descent.

Now there are two options the pilot has at this point of the journey, either a) head over the mountains passing almost over POS itself and then doing a right hand circuit and intersecting the ILS to Runway 9 near the Shark waypoint. The other option is going along the northern coast of the island in a sort of extended left hand circuit, crossing the capital city of Port of Spain and once again intersecting the ILS via Shark.

Now I don't know why in the conditions that we encountered (i.e. raging thunderstorm and in the Caribbean they do rage) the captain would have decided to go through the mountains but this he did. We were about 1/4 of the way across the mountains (about 15000 ft or so) when we encountered some viscious turbulence. Now I am used to encountering turbulence on the trip though usually we encounter it in the LHR-BDG segment as we cross the Tropical Jet Stream meeting it this late in the flight was very unusual, even accounting for the mountains. All of a sudden the jumbo started to fall and when I say fall I mean FALL! For about a good 30-40 secs we were pulled down by what I can only think was a downdraft created by the mountains. The air hostesses were screaming their heads off, food trolleys were floating, my seatbelt was cutting off my circulation. I saw one of the hostesses white with panic gripping the seat next to her and screaming her head off - and they are supposed to be calming the passengers? Looking out of the window (I had a window seat) I saw the wings bent a good way over my head (good work on strong wings Boeing). We eventually passed through the downdraft and regained lift. The captain apologised over the PA and then said that it was too dangerous to proceed through the mountains (really?) and proceeded to turn northwestwards and head along the coast. The remaining 15 mins till we touched down were spent with people saying their prayers and giving thanks that we had not ended up spread across the mountains and the air hostesses trying to regain their composure and some sort of control over the passengers.

The only other incident I have had with any airline occured in December 1993. Once again I was travelling LHR-BDG-POS but this time on for a 10am flight - BW900 (L1011 -500) as BA no longer flew the route (and I wouldn't have flown with them anyway due to personal reasons - nothing to do with the experience I related above). I woke up that December morning looked out of my bedroom window and could see nothing but a sheet of white - i.e. the proverbial London 'pea soup' fog. I arrived at Terminal 3 Heathrow to see the departures board saying that my flight would be delayed. I didn't think anything of it at the time and proceeded to check in. The counter clerk told me that the inbound flight had been diverted to Manchester as the fog was to thick for aircraft to land at LHR and that she didn't expect us to be delayed by more than 3 hours. I went to the Burger King (2nd best place on the airport to view aircraft movements) and had a breakfast - as I usually do before any flight I take out of LHR. The fog was still fixed and it was virtually impossible to make out the Ghana Airways DC10 that was parked closest to the restaurant. About an hour later I went back to the counter to enquire about the status of my flight. I was then told that the airplane couldn't get a slot from Manchester to Heathrow and that the problem was being worked on. In the meanwhile the BWIA took all the waiting passenges to the Excelsior for a three course meal. Eventually the airplane came into LHR 7 hours later and we took off 8 hours later (6pm). Needless to say we didnt arrive at POS until 2am (-4 GMT) to see bleary eyed, freshly woken immigration/custom officers.

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Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:42 pm

No Gears?

Thu Aug 19, 1999 12:42 am

When my father flew from Stockholm-Arlanda to Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport with SAS 1990, there was something wrong with the landinggear. However, the pilot was pretty sure they were down, though there was no indicator that could confirm they were in locked and safe postition. So they had to fly one pass around the tower. The crew at the tower used binoculars to confirm that the gears actually were down. After this the pilot started the landing cycle. Guess how my father (and the rest of the passengers) felt seconds before touching down!! Fortunately everything turned out allright!

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Joined: Wed Aug 18, 1999 5:49 am

RE: Airline Horror Stories

Thu Aug 19, 1999 1:32 am

My most uncomfortable flight was also with BA, but the airline handled it very well - it got us in. In early 1998 - i.e. the first few days - there were some very severe storms in the UK - and in the Channel Islands. I was flying on a 737-400 from LHR to JER. The wind at Jersey was hitting 45-50 knots and it was raining heavily. The final approach was quite turbulent and one passenger was getting just a little bit upset. After some very strong and strong "crabbing", the 737 was placed firmly - and not too roughly - onto the runway. The wind was so strong that as we were disembarking, the whole aircraft was rocking slightly and the captain told me later that lightning had taken out the ILS just a few minutes before. It was not an unpleasant experience, not least because of the deserved confidence in an excellent crew.
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Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2005 4:11 am

RE: Airline Horror Stories

Thu Aug 19, 1999 5:44 am


If you know the month or exact date of the incident you can look for an incident report at under the Aviation section, Accident Synopses, Monthly lists of accidents. Fascinating reading there actually, anyway.


RE: Airline Horror Stories

Mon Aug 23, 1999 10:59 am


A flight attendant working for Comair (Delta Connection) told me that one day, a passenger saw an engine falling down (from the airplane) by his window. The flight attendant asked the pilot if an engine effectively felt down and he told her that the passenger was right...

She had to serve the passenger with a cognac...



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