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What is the worst experience you have had with an airline?


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I'm a very frequent flyer but unfortunately I have no horror story to share. I've never actually had any truly bad experiencs apart from the usual crying babies, delays and bad weather. Maybe I've been extremely lucky, but I also think it's because my expectations are very realistic. I've seen other passengers have irrational meltdowns over some of the most insignificant things. I think air travel brings out the worst in us.

I always arrive early, never try to push my luck with connecting flights, respect the rules and other passengers, remember that the cabin crew are human just like me, I know my place within the class system, I understand that paying just a little bit extra will turn me into a demi-god in the eyes of the airline, and that all airlines are not created equal. But above all, I try not to forget what an amazing miracle of engineering and logistical feat it is to get a huge aluminium tube into the air and safely back down. The gross sticky buttons on my entertainment system are not the end of the world.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

My meal fix: preorder Asian Vegetarian. Invariably a very healthy, mild curry, perfect for long haul.

A stewardess once frowned, "You're not Asian." I could only reply, "I'm not vegetarian either."

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sitting on the tarmac for hours at JFK with zero information, and no access to the toilets. Being told an hour out from Europe that the US-bound plane had run out of alcohol. Being scolded in a loud voice like a naughty child "What, you want another beer?" (only my second) on a domestic US flight.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Narrow body, window seat with a boy and his father adjacent landing in Dallas. The boy starts to look a bit green and then commences projectile vomiting. Childless at the time, I was surprised at how much a small thing could actually vomit, and anyone watching from the terminal would have seen my body crammed into the window frame as much as possible.

The father gathered his son and left without so much as a word. Not a nice thing to do, but with experience raising two kids now, I can to an extent sympathize.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Flying from Paris Charles de Gaul to Narita - Air France cabin crew on strike - our in flight meal was a POT NOODLE!... I can't remember what breakfast was. It was shocking. 11 hours on a plane and you evening meal was a bloody Pot Noodle.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Well said, M3M3M3. My attitude exactly. It is what it is and it's also amazing.

People forget that an airline is little more than a big, uncomfortable bus with way too many people on it which travels on air rather than on the road. I expect less from an airline than I do Greyhound. The major difference is no 10-15 minute stops to get off the bus along the route on trip of more than 10 hours. Now if only you could get the Shinkansen (or even Limited Express) experience in flight.

Most of my annoyances en route are the minor ones: crying babies (fix: custom made ear plugs are a must); running out of a certain meal by the time they get to my seat (fix: pre-order a dietary specific one); lack of legroom (blessing: I am petite and slim); and gross sticky buttons (fix: sanitizer).

However, one year while taking off from Calgary (Canada) in a 737, wind sheer caught the aircraft taking us down toward the runway. Once fully underway the Captain explained what had happened and apologized. The ashen faces of the cabin crew, however, and an overheard "that was too close" afterwards belied the calm and controlled explanation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Flying back to Japan from my dad's funeral we stopped in istanbul and because of snow no flights took off or landed for 3 days. We were stuck in the airport for 3 days and had to live on bottled water and soup.. That and Korean air with a very rude male flight attendant.

Turkish air, Korean air. Two airlines I avoid like the plague. Oh and United of course..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My 'bad' experiences have been relatively minor compared to what others have gone through, but my personal worst experience, and it's happened more than once, is when I travel alone and am asked after boarding or shortly after take-off to switch seats with someone who has family next to or near me. It's not so much that I mind doing it, it's that I'm singled out for starters, but what bothers me more than that is that I ALWAYS go early, board early, and get an aisle seat with any carry on luggage stowed above me. They single me out because I am alone. One time I was asked to switch they had first asked the Japanese woman in front of me, then suddenly stopped and looked at the seat number they had written, realized a mistake was made, and sure enough, looked at me and asked me to change. THeir reason was that the husband of the woman in front of me (where they person they originally asked was sitting) had been put elsewhere on the plane. I asked why and he answered they got to the airport late. I asked why me and not the person in front of me since the seat beside his wife was in front of me and the flight attendant started to sweat, and couldn't answer. I said I would but I wanted them to say specifically why me. They wouldn't, so I moved. When I was reassigned it was at the front of the plane instead of where I had been near the big (on a jumbo). There was no space for my luggage so the flight attendant assured me she would bring it up to their lockers near the front (since it wasn't much). She did not, which I'll get to. And the seat I was reassigned to was half taken up by a very obese Australian middle-aged man, and the window seat instead of isle. It was for a flight back to Canada, so for 10 hours. I was angry. When I an hour or so later wanted to go back to my luggage to get a book to read the Aussie sighed and said, "Are we going to have to do this often?" I rather gruffly replied, "Tell it to the airline!" (which I later apologized for, and we actually chatted it up about how crappy they can be). When I went to get my book I saw that my seat was not taken by the husband whom they said would take my seat, but the woman originally in front of me, with her seat taken by the husband. So, they had been correct in asking the woman to change seats, but systematically then asked me because they thought I would be better suited to be beside the white, overweight Aussie and gave my seat to her instead. I stood there for a moment, called over the same flight attendant, and asked rather upset, "What the hell is this?" All she could do, and she nearly cried, was say, "Moushiwake nai!". The movies on that flight were also the movies from NA to Asia, not Asia to North America, but that's relatively minor except that at the time they only had a couple of selections.

They did offer me a bottle of duty-free wine later, but I just asked whom I should complain to instead, which I did. I know it was petty, but I was pissed.... what's the reward for arriving early and doing everything by the book if you have to suffer for those who decide to show up last minute?

The only other bad thing to happen was when Air Canada cancelled a transit flight from Toronto to Chicago, which would have resulted in me missing my luggage and first class ticket to Narita direct. But I went to the Northwest counter and pointed out it was more cost effective for them to put me in an empty seat on a quick flight to make the first class flight then have me cancel that flight (back then you could still get a refund) and catch the next day's economy class flight. We argued for a while, and they said in order to make it they could put me on a flight leaving in 10 minutes but I would have to sit first class and pay the difference. I said no. They stared daggers at me but told me to go in. I did. I made my flight, barely, and the other people who were supposed to come in that group did not. So, I was a jerk and aggressive, but with reason, and as a result I made it. Otherwise my luggage might have been lost in Tokyo or left behind in Toronto and there is no way I would have arrived on schedule.

That's about it. A couple of other times they ran out of chicken and I had to have beef, or there were delays, but nothing serious. So, all told... nothing particularly awful.

Oh wait!! There was the day after the Shoe-Bomber when they decided to stop allowing people to take liquids on board planes and the airports were in chaos because at first they also denied you anything from duty-free despite being sealed and bought after customs, and the stores not having been told they couldn't sell it. I had several bottles of Japanese sake I had to leave at the gate because they told me I had no time to return to the main terminal by shuttle for a refund. Lost 30,000 yen.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Tokyo, Narita to Mumbai, India via Bangkok, Thailand trip - The flight was desparately trying to take of by speeding up on the runway. However the engine were not able to generate the throttle power for take off. The pilot gave up by the time the flight reached the end of the runway, took a u turn and parked the flight and only then announced to passengers that there was a "minor" technical snag which needs to be attended to. On board this flight we could feel the speeding jerks constantly as the flight was speeding up on the runway. This was the worst experience I ever had till date.

Now for the real reason for desparate attempt to take off from Narita. Narita charges exhorbitant parking(stacking) charges by the hour. So even if there is a techincal snag identified before the take off the airline prefers to get out of Narita somehow and attend to the technical snag when they reach a cheaper destination.

Today I owe it to this airline for still being alive to comment here. The risks that are taken to cut on operational costs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not enough legroom. I know, that is not much compared to the problems of others, but that's all I have.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Surprisingly the worst experience I've ever had was with Lufthansa flying from Paris to Tokyo via Frankfurt. Everything was actually good, the seats, the food, entertainment, etc. The major issue though was that there seemed to be a problem with the cabin pressure where it wasn't pressurized enough, which literally caused everyone to get the most painful headaches for the entire 11 hour flight. Was truly a poor experience

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Small plane banking sharply in a thick cloud, just as turbulence thumped the craft, causing it to fall like a stone several times. I seriously thought we might all die.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not really the airlines fault, but...Small commuter flight experiencing turbulence during meal service. We hit an air pocket and dropped 500 feet in an instant (the pilot told us afterward). One moment we're enjoying our meals, then BAM! they're on the ceiling and running down the sides of the cabin.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Travel internationally nearly every month, the benefits, provided work allows me to purchase on my normal airline, is at least premium economy most times.

Specifically always get aisle seat.. never been asked to move, would get angry as I like to drink tons of water, which means bathroom, and don't want to bother someone getting up all the time.

Overall not too many problems, once a Singapore Airline flight was going to turn back about 30min out then started all these "tests" and decided to continue on.

Worst experience, about 9 or so years ago going back home from Japan, didn't have much money at the time, so Jetstar.. and I will never make that mistake again.

So, on the way over relatively smooth except I got to NZ and my bag did not, however a day later it was delivered, not the end of the world.

However there was a volcano in Chile while I was there.

Several airlines held flights for one day while they found other paths and business as usual... but Jetstar.. no.. cancelled for about 4 days.

Then out to the airport, to be told flight had been cancelled, please line up to rebook, and then back to families place. For 2 days rinse, repeat. (The phone line was constantly busy and useless) 3rd day out to airport, through immigration waiting at the gate looking at the plane that just flew in from Brisbane (connecting flight) they tell us its cancelled again. At this point I was furious.. back through immigration who were like.. "yeah welcome again home ha ha, yeah don't fly Jetstar."

Bag comes out has been badly damaged...

Run to Jetstar counter again, tell them, I need to get back to Japan, having missed a week of work at this stage. Rebook for next day.. Tell them my bag has been damaged to which they reply "How do you know it happened in our care."

Im generally pretty calm but swear words did leave my mouth at this point.

Back to families.

Next day finally fly, finally back in Japan.

However still the damaged bag to deal with, which was series of emails over the next 4, FOUR.. months to get a small amount of money from them.

So that experience taught me, never Jetstar, ("budget" airlines rarely are in the long term) always have good Travel Insurance.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've got a love/hate relationship with AirFrance (much more love than hate). Years ago, they lost my luggage (fair enough; these things happen) and took my return ticket after arriving at Manchester, to get my details. They then handed me someone else's ticket back. Didn't notice till the day before my flight. Neither did the other bloke, who was somewhere in deepest Yorkshire. Still, fair play to the airline who actually dispatched someone on a motorbike to swap our tickets for us, over a hundred miles apart in the countryside.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

On a business trip to Europe last year, my flight back to the airline's hub was cancelled for technical reasons. They immediately got everyone onto a third-party flight to another major hub airport, and promptly onward to my original destination for a (now much curtailed) mini city break.

The next afternoon, en route to Narita, I mentioned my plight to the veteran purser, who locked eyes with me over the rim of her reading glasses.

"What do you want me to do?" she asked. Knowing I was chancing my arm, I paused before replying "What are the options?" She gave me her iPad to input my details, saying that she couldn't guarantee anything, but that my case was in the system.

The upshot: 250 Euros credited to my bank account, validating the old adage "Ask and you shall receive."

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Flew back to Canada this past New Years using Scare Canada, and I will not fly with them again unless I have no choice. Boarding was delayed, and as I was one of the first passengers on the flight I found out why. One of the overhead bins was broken and they were duck taping it closed. Not a good omen for the flight. We finally take off, and just as the safety video is starting, all the monitors go black. They tried resetting the system, but nothing, so they had to scramble to find all of their safety devices, the seat belt, inflatable life vest and did it in person. As I said the whole system was down, and they tried again to reboot it, but nothing, so we lucky travelers in economy got to fly to Toronto without any entertainment. Which was ok, as I always try to sleep as much as I can on the lfight home. But then the turbulence started, and for the first three hours they couldn't serve any drinks or food. Finally after about 4 hours they served us drinks and dinner. Man Air Canada really serves small meals! I was amazed at how little food was in the main dish. We arrived in Toronto late,and I almost missed my connecting flight. On the way way home, not as bad as the first leg, but since I was sitting in a bulk head seat, the tray was in the armrest. But I think someone had sat on it or put something heavy, because it was on such a slant that when the flight attendant put gave me my tray, I had to use on hand to level it, other wise the tray would slide off. Which is exactly what happened when I ordered a white wine, she put it down and it slide right off onto me and the guy beside me.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Borderline obese male flight attendant leaning on my seat while BS'ing with a passenger behind me, waking me up. Northworst. Pretty much every flight is a bad experience the way they've designed the seats where the seat part slides forward creating a gap where your back should rest. Even the premium seats do this. Sure wish I could afford business class. ANA seats are not long enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sitting on a NW plane at Schiphol for 3 hours before taxiing while hearing flight attendants threaten to have anyone questioning the delay thrown off the plane. Then landing in Minneapolis and learning the ongoing flight was delayed for 3 hours. Later learned NW employees were on a work slowdown. NW and United have long been on my no-fly lists, along with several other US based airlines. Another story: in the old days of not too long ago flying on a Greek airline and having my drink served by a flight attendant while she was smoking a cigarette. Which reminds of all flights regardless of distance and carrier in the pre-no smoking days.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is sort of amazing with the planes being so reliable now that the passengers and staff are so unpredictable. If anything I would stack the advantage my way and get as many people I know on that plane trying to make the experience as predictable as possible.

I was on a plane (USA Midwest) where the seats were 2 side by side facing another 2 seats. Flight was good but one passenger (40's business woman) wanted to make everyone's life miserable. So it was an annoying 2 hr flight with every minute of her life being the most precious and precarious. You would think better seats would help -but it really does not and depends on the people in the seats.

With all the pat downs, body scans, limits on what you can take (shampoo, lotion etc) commercial flying has become miserable now and some people take great joy in that misery. = No thanks. Flying private has little of these problems.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Malaysia Airlines: Asked what I wanted to eat and picked the beef but was told by the staff "And what about the other passengers sir" - My reply was "I dont care about them"......On the same flight, the aircraft roof was taped up with duct tape. Never flew them again.

To Guam with Continental: Got to Narita and an American staff lady at check in called "he's here". Japanese Guard looked embarrassed when searching my stuff. Got to the gate AND The same lady was there and once again called "He's here". Got pretty angry so asked what's wrong AND she said "Why are you going to Guam?' - told her "For a holiday of course". Big mistake as I was stripped searched in view of the cabin door standing next to a Japanese lady (who was down to her bras and about 70). I will never fly that crap airline again

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not the fault of the airline, but having a bulkhead seat with a couple next to me eating BurgerKing hamburgers and fried onion rings they'd brought on board.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Flying from Tokyo to NYC with a layover in Chicago, the connecting flight was cancelled due to a big snowstorm in the midwest. It took 9 hours of running from gate to gate to finally get off the waiting list and onto a flight. When they did have spots for us on a flight, they literally yelled at us over the PA to run from our seats to the gate because the plane was waiting. To top it off, the "premium" seats (exit row, etc.) that we had paid money to reserve were lost on that flight, AND on our multiple flights on the way back to Japan. In the end, it took hours on the phone with airline representatives to get back the hundreds of dollars we spent on those premium seats that disappeared.

Here's the shocker: it was United!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I preordered a Muslim meal, and when it came, all these people wanted to know if I was a Muslim. My response was that this is the best way to get some good salmon cooked and sashimi at the same time.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

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