Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

If you're encountering your own nightmarish travel situation this Thanksgiving, take solace in the fact that you're probably not as bad off as these people were.


10.) Three Hour Round Trip From Austin To Houston

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

It takes about 2.5 hours to get from Austin to Houston. Reader, PatBateman had to make a round trip in three for a highly important reason:

"I once had to make a world record run from Austin to Houston and back on Christmas Eve night because I forgot presents for the kids at home. Either the State Troopers along IH-10 and 71 were all off for the night or they all had the Christmas spirit and didn't pull me over."

Suggested By: PatBateman, Photo Credit: Getty Images

9.) "I Blame Auntie Anne's"

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

Those warm, cinnamon sugar pretzels may be tempting, but may cause more harm than good, as Mergatroy6 found out:

"I took my kids to Disney World to celebrate their 1st and 4th birthdays. We booked a 4pm flight out of LGA figuring that we would arrive at Orlando and be checked into our Disney resort by 8:30.

The weather was beautiful but our flight was delayed and didn't take off until around 9pm. The kids were well behaved and the 4 year old was placated with Netflix and Auntie Anne pretzels in the terminal. Once on-board the kids fell sound asleep and all was well.

As we start to descend my 4 year old starts to stir. He is clearly out of it so my wife takes him to the bathroom. He pees and splashes some water on his face. As he walks back down the aisle, one of the flight attendants hands him a can of that San Pellegrino orange juice. 5 minutes later, while the 1 year old is asleep on my lap, my 4 year old is sitting slouched in his seat, half asleep, and proceeds to empty the entire contents of his stomach all over his sweatshirt, teddy bear and parts of my lap. He gets rushed to the bathroom and comes out in his slightly stained jeans and with a blanket draped over his bare torso. My family, and the entire plane, had to endure the next 15 minutes with the overpowering smell of vomit.

Once we land and get to the terminal, we find out that Disney's Magic Express has ceased luggage operations for the day. A small blessing because getting our own luggage means I can get some clean clothes for my son. I ditch the bag of vomit covered clothing, and one dearly loved teddy bear, in a trash can near the baggage carousel. Once the luggage arrives I change my son into a pair of shorts and a new shirt. Now we head over to the Magic Express bus so we can head to the resort. We sit on the bus for at least an hour and despite all the sink bathing and fresh clothes you can still smell a hint of vomit in the air. I was embarassed but at the same time I wasn't. Kids throw up and we did the best we could.

We get to the resort. It is now close to 1am. Check-in takes another hour. So much for being in our rooms by 8:30. I blame Auntie Anne's for the vomit since we had no issues for the rest of the trip."


Suggested By: Mergatroy6, Photo Credit: Krista

8.) 23 Hour Drive From Detroit To Kentucky

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

It was a long drive, but at least Bad72AMX did it for love!

"This past year, I had to be in Detroit for work the weeks before and after Valentines day. For various reasons, I hadn't spent Valentines with the lady in a few years so I really wanted to make it home even though the few others that had to attend both weeks stayed. I was able to leave on V-day around noon and I'd have to drive back Sunday to be there by 9 Monday. (I live in KY, which is a 6 hour drive on the best of days and I'm required to drive).

The day arrives, and I leave Detroit to cool temps and clear skies. By the time I hit the Ohio line, that changed to blowing and drifting snow and 30mph traffic. By 5 I was parked north of Dayton, which is about half way.

Around 7, I got moving again but conditions were getting worse and worse and I was witnessing accidents happen every few minutes. I should probably also mention that I drive a 2WD Ram, so it isn't the most ideal winter ride. It was almost 9 by the time I reached Cincinnati and temps had plummeted into the single digits and road crews had given up.

The roads got worse and worse, and I still hadn't reached the rolling hills of KY. Once I do, I realize that A. the roads in Ohio were great compared to these and B. There is no one else left on the road except idiots in lifted trucks driving like it was a light drizzle. I also found out from local weather that KY received hours of freezing rain before the snow came, which explained the terrible conditions. Around Sparta, the need to maintain speed to climb hills of ice was making the drive very hairy.

Despite my best efforts, I still slid off into a median and took 20+ minutes to get myself unstuck. Of course, it was now nearing 11 and I had to get off the road. Luckily, the Red Roof Inn at the race track had one room left (a VIP suite) and was packed with stranded travelers. Unluckily, it was on the fifth floor and the elevator was broken, but that was a small hassle in the scheme of things.

I had a few beers and a sandwich at the bar to calm my nerves and frustration and got a little sleep. The next morning I got up planning on salvaging my short weekend and hit the road by 9. The roads were clear and clean, until I hit traffic within 5 miles. There was an accident with an SUV, a plow truck, and a sign post, which was now blocking all lanes of traffic.

After another hour or more parked, they finally cleared it and I was back running. I finally pulled in my driveway 23 hours after I left and 23 hours before I'd have to turn around and make the drive back."


Suggested By: Bad72AMX, Photo Credit: Getty Images

7.) Sat In Cat Shit

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

This story from MBolanos just get worse and worse. A veritable shit show. Literally:

"1996: I was only 10, and my dad was a diplomat so we were living in Miami.

We decide to fly home (Costa Rica) to visit our family for the holidays because we hadn't seen everyone in a year and a half. We flew the now defunct "Aero Costa Rica" airline which used leased A320s from Air Jamaica of all things.

Costa Rica should have been in the middle of its quite pleasant dry season (which we are enjoying right now, the view outside my office is unbelievable right now). Well, this "dry" season wasn't so dry and a massive thunder and rainstorm was covering the whole country.

As the tiny A320 (half painted in Aero Costa Rica colors, the other half still had the Air Jamaica livery) started approaching CR airspace the shaking began. Nothing unusual, you have to fly over the mountain range to get in here so shaking is expected. Out of the blue the plane starts BOUNCING up and down. The captain comes in over the PA and tells everyone to sit the fuck down, NOW!

We sit through 20 minutes of this mayhem, dropping and climbing hundreds of feet at a time, the engines clearly at 100 percent and the biggest rain drops hitting the windows. The captain announces that the Costa Rican airport is closed, and we were being diverted to San Andrés (a Colombian island about 45 minutes away). Somehow we survive the most expensive airborne roller coaster on earth and land in San Andrés.

We are allowed to deplane after about an hour, but the airport was closed after 8pm. We were expected to only hang out on the tarmac (it was the 90s, simpler times and lax security). During this time, some woman who had managed to slip her cat on the plane without anybody noticing lets it loose to stretch its legs. The thing bolts all around the cabin, leaves the plane through the staircase and vanishes into the dark (the cat was lost, nobody could see anything).

We get news from Costa Rica that the storm had sorta cleared and if the pilot was daring he could land, so they load us up into the plane QUICKLY.

That's when my dad sits in cat shit.

This released the most wretched smell ever. I can still remember the flight attendants emptying Glade cans up and down the cabin.

We take off in the most violent take off I have ever experienced (first time I actually felt a plane going quickly), go through THE worst and most shaken approach possible, and finally land 45 minutes later.

I had to sit next to my dad smelling like cat shit through all of this."

Suggested By: MBolanos, Photo Credit: Aero Icarus

6.) Bad Planning

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

Traveling with young kids for the holidays? Don't cut corners planning like MonkeyPuzzle did:

"Traveling with my wife and two kids under the age of 2. I usually pack an extra set of clothes in my carry-on so in the event my luggage doesn't turn up, I'm all good, but I used my carry on space to accommodate diapers and such.

The youngest had a diaper blowout. I knelt in diarrhea and had to "wash" my jeans in that tiny airplane sink where one hand has to hold the water on while the other hand contorted the wash the jeans in the fraction of an inch of clearance below the water spout.

Got to Sydney (already having traveled 18 hours from Denver) and found we were too early to check in, having not booked it as one continuous trip to save money. So we were forced to sit on the boring side of security screening. No places to eat, too much luggage to easily go anywhere, and no really good place to even sit an entertain children.

Cut some corners in the planning, paid the price in the end."

Suggested By: MonkeyPuzzle, Photo Credit: eyeliam

5.) "Never Going International Again"

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

Newark suddenly doesn't seem so bad after you read JeepersCreepers' story:

"My wife and I went on our honeymoon over Thanksgiving. We travelled to the lovely country of The Dominican Republic. While our stay there was nice, getting home would be a different story.

We were told right away when we got there that we should get to the airport 5 hours before our scheduled flight as the airport is a little shady and that the people who work the ticket counters also work the gates, so if you got there late no one would be at the counters. We scheduled our bus to pick us up 5 hours early. Unfortunately come time to leave, our van (it was suppose to be a bus...) was just a bit late, by an hour.

Already freaking, we hopped into it and was told that we had 4 other people to pick up along the way. We get to the airport about 2.5 hours early to see a line going out the doors. So we wait in line for about 45 minutes and get to the ticket booth... only to find out we needed to get into another line to check baggage... Also, while we have tickets to get to Atlanta, we did not receive tickets to our final destination as the flight was cancelled and this ticket person had no clue what to do. Wife is freaking.

After another 45 minute wait to check baggage we run to security. Now normal airports have monitors all over the place to tell you if your plane is on time and at what gate. Not this one. So we have no clue what is going on, all we know is we are standing in a line that looks about 45 minutes long.

A man from the airport comes up to us and says he can get us past security if we pay him a sum... I don't bite. Seems sketchy and this whole country reeked of it. I take a gamble and stay in line, only to find that when we get to the front of the 45 minute line, it snakes around and is just filled with hundreds of people. Wife is pulling her hair out.

No idea what is going on we get through security only to have to go wait in another line for customs... Through customs we run to the gate, and there is no plane. We were 45 minutes late. Line at the counter was Black Friday long of whining people. I take my customary place in line and learn from the man next to me that lo and behold, the plane never came.

TWO flights from Atlanta were delayed. 600 people are delayed out of the Dominican by two hours, and nobody was making their connecting flight. We flew to Atlanta, got stuck in a hotel and flew home the next morning. Never going international again."


Suggested By: JeepersCreepers, Photo Credit: Getty Images

4.) "Only Way They Get Me Off This Plane Is By Dragging My Cold, Dead Body Off"

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

Geph_knows_best calls this the "return trip from hell." That's not hyperbole:

"Do you remember the 'underwear' bomber from Christmas Day, 2009? I sure as shit do.....stick with it to the end, it's a good read.

We were in Paris for the holidays staying with friends who were doing missionary work in France. We flew from Indianapolis to Paris Christmas Day and planned to fly back home New Years Day. Long story slightly short....

All flights going back into the US from Europe the two weeks following the Christmas Day incident were a complete nightmare. Most of the airlines restricted check-in times, meaning you had to be checked in at least 2 hours before the flight was scheduled to leave, or you didn't board, period, no exceptions. They did this because the FAA asked them to basically screen every single bag, checked and unchecked.

Every bag we carried on was completely opened, turned out on a table, rifled through and then they asked you to pack it back up. I witnessed them dump a 6 year old boy's superhero backpack onto a table, and then just casually move on as his parents helped him pack his toys back up.

We missed our check-in time by 4 minutes because the airport shuttle trains were behind that day... Our scheduled 10am flight, didn't leave until 2:30 that day...we watched it taxi off from the terminal as we waited for our 2:00pm flight that we had to pay $500 to get on. It didn't leave until after 10pm.

The first plane we got on had issues with the de-icers on the wings, so after an hour they made us get off. Then we were driven on a bus to a second plane, when the buses pulled up, the plane didn't have power. Thirty minutes standing on a cramped bus, still no power so they drove us back to the terminal. We got back on the same plane that had the de-icing issues, apparently all fixed now, so we board. We push back and get in line to take off!!

Then we turn around and start taxing back to the warnings again. It's 6pm now. I can see the innards of the planes right wing just hanging out as they work on it... At about 8pm they make us get off and say we are going to have to wait for a new plane to fly in, BUT, they are going to feed us in the terminal!

We've now been stuck behind the secure line of the airport for about 8 hours with no food except crackers and Sprite, which they gave us on the plane. They have sandwiches which look like they came from a vending machine, and they are pouring coke products into paper cups, because they aren't allowed to give us the aluminum cans; at that point I don't blame them...making a shiv from the can to attack the flight crew was probably on a lot of peoples minds. We board the new plane at around 9:30pm, settle into our seats, finally, we're going to be gone.

But wait! They loaded the lunch menu into the planes galley and now they have to swap it for the dinner menu. On top of that, the pilots and crew have now been working for more than 8 hours and they have to get a new flight crew to replace them! We take off from Charles De'Gaulle at 10:30pm on route to Boston, which as we would learn about an hour before we land, is expirencing Blizzard conditions. In the last few hours, both my wife and I begin to feel ill, it's obvious we caught something walking around Paris for a week in the cold. We land in Boston, AirFrance puts us into a hotel, we are schedules on a flight to Indy they next day.

They next day we're both very ill, running temperatures above 100 but at this point, nothing is keeping us off that plane. It's a small regional plane that we board with only about 20 rows of 3. About half the flight is service men & women returning to Camp Atterbury south of Indianapolis. We get seated, doors close, almost home... Then there's a weird noise outside, someone's knocking on the door of the plane. The flight crew opens the door and an agent from the airline gets on...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, due to the conditions on the runway, weight restrictions have been implemented for take-off and we are too heavy. In order to take off, we are going to need approximately 15 people to voluntarily get off the plane." %$@!*&

I turned to my wife, 'Only way they get me off this plane is by dragging my cold, dead body off...'

The service men & women can't get off, military order, but thankfully they promise about a dozen people flying to Minneapolis a direct flight that will get there home sooner if they get off. We take off, land in Indy, and my wife and I spend the next 4 days in bed recovering from the return trip from hell."


Suggested By: Geph_knows_best, Photo Credit: Getty Images

3.) Mazda RX-8 – Not A Great Winter Car

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

Mazda RX-8s are great for many things! Driving in winter, however, isn't one of them as DJHerbert discovered

"I suffered through 5 upper-midwest winters in my 2004 Mazda RX-8 (similar to pic). All of them were terrible, but the worst was in 2007. I drove from Iowa to Wisconsin to see my parents for Christmas.

I happened to leave my house right before the worst ice storm in recorded history happened to crop up right along Highway 151, which was the exact route I was taking. When I left my house, things were clear. I made it about 15 miles, and all of a sudden the storm hit. Not 2 minutes later, I found myself going backwards into oncoming traffic. Not good! So I intentionally put my car in the ditch so as not to kill myself or others.

Unfortunately I could not get back out. I stood by the side of the road, and thankfully a good samaritan with a tow cable on his truck stopped and helped me out and got me back on the road (took about an hour, remember, there is a freaking ice-blizzard going on at the time).

So I got back on the road, and, being a complete fool, instead of turning back and going home, I continued on my journey. I made it another 15 miles or so, then spun out again, though this time I stayed on the road. I continued on, creeping along at about 15-20 miles per hour (even that was extremely scary), and spun out again a few minutes later.

Finally realized that I would kill myself if I continued, I admitted defeat and stopped at the first hotel I could find, a Super 8 in Anamosa, IA. Not the worst hotel, and the 1 room they had left when I got there also happened to be the biggest. It smelled awful, but I took it.

By this point I had been on the road for about 6 hours (for what would usually take less than 1) and was freezing and hungry, so I went out to look for food. The only restaurants in town had just shut down because of the ice storm. I managed to get a couple of cookies out of the vending machine and attempted to get some sleep.

Then, at about midnight, the fucking power goes out! And it's out ALL NIGHT. NO HEAT. It got down below freezing in my hotel room, I was curled up under every blanked I could find and still couldn't get warm enough to get any sleep. I considered going out to sit in my car with the heat on, but the raging ice storm convinced me otherwise.

The hotel provided a bit of luke-warm 'hot chocolate' at about 4am, but that didn't help much. Day broke, and I got the heck out of there. I was extremely hungry and decided to try the Hardees across the street. I barely survived the trip over there, ate my breakfast, and then could not make it back out of the damn parking lot! I was really hating my RX-8 at that point.

After about an hour of trying I made it out, and got back on the road. I toodled along at 15 mph, and on my way to Dubuque I called my Mom (who lives in Madison) to have her come meet me in Dubuque (with her SUV) and pick me up and bring me the rest of the way.

Incredibly, we got to Dubuque at the same time, but I was unable to get off of the highway because the stupid plows had piled up snow over the exits! My RX-8 was unable to scale the massive (6" piles) so I had to keep going. My Mom managed to turn around and followed me the rest of the way.

Eventually, late that night, I made it to Madison. What would normally be a 3 hour trip took nearly a day and a half. All thanks to my light-weight rear-wheel-drive piece of shit Mazda RX-8. God I miss that car."


Suggested By: DJHerbert, Photo Credit: Taber Andrew Bain

2.) Missed Thanksgiving Dinner

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

Don't read Steven's story if you're weak of stomach:

"Thanksgiving 2007. My parents and I were set to meet my brother, his wife, and her family in Glenwood Springs, CO. I leave Tuesday evening from Midland, Tx and make it to Roswell, NM where I slept in the back seat of my crew cab F150 in a truck stop.

Thought I would be warm enough to not run the truck. Woke up 5 am freezing. Started the truck and tried to get some warm sleep. Gave up and trucked on to Albuquerque to meet with someone for business. Hoped on I25 towards Denver. Made great time other than getting lost in Downtown Santa Fe by accident trying to get back to the interstate after lunch.

Rest of the trip is a breeze until I hit the ski areas on I70. They water down windshield washer fluid in west Texas. I go wash off road grime to find it was frozen. Smeared grease all over the windshield. Could barely see. Stop in Dillon to clean windshield and try to get the system working again. Which I was able to. Enter Glenwood canyon. Probably 8ish.

Now enter what, I will never know the real cause of, the sickest I've ever been in my life. If you've ever driven I70 through Glenwood canyon, you will agree with me that there is no shoulder to pull off on. It is a stacked highway. Luckily my loving mother packed me a goodie bag for me to snack on while I made my trip separately from them.

Quickly empty the bag and proceed to empty my stomach into said bag, also crapping my pants a little, while still maintaining about 45 mph over the next 7 miles til I got to the one rest stop. Skedaddle (technical term for having just, or about to crap your pants. You know the awkward walk/run you do) inside with clean underwear to finish throwing up empty my guts from the other end.

Clean up and make it to Glenwood springs where I didn't leave the room or reply bathroom for 2 more days. I missed the awesome thanksgiving dinner sitting on the toilet with a trash can in front of me. Worst holiday trip ever."


Suggested By: Steven, Photo Credit: Denise Mattox

1.) Made It To Class...Four Days Late

Illustration for article titled The Ten Worst Holiday Travel Nightmares

All I can say is that I hope reader xt5280 has some understanding teachers:

"Freshmen year of college, I was in Indonesia visiting my parents during the holiday break. On my return trip to get back for classes starting on Monday, I flew from Jakarta to Taipei, but then found out upon arrival in Taipei that I was actually wait-listed on the second leg of my trip from there to San Francisco.

Turned out that due to Chinese New Year and heavy travel plans from there to the US, the next open seat on a flight to SF was 2 WEEKS away. Over the course of the next few hours, and then again the next day, I spent countless hours working with a China Airlines ticket desk employee... Keep in mind this was before the days of widespread smartphone use, so there was no magic computer in my pocket to use to get it all figured out.

They were very helpful, but the language barrier was brutal, so through ultra-broken English, writing down flight times and prices (since I'd have to pay any difference in ticket cost), I learned that the next open seat to fly anywhere in the US was a direct flight to New York, in 2 and a half days... Mind you, by this time it was already Sunday, and classes started on Monday.

I luckily was able to get in touch with a family friend who lived in Taipei, so after sitting for 2 nights and 2 days in the airport ticket hall, I was able to get a cab to their place to stay the night, shower, eat, and then return bright and early the next day for my flight to NY. Fortunately I was able to email my uncle from our friends house to let him know I was going to be arriving at some awful hour, but he was able to pick me up thankfully.

That flight was 14 hours. Arrived in New York, and my uncle was kind enough to pick me up so I could stay with his family that night on Long Island. Upon arriving there, I then searched for and booked flights to get me back to Oregon... In theory this was going to be, NY-Dallas-Portland-Eugene.

First leg of the flight the next morning was fine, arrived in Dallas, but then iced over runways in Portland cancelled our flight, so I changed flights to Seattle, then from there to Eugene, it was too foggy to land in Eugene, so that flight was cancelled. That night, I slept on the floor of Seattle's airport until our rescheduled flight took off the next morning and eventually I made it back to my apartment.

Finally arrived home on THURSDAY, and made it in to one of my classes a little late... you know, like 4 days late."


Suggested By: xt5280, Photo Credit: Getty Images

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!


Top Photo Credit: Getty Images

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