What's The Worst Thing You've Ever Seen While Flying?

Terrible, sad, snowy weather does in fact count.
Terrible, sad, snowy weather does in fact count.
Photo: Rebecca Butala How (Getty)
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Anyone who travels by air enough likely has a very specific set of pet peeves based on all the terrible things they’ve experienced while flying—but there are some things that go totally above and beyond small annoyances. You know, those things that you just cannot believe someone actually did, those things that leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a vague feeling of horror at the human condition.


We’re approaching the holiday season when it feels like the truly worst people crawl out of the woodwork. And that means it’s time to commiserate.

I want the worst of the worst. This goes beyond the people who recline their seat against your already-squished knees, beyond the terrible humans who wander around in their stinky socked feet.

I’ve actually written about mine before: the time I was significantly delayed because multiple terrible people just could not sit the fuck down while we were on the runway scheduled to depart. It was the most horrifying display of entitlement I’ve ever seen and I have unfortunately subjected myself to watching reality TV shows before.

There was also the time that I missed my connecting flight because then-presidential candidate Donald Trump decided to fly out of the New Hampshire airport in his private jet and took his sweet goddamn time with it, resulting in me trying to negotiate a seat on a flight back to Austin for the next 32 hours—which meant I got home two hours before I was set to drive with my Formula SAE team up to Lincoln, Nebraska for competition. I was so exhausted I forgot to pack a single shirt and had to embarrass myself in the team group chat asking for someone to please give me something to wear.

And I feel like these are mild compared to the things that some people have experienced.

So, lay ‘em on me. I want your horror stories.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.


Person next to me pulls out a whole avocado from his bag; bites into it and tears a ~1" hole in the outer skin (spits/discards skin somewhere); then proceeds to eat the entire avocado by a combination of squeezing and sucking the insides out through this hole. This is in the first 15 minutes of a 5 hour flight.