Some stories you wouldn’t believe even if you saw them with your own eyes. Our expert flight attendants have some, dare I say, outrageous stories to share.
These four flight attendants have experienced a lot in their combined century of working for the airlines. Plus they have written a variety of articles for us on everything from what to pack in your carry on to how to overcome your fear of flying to their sweetest stories from the air. But buckle up — these high-flying tales will you scratch your head and say, “Huh?” Some might make you cringe.
All sorts of life events happen while flying. Kentrell Charles has seen everything from wedding proposals to reunions. But one of the most interesting events was a mile-high divorce.
“The husband had it all planned out. We were on a flight from the U.S. to London. The husband and wife boarded the plane for the long flight, sat next to each other and, frankly, looked like a pretty typical couple. The husband arranged for a ‘vacation’ with his wife. But unbeknownst to her, this would turn into a solo travel adventure.
“When we were a few hours from landing, the husband served her the divorce papers, right there in the seat like he was passing down an inflight beverage! She immediately went into hysterics, and rightfully so.
“When I asked him why he did it this way, he said this was the only way she couldn’t run away. She had to open it. The next few hours were a little touch and go. Once we landed, he went straight to customs to get back on the next plane back to the states.
“I’m not sure if the wife went through with the vacation or flew back home as well. Sad and strange event I’ve, thankfully, only experienced once.”
Push Or Pull
This one Kentrell has experienced several times and it still makes his eyes roll.
“It happened so many times I lost count. If you’ve ever used the restroom on a plane, you may have had trouble opening the door, which says ‘PUSH.’ However, the folks in question always try to pull.
“It typically plays out like this:
Passenger: How do I open the door?
Me: Just push it open.
Passenger: It’s stuck.
Me: That’s because you are pulling the door, not pushing it.
Passenger: Where do I push?
Me: You push where it says ‘push.’
“At this point, the passengers are still confused, so I walk over and simply push the door for them. This might be a helpful hint for the next time you fly with a first-time passenger!”
She Don’t Talk Much
This one is a doozie! Flight attendant Lara Ketterman explains what happened when a passenger’s “girlfriend” didn’t have a passport.
“My friend Monique is a Phoenix gate agent, and she has seen it all! One day Monique was working a Costa Rica flight when I stopped to say hello. She said to check out the wheelchair passenger. I looked over, and there was a life-size mannequin, completely dressed with makeup and a wig, sitting in the wheelchair. I looked at Monique.
“She explained that a passenger was bringing his girlfriend to Costa Rica and that is her, in the wheelchair. She has a ticket, and her name is ‘She Don’t Talk Much.’ The passenger, ‘Mr. Smith,’ was excitedly on his phone because Monique clarified that each passenger to Costa Rica had to have a valid passport and apparently She Don’t Talk Much did not hold a passport.
“Mr. Smith was very upset because he had taken his girlfriend with him on many vacations and did not realize she needed a valid passport to travel internationally. He now needed someone to come get his girlfriend, since she could not travel with him. Mr. Smith approached Monique and asked if she could hold the flight because someone was going to get She Don’t Talk Much.
“Monique replied, ‘We cannot hold the flight, but if you hurry, it may work out.’ We watched him zoom away with the wheelchair, but he was back by the end of boarding, all sweaty and disheveled yelling that he made it! We just hoped he didn’t leave the poor girl in the wheelchair downstairs all by herself!”
Heather Earl frequently worked on the L10-11 when she started out. This is where she had to redirect a passenger from the closet to the restroom.
“The L10-11 aircraft was a huge beast of a plane to work on. Flight crews lovingly dubbed it the Hell Ten Eleven. It is a behemoth of a plane, and as a junior flight attendant, I found myself assigned to work it regularly.
“It was known for having a myriad of mechanical problems, and you could always expect a mechanical delay to upend your schedule and put all the passengers in a bad mood. This was back in the day when we could serve alcohol a bit more freely than now. It was standard to serve the cabin a round or two of drinks to placate them for undue time on the ground.
“The front cabin of the L10-11 has a big closet with two double doors that swing out. This closet is in the vicinity of the lavatory. I was working a flight and had a substantial ground delay, so the passengers were getting restless and roaming around the large two-aisle aircraft like it was a cocktail party on a yacht. I felt like I was trying to corral a herd of cats, shooing everyone back to their seats.
“As I stepped into the front cabin galley, a male passenger had pulled open the closed door, dropped his pants, and was just about to relieve himself on all the first-class passengers hanging coats when a guttural sound emerged from my body. He turned toward me with his pants around his ankles, and I just pointed to the lavatory. He shuffled toward where I was pointing, despite his pants limiting his stride, but successfully opened the lavatory door just in time.”
Nancy Lee still wonders how this “gift” made it through security.
“I was a very junior Atlanta-based flight attendant during the early ’80s. I worked a flight where an American couple were headed to France to visit some German friends. As luck would have it, they were again on my flight back to the states. As a carry-on, they brought a large elk head onto the plane. First of all, how the heck did they get that thing through security? To this day, I still don’t have the answer to that question.
“I had to ask them why they were bringing back such a unique souvenir. They said it was a gift given to them by their friends when they were dropped off at the airport. The couple asked me if they could just strap the head in the seats next to them. Yes, in those days, there were empty seats. I told them ‘no, those antlers were made to kill things.’ [The] L10-11, the plane we were on, did have a closet long enough to fit a giant elk head. So everyone was happy. However, I still think their friends did this as a joke.”