The 25 Wildest Airplane Stories of 2017 Gallery
The 25 Wildest Airplane Stories of 2017
Tens of thousands of feet in the air, in an enclosed space full of people who are often nervous, tired, and sometimes even drunk, flights can get wild. Amid all the controversy in travel this year, some moments in air travel made headlines purely because they were just so strange.
Perhaps humans are just not meant to be in the air, particularly for long. While some passengers merely got kicked off of flights for throwing tantrums over being denied more Champagne, others became violent and dangerous. Some travelers got a little too frisky, creating some really awkward moments for their fellow passengers, whereas others caused heartwarming moments by giving the gift of life midair. A few nerve-wracking episodes occurred with plane malfunctions or mishaps that, luckily, ended up with everyone okay, if a little traumatized. The year 2017 had some absolutely terrifying airplane moments, as well as some that were just shocking or downright hilarious. For stories that you just might not believe, check out the 25 wildest airplane stories of 2017.
Baby Boy Born Midair on India Flight
On June 18, a Jet Airways flight bound for Kochi, India, from Dammam, Saudi Arabia, was forced to divert to Mumbai after another passenger arrived on board midflight. A 29-year-old woman, identified as “Mrs C. Jose” by the Deccan Chronicle, began to feel unwell and was unable to sit within two hours of takeoff. A paramedic on board answered the crew’s call for a doctor, and a healthy baby boy was delivered with the help of flight crew members within six to eight minutes, despite being premature. According to the Deccan Chronicle, Jose felt that her son was “special” and attributed his safe arrival to the actions of the crew members, thus giving her son the name Jetson. In return, baby Jetson received a lifetime travel pass for free flights with the airline.
Baby Boy Born Midair on Spirit Airlines
Just a few days after the birth on Jet Airways, another baby boy received free lifetime travel when he arrived on Spirit Airlines Flight 971 bound for Dallas from Fort Lauderdale. Cristina Penton, who was 36 weeks pregnant and accompanied by her children ages 11 and 12, started feeling unwell shortly after takeoff and informed the flight crew. They made her comfortable and provided her with water, which Spirit usually charges for. A pediatrician and a nurse were luckily on board and attended to her as she began to have contractions. Although repeatedly told to not push, Penton told CNN that her water broke and after three pushes, her son Christoph Carston Lezcano was born at 7 pounds and 19.5 inches long. The flight was then diverted to New Orleans. While midflight births are rare, cabin crew members are trained to handle medical emergencies, and a Spirit spokesman told CNN that the flight attendants were communicating inflight with doctors on the ground as well. Though born a month early, the baby had no complications. While the airlines offered them a free flight home to Phoenix, the family had to drive, as the baby was too young for immunizations. For his part, Christoph will be given a free Spirit Airlines flight every year on his birthday for both himself and a guest.
Baby Girl Born Midair on Pakistan Flight
Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK 716 saw the unexpected arrival of an additional passenger on December 12 when a woman gave birth on a flight from Madinah, Saudi Arabia, to Multan, Pakistan. Due to weather conditions in Multan, the flight was diverted to Karachi, where both mother and baby were given a medical examination before being cleared to travel to Multan. According to The Express Tribune, the airline said that the birth was premature and that the passenger “did not appear to be full-term” as she boarded the flight.
Engine Catches Fire Upon Landing
The left engine of a United Express jet caught fire shortly after landing at Denver International Airport from Aspen back in July. Although no one was injured, the terrifying images quickly made the rounds on social media. First responders put out the fire on the plane, which was being flown by SkyWest Airlines.
Fight Breaks Out on Plane After Landing
Not long after a Southwest Airlines flight had arrived at Hollywood Burbank Airport from Dallas on May 7, a fight broke out between two men as passengers got off the plane. A video taken by witnesses shows a woman trying to pull one of the men off of another man, whom she had been traveling with. A Southwest cabin crew member can also be seen attempting to intervene when one of the men suddenly picks up the other, causing them both to fall onto the woman and crew member. The fight continued until other passengers successfully restrained both men, one of whom was later arrested for assault and battery, according to Burbank Police, who also added that one person involved was injured but turned down medical treatment.
Fight Breaks Out on Plane Before Takeoff
An All Nippon Airways flight saw conflict before it had even taken off, just a week before the Southwest flight, when it was waiting for takeoff from Narita, Japan, to Los Angeles. A witness told CBS Los Angeles that they saw men in an apparently heated argument when one pointed at the other and asked “Where are you from?” before telling him “I’ll kill you.” The man who made the threat apparently began shoving and hitting his fellow passenger, who began to fight back. A video captured by the witness shows a flight attendant attempted to intervene and separate the two men as they exchanged blows, and the witness says that when he also got involved, the man who started the fight finally stopped and left the plane. ANA made a public statement in which they said that the man also attempted to assault a gate agent as he left the plane before he was finally arrested by police.
Flight Attendant Breaks Wine Bottle Over Passenger’s Head
A Delta flight flying from Seattle to Beijing on July 6 had to re-route itself back to Seattle when a passenger suddenly began lunging toward the exit door and attempting to open it at 32,000 feet. Cabin crew members attempted to restrain him, getting punched by the passenger in the process. A flight attendant hit the man over the head with two wine bottles, one of which broke, but the effort failed to stop him. The man continued to fight the crew until landing, upon which he was arrested by police.
Flight Attendant Hits Woman With a Stroller
An American Airlines flight flying from San Francisco to Dallas was getting ready for takeoff on April 21 when a flight attendant took a stroller from a passenger and hit her in the head with it, just missing the baby she was carrying. A video taken right after the incident shows the woman with her child in her arms, crying and asking the cabin crew for her stroller. The video also shows another passenger confronting a cabin crew member and asking the name of the man and if he was an employee, and another passenger saying that “he smacked her in the face with the stroller.” When the employee in question returns to the cabin, the video shows the first passenger confronting him before crew members separate the two. A public statement made by American Airlines stated that the incident began when the mother tried to bring a stroller onto the plane that was too big. The flight attendant who hit her was suspended by the airline, which also apologized to the passenger and other customers affected. The passenger and her family were upgraded to first class on another flight, and she was also given a $1,000 voucher, according to CBS News.
Flight Turbulence Injures 30 Passengers
In one of the scariest airplane moments of the year, severe turbulence caused injuries to 30 passengers of a flight going from Moscow to Bangkok. During its approach to Suvarnabhumi Airport on May 2, the Aeroflot aircraft hit an air hole, an area of low air pressure in which planes can sometimes drop. Of those injured, 27 were hospitalized, with some passengers suffering serious fractures and bruising. Witnesses told CNN that passengers were thrown out of their seats and reported broken noses and limbs as well as blood on the ceiling of the aircraft, all of which was corroborated with photos and video taken by passengers.
Kentucky Doctor Forcibly Removed for Refusing to Give Up His Seat
One of the biggest travel controversies of the year occurred on April 9, when a Kentucky doctor was violently removed from United Express Flight 3411 after he refused to give up his seat. Social media lit up with video and images of David Dao, an American of Vietnamese-Chinese background, being literally dragged off the plane by O’Hare International Airport police. The situation started when passengers were offered travel vouchers in exchange for giving up their seats for four airline employees. When none accepted, four were selected at random, one of whom was Dao. When Dao refused, airport police pulled him out of his seat screaming, causing him to hit his face on an armrest. The officers then dragged Dao, apparently unconscious and on his back, by his arms down the aisle of the plane, and he was seen later with blood around his mouth as well. To make matters worse, United CEO Oscar Munoz issued a public statement justifying the ordeal and also sent out an email to United employees praising the actions of the crew and condemning Dao as “belligerent.” The mishap resulted in another statement, this time apologetic, and Munoz’s denial of a previously planned promotion to chairman. On April 27, Dao reached a settlement with United on undisclosed terms.
Passenger Assaults Flight Crew and Bites Fellow Passenger
In November, a passenger on a Thomas Cook flight from Manchester, England, to Egypt became violent during the flight’s landing. After the 39-year-old woman threatened to “rip the head off” a flight attendant, punched another, and then bit a fellow passenger who attempted to restrain her, a bottle of gin was found “nearly” empty under her seat — just another example of why bringing your own alcohol on board is illegal. Upon landing, ground crew and police arrived on the scene, and the woman was taken for a 24-hour hold at a hospital. The woman was banned from her return flight but avoided a jail sentence, as her lawyer argued her behavior was the result of a “psychotic episode” stemming from medication and excessive drinking, including multiple drinks before and during the flight, according to The Mirror. She was given a six-month sentence, suspended for twelve, and ordered to attend an alcoholics program.
Passenger Forces Plane to Return to Houston
A passenger on United Airlines Flight 898 caused the New Orleans-bound plane to turn back around to Houston due to her disruptive behavior. About 25 minutes into the 45-minute journey, a woman in the back row of the aircraft apparently began hitting the wall and yelling “We are all protected and loved! We are all protected and loved! This plane is going to land beautifully and kindly!” a witness told ABC 13 Eyewitness News. She then made a run for the cockpit, but was thwarted by five other passengers who tackled her to the ground. The passengers then tied the woman’s wrists using zip-tie handcuffs given to them by cabin crew members and held her down until the flight returned to Houston. Police were able to escort the woman off the plane, and the flight resumed its journey back to its destination.
Passenger Threatens to Blow Up Plane
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH126 left Melbourne on May 31 at 11:11 p.m. local time, scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 5:28 a.m. However, the plane soon had to turn back to Melbourne after a passenger attempted to enter the cockpit, threatening to blow up the plane. The passenger in question had recently been discharged from a psychiatric hospital and was seen by a passenger running towards the cockpit with a large, black cylinder in hand. According to the Independent, witnesses saw the man running up and down the aisle, claiming he had a bomb and that he was going to blow up the plane, before he was tackled by cabin crew members who confiscated the item. Passengers then helped the flight attendants tie the man down. The cylinder turned out to be a powerbank, but the man was taken off the plane by armed officers wearing body armor. Malaysia Airlines issued an apology and put up the passengers in hotels, giving them a seat on the next available flight with the airline or other carriers. Melbourne Airport went on temporary lockdown and all departing and arriving flights were suspended as officials handled the situation.
Passengers Hospitalized After Plane Lurches
An August 5 incident sent people flying — and ten of them to the hospital — when it lurched violently mid-air. The American Airlines flight was flying over the Atlantic Ocean en route to Philadelphia from Greece, and the cabin crew had just handed out drinks when both passengers and crew members were suddenly urged to return to their seats and fasten their seat belts. Drinks began spilling as turbulence increased, and the plane suddenly lurched hard, sending both drinks and people flying into the air. Three passengers and seven crew members were hospitalized as a result once the aircraft landed in Philadelphia after about half an hour, but all were released by the next morning.
Passengers Tie Down Drunken, Screaming Man Covered in Blood
In July, a Russian passenger on a flight from Moscow to Antalya with Red Wings Airlines was strapped down to his seat by his fellow passengers after a frightening episode. Video footage taken by another passenger shows the man, who appears to be covered in blood, laughing maniacally before he begins shouting and banging his seat tray table up and down into the seat in front of him. Cabin crew members apparently attempted, and failed, to calm him down, and later video footage shows fellow passengers having him laid out across a row of seats so that they can tie his wrists together. After the flight, which lasted nearly an hour, landed, the man was arrested by police. It is unclear where the blood came from.
Pilot Rants to Passengers About Trump, Clinton, and Her Divorce
Earlier this year in February, a pilot got the attention of both her passengers and the news media in an episode full of truly bizarre behavior. As United Flight 455 was getting ready to take off from Austin for San Francisco, the plane’s captain boarded the plane in civilian clothes and took to the intercom to ask the passengers to take a vote on whether she should fly in her current clothes or change to a uniform. She apologized and explained that she was going through a divorce before continuing to use the PA system to go on a rant about President Trump and Hillary Clinton, both of whom she referred to as “a-holes”, before ranting more about said divorce. Passengers started to tweet at United asking for a new pilot, and 20 people on the flight decided to get off the plane, citing that they didn’t feel safe with her flying it. A new pilot was brought on after a delay of about two hours, according to a United spokesman, and the company made a public statement apologizing for the inconvenience.
Plane Makes Emergency Landing After Woman Discovers Husband’s Affair
A Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Bali was forced to make an emergency landing in Chennai, India, due to a disturbance caused by a passenger who had just discovered her husband’s affair. According to The Times of India, the passenger, who had been drinking, was snooping through her partner’s phone as he slept when she apparently discovered evidence of an affair and began fighting with him. When cabin crew members tried to calm the situation, the woman in question was rude to them and the situation escalated to the point where the plane had to be diverted. The couple and their son were escorted off the plane, which then resumed its journey without them, and the family had to board another flight back to Doha.
Plane Narrowly Beats Hurricane Irma to Rescue
As Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico with winds of 185 mph, one brave pilot took the risk of flying through the hurricane on September 6. The daring escapade was documented on Twitter by aviation research and writer Jason Rabinowitz, whose tweets held the website in thrall. On the same day that a few flights tried to head to San Juan but turned around, one Delta flight took off from New York just before the hurricane hit in order to rescue evacuees. According to Rabinowitz, plane was 34 minutes late in taking off, further heightening fears, but the flight managed to land in Puerto Rico and pick up approximately 30 passengers before heading back to New York amid heavy rain just 52 minutes after landing. Rabinowitz also pointed out that the flight was extremely and dangerously close to the outer band of the Category 5 storm, but luckily all passengers were brought to JFK safe and sound.
Plane Nearly Crashes On Crowded Runway
In what one senior aviation data analyst referred to as “a pretty major screw-up,” an Air Canada pilot mistook a crowded taxiway at San Francisco Airport for a runway and narrowly avoided a massive collision back in July. The aircraft flew as low as 175 feet before the pilot was able to pull up and narrowly miss four passenger jets waiting to take off. There is evidence that there was only one air traffic controller working at the time, and it was thanks to a warning from a pilot on the ground that the Air Canada pilot was able to make the save. Air traffic control reports show that the incident may also have occurred as a result of the closure of one of the airport’s two runways. Around 1,000 people were on board the five airplanes involved, but luckily, no injuries occurred.
Plane Swerves Dangerously on Runway
A video depicting an Emirates Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, making a terrifying landing went viral in October. Emirates flight EK 55 landed in Düsseldorf, Germany, on October 5, already wobbling upon approach and then bouncing and swerving severely upon landing. The pilots were able to get the plane on track within seconds, but the video still managed to terrify many and has earned over 12.6 million views on YouTube so far.
Plane Tires Blow Out Upon Landing
Shortly after touchdown on November 26, multiple tires on a United Airlines flight blew out on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport. “I almost went flying out of my seat,” one passenger told News 12 New Jersey. Fortunately, no one on the flight, which was coming from Frankfurt, was harmed, but passengers were stranded on the tarmac for approximately an hour before a bus came to take them to the terminal. One of the airport’s runways had to shut down temporarily as a result, causing delays for other flights and not doing much to improve Newark’s standing as one of the worst U.S. airports for the holidays.
Plane Turns Around After Man Bites Fellow Passengers
In early December, an entire flight from Los Angeles to New York had to divert to Los Angeles after a passenger began biting his fellow travelers and hitting others. The man apparently began biting those sitting with him, whom he knew, as the JetBlue flight was flying over Utah and also began hitting other passengers. When doctors present on the flight attempted to examine him, the man attacked them as well. The day was saved when another passenger grabbed his hands and held them behind his back as cabin crew members properly restrained him. Upon landing in Las Vegas, the man was taken off of the flight, and the rest of the passengers resumed their journey to their destination.
Pregnant Muslim Woman Forcibly Removed From Flight
In September, a video of 46-year-old Maryland professor Anila Daulatzai being dragged off a Southwest flight by police officers went viral on social media. The airline claims that Daulatzai informed staff she had a life-threatening allergy to dogs, which were present on the plane, but that she failed to provide a medical certificate, without which passengers can be denied boarding. Daulatzai told ABC News, however, that she only asked a flight attendant how many dogs there were going to be on the flights, specifically letting them know that her allergy was not life-threatening. According to Daulatzai, cabin crew members kept asking about her allergy and seemed uncomfortable with her being on the flight, even after she had taken a seat away from the dogs. In a public statement, Daulatzai’s attorneys alleged that an airline representative asked her to leave the aircraft and when she refused, police offers came and “pulled her from her seat by her belt loop,” dragging her down the airplane aisle “exposed with torn pants.” She was then arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, obstructing and hindering a police officer, and resisting arrest. The statement claims that Daulatzai, who was two months pregnant at the time of the incident, was “profiled, abused, interrogated, detained, and subjected to false reporting and the trauma of racist, vitriolic public shaming precisely because she is a woman, a person of color, and a Muslim.” Maryland Transportation Authority Police stood by the actions of the officers, stating that Daulatzai’s removal was within its guidelines, while Southwest Airlines made a statement publicly apologizing to Daulatzai and claims to have made multiple attempts to contact her. According to her attorneys, Daulatzai had to leave her home after the incident due to hate mail and violent threats that she received.
Scorpion Stings Passenger During Dinner
On the same day as the incident with a Kentucky doctor being dragged off a United plane, a passenger going from Houston to Calgary on United Flight 1418 got a nasty shock when a scorpion stung him during the trip. In a Skype interview with CBS News, the passenger said he was having dinner when he felt something fall on his head. He went to grab what turned out to be a scorpion when it stung him underneath his fingernail. Upon landing, medical personnel arrived at the aircraft and the scorpion was also euthanized. In addition to an apology from the airline, the passenger and his wife were given flight credit for their troubles.
Snake Escapes From Carry-On Bag
A Ravn Alaska passenger got off his plane in March, yet somehow forgot to take his pet snake with him. By the time the owner realized his mistake and informed airline officials in Aniak, Alaska, his scaly friend was already flying the return trip to Anchorage. The man had not registered the snake for pet cabin travel, and the airline does not allow large animals that aren’t dogs to be used as service animals. Back on the actual flight, an announcement was made over the intercom to the flight’s seven passengers. A little boy ended up seeing the four- to five-foot-long snake lying near the back of the plane underneath a duffel bag. With little to no panic, the airline crew managed to get the sleepy snake into a plastic trash bag and store it in an overhead bin for the rest of the 90-minute flight. For more absolutely terrifying aviation episodes this past year, check out the 17 scariest airplane moments of 2017.
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