14 Worst Airport Experiences We Hope You Never Have
Travel conjures feelings of excitement and anticipation. But one should always be prepared if things go wrong. Often, these experiences are unavoidable and a test of patience. One person asks an online forum to share their worst airport encounters. Here are 14 of the most horrific tales.
1. Wrong Airport
One family reports being on time for an early morning flight, only to realize that the taxi driver had taken them to the wrong airport. By some miracle, they still managed to make the flight. But take caution from their mistake and always ensure your driver has the correct destination.
2. Denied Boarding
My partner and I were in Ecuador in the summer of 2022, about to board a flight to Peru. When it was time to board, staff at the gate told us we didn’t meet all the COVID-19 entry requirements, specifically the third dose of the vaccine.
The Peruvian government’s official page stated that two doses were fine, so naturally, this is what we went off. But the airline staff insisted that the rules had just changed.
Roughly 45 minutes and many tears later, we were ushered on board. Apparently, they had checked in with staff at the airport in Peru. Since it wasn’t our mistake, they were willing to make an exception. Phew!
3. Sleeping on the Airport Floor
With the traffic an airport gets, I certainly wouldn’t want the floor to be where I rest my weary head. However, one person reports a 15-hour delay where they spent the night sleeping on the terminal floor, only to have the flight canceled an hour after it was supposed to leave.
4. Security Doubting Your Identification
Another traveler shares a story about when they were told they could not use their valid and in-date license as a form of identification simply because they had “gained too much weight.” That’s incredibly insulting (and a waste of their time)!
5. Being Asked for Identification Mid-Meal
Imagine eating your lunch in peace (as much peace as one can find in an airport) and being approached by security. That’s what happened to one flyer, who was asked for their ticket and passport mid-meal.
6. International Travel: The Fiasco
One jet setter told a story: While traveling from Seattle to New Zealand to study abroad, the first two planes they got put on broke down. Eventually, the first flight took off, and they made it safely to LA.
However, they missed their connecting flight with the delays and were asked to return the following evening. Unfortunately, they had a hotel checkout at 10:00 AM, and the many rules of checked bags and security left them waiting outside the security area for five more hours.
7. There’s Vomit on the Plane
Another globetrotter told the story of a time when they had to wait on the tarmac for about an hour before they got to their gate and exited the plane. During that time, a chain reaction of vomiting ensued, with multiple people across the plane throwing up. To make it worse, it was a hot day.
I feel bad for the flight attendant that had to clean it up.
8. Deported & Traveling in Handcuffs
There are holding cells behind hidden doors and corridors of airports, which one user learned the hard way. They were transported to the airport in handcuffs, with their luggage in tow in the hands of immigration police. They were kept in a cell until it was time to board, during which time they were brought to the plane and had their handcuffs removed in front of the plane full of passengers!
9. Stressful Dash & Out $30 for No Reason
There were plenty of stories from travelers who experienced a stressful journey to the airport, only to arrive with plenty of time—or met with a delay. One mentions paying $30 for a quarter-mile ride when their cab driver told them they’d never make it to the proper terminal if they didn’t rush. The cab driver just wanted to make an extra buck, and the user got through security in only two minutes.
10. Stranded by an Airline
Not to call out one specific airline… but one name was mentioned on more than a couple of occasions. This story occurred in Chicago when a delay caused one adventurer to miss their connecting flight and the event they were traveling for. They also did not help with any accommodations.
11. Shots Fired in Security
This story was a wild ride and even warranted a news article. The commenter explains, “I was about to board my flight when a woman walked into the area before security and fired a shot into the ceiling. Suddenly everyone in the terminal started screaming.
Some lady came into the men’s room with her two kids to hide. I walked out of the bathroom to see pure pandemonium as people were running onto planes that weren’t theirs, hitting the emergency exits, and running onto the tarmac.
Over an hour later, they made everyone in the airport go through security again. I do mean everyone. Even the people that worked there.”
12. Snowstorm Delays & Booked Hotels
This story did remind me of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. A traveler told the tale of a flight they took out of Detroit that was delayed due to a snowstorm. Other airlines began quickly announcing their delays, and by the time their flight got canceled, it was “too late.”
By too late, this person could not find accommodations. The hotel was already booked, their parents could not pick them up due to airport closures, and they ended up sleeping on the cold floor of the Detroit airport.
13. Lost Wallet
One reader shares a story about their wallet falling out on the plane. “I took a flight to Grand Cayman. En route, we had a transfer in Newark. I got off the plane, walked about 60 feet, and determined my wallet must have fallen out of my pocket in my plane seat. I returned to the gate and was refused boarding to look for it. I was told in some amount of horror, ‘The cleaning crew is already on board.’ They found my wallet and returned it to me except for $300 in cash.” Rude.
14. The Heat
“I was stuck on a plane full of people in Midland, Texas, during the summer (100+ degrees Fahrenheit) that boarded and sat for almost two hours. Many people were getting sick because of the heat. I was sweating to death – all for them to deboard the airplane and get us on a new plane. I’m grateful for the safety, but it was brutal,” shares another frequent flyer.
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Where indicated, some images courtesy of Depositphotos.com.