What’s Your Worst Experience Flying?

What’s Your Worst Experience Flying?
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For the first time in my life last week, I missed a flight. That set in a degree of panic and frustration I’d not encountered before, and I can completely understand why: nobody wants to be stuck in an airport, especially when you’re thousands of kilometres from home. Especially when it’s your fault.

But there are plenty of things that can go wrong when travelling. So for this week’s Off Topic, let’s talk about airline disasters.

Missing luggage is one of the more common stories, although for most people it tends to be rectified fairly quickly. That wasn’t the case for a colleague in our office, however, whose luggage not only got misplaced, it vanished from the baggage database entirely. It took almost a full week before the luggage was found, but the amount of calls back and forth was a nightmare unto itself.

This Is What Happened When Sydney Airport Lost My Luggage

My bag and I have been round the world many times. We’ve seen and experienced amazing things but none stranger than when we flew to Adelaide from Sydney. Flight QF783 landed in Adelaide on Thursday night, November 10, but the bag didn’t arrive at the luggage carousel. The lady at the baggage office tapped at her terminal and then said. "Oh my God, it’s lost."

Read more

For others, the problems are usually associated in-flight. The person behind you decides that their airfare justifies reclining their seat right into your knees, during take-off, after take-off, amidst the food service, and drinks throughout the whole flight. Or you’re stuck in between two people with a liberal attitude to personal space.

Or children. Just in general. But crying children in particular.

What’s the worst experience you’ve had while flying?


  • It wasn’t a major disaster, but back in the days when paper tickets actually mattered (2004) I left our tickets in a hostel in Ireland, drove several hours, and then realised they were missing when we got to the airport. Calls to the hostel were not initially productive, but then they found them, but didn’t have a fax, and… There was definite tension as the minutes and hours ticked down until the airline decided they had enough information to reissue our tickets (at the cost of several hundred dollars). Still, we made it home. Thankfully that’s my worst experience in 20-odd years of flying.

    • The *best* experience should have been the worst. An overnight stopover in Tokyo for four people on the way from Sydney to London (the outbound flight on the same trip as above). We saw that our flight was delayed when we got up, so we were able to take a little longer at breakfast. Then we caught a train to the airport… what I now know was 各駅停車 – a local train. Every. single. stop. By the time we reached the airport, every single checkin line for BA was empty and blocked off. We were so late that the plane was basically boarding. We found someone at a counter to help us, they went off to discuss, then came back extremely apologetic: “I’m so sorry… we can’t seat all of you together”. 4 business class tickets, including seat A1. The one and only time I’ve flown business class internationally… skybeds… brilliant. Who cares who was sitting with who?

  • I’ve only flown a half dozen times so I’ve never experienced anything that terrible. A reclined chair in front of me making the tv screen in the back of the chair angled weirdly is probably my biggest complaint.

  • Spent the flight between Singapore and Paris next to a ripe smelling gentleman. I had to lean out into the aisle for the entire flight.

  • either the 13 hours spent in Beijing terminal during their worst smog day on record

    or the 1hr 45 mins of a screaming chair kicking indonesian kid from Melbourne to Canberra that followed the trip back from China.

    I was one breath from sparta kicking that little shit down the stairs onto the tarmac when his parents finally turned and apologised through broken english.

    • either the 13 hours spent in Beijing terminal during their worst smog day on record

      haven’t been to Beijing in decades…is it that bad even in the terminal??

      • There was enough smog inside that I couldn’t make out the far end of the terminal, there’s only so much they can do to keep it out.

        It was 100x worse outside though.

  • Worst for me has been a cancelled flight. Sitting around Melbourne airport for 7 hours waiting was just plain dull and boring. Outside of that, a crosswind in Brisbane once caused a dodgy landing, with the plane feeling like it was landing sideways. That was entertaining.

    I guess getting ‘randomly’ selected for testing on every flight for 15 years might fall into the category of bad as well, but its such a simple process you hardly notice it after a while.

    First international flight could have been bad, with the people next to me having a 4 month old baby with them. Turned out bubs was a charm, with exactly zero issues the entire flight from Brissy to LA.

  • Getting delayed in Brisbane international at night with freezing ac and no blankets while dressed for warm weather. They also gave us vouchers to use at the closed eatery.

  • On my way to Singapore to do a quick plane switch to continue on to Shanghai, and I got a killer migraine. Started spewing quite badly, and got taken off the plane by stewards in a wheelchair, and taken to the airport doctor. Wasn’t allowed to get on our connecting flight, so ended up having to get a hotel room for the night. At least the hotel was in the airport, so we didn’t have to worry about collecting all our baggage or anything. Made the connecting flight the next morning without issue.
    Really the only bad experience I’ve ever had with air travel.

  • Happened at the beginning of this year. Was in China staying with my wife’s family and got very sick the night before we were due to fly home (coming out both ends if you catch my drift). Went to the hospital and had to go through some tests before I ended up getting hooked up to a drip because my body had lost so much fluid and also to pump in some antibiotics.

    Couldn’t reschedule our flight without it costing us a lot of $$$ so I ended up having to take some antibiotics with me and suffer the 13 hr flight to Melbourne. Luckily it was a night flight so I somewhat slept through 2/3 of it but the rest of the time was dashing to and from the loo (luckily had a seat nearby). Add in the 2 hr drive to Beijing airport and 2.5 hr drive home from Melbourne airport……..yeah.

    Somehow managed to make it home without soiling myself but was sick for a few more days after that. Hope to never go through that again, was a bit of a nightmare.

  • Worst would probably be going to Adelaide for Avcon last month. On the way there my flight was cancelled for no apparent reason and it took several flights later to finally get there, and literally only *just* made it to the convention centre in time to submit a thing for a comp. And then on the way back the accordion I took with me had its case pretty well trashed and the instrument itself damaged thanks to shithead luggage handlers. Fuckin’ mad.

  • Ive had a few flights cancelled sue ti bad weather, the worst experience for me was when my red eye flight from Darwin to Brisbane was cancelled and since I had already checked out of my hotel I had to spend the night at the airport until I could get on the next flight in the morning.

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