OP will go first.
I have had some bad luck in the past before with flying to/from - and inside - China.
For the domestic flights within China, the basic rule of thumb is that about half of them will be delayed;
this is because about all airports have too less capacity and generally the domestic flights are last in hierarchy (first military, then international, then domestic). So I am used to waiting at airports.
I was particularly unlucky at my last flight from Guangzhou to Shanghai.
My colleagues already warned me about expected delays, but I chose to ignore the warnings.
I arrived in the afternoon, 4 hours before my flight (had nothing to do anyway).
At check-in I was not allowed to buy access to the business lounge, with either money or air-miles. I was becoming worried by this fact since they are usually happy to sell upgrades/access except when the lounge is (expected to be) full;
and the business lounge is only (expected to be) full in case of delays..
At check in they (and I) furthermore forgot to check in the baggage for the cargo hold (so I had to go back after the security check and redo check afterwards again).
Also, at the security check I had to ditch my lens fluid;
But after having passed through the security check two times, I finally was ready to wait until I could board my plane;
so I bought some beers and started to watch a good movie on my private laptop.
...and then the bad weather started,
and one-by-one all planes were delayed;
and then most of them were cancelled.
Hoping for the best and expecting the worst,
the worst did of course happen,
and my plane flight was cancelled (after first being delayed for 4 hours).
And so I was proposed an arrangement for an airport hotel and to fly next day.
Luckily this time I stayed cool (thanks to the long waiting I already had gone to a mental state of quiet acceptance about life, the universe and everything) and - being polite but quite insistent at the service desk - I was finally able to talk my way into the last plane to Shanghai.
They only could arrange for a business class seat for me, but it was for the same price as my original and already very cheap ticket.
Only problem was: I had to get my cargo baggage out of the original plane (was already being offloaded) in 20 minutes before boarding.
But, thanks to some luck, I managed to get my luggage in time (although I had to take it as (hand) baggage into the cabin iso having it put into the cargo hold).
...and of course, the plane I had gotten into was seriously delayed as well;
but eventually it took off.
So, after waiting a total of 13 hours,
and seeing the security check for the third time,
I finally felt the wheels disconnecting from the concrete and I was flying to Shanghai.
Bad luck didn't stop there however,
when I finally found myself in a taxi towards to hotel,
we found that even the highway was closed off due to construction work…
but, on a positive note, being convicted to city roads iso the highway,
it turned out to be a very nice night tour of Shanghai by night
My worst flight was back in 2001 leaving JFK in New York to Prague. The connection in Paris had a delay so I would never had made my connection. The attendant at JFK tried to be helpfull. He got me on an earlier flight, changed my ticket and away I went. All was well until a month later when I went to come home. I was told at the check in that my ticket wasn't valid. I asked why and was told I was a no show for my original departure flight out of JFK so I was cancelled out of the system. The JFK attendant didn't change my status on the original flight that I was moved up to an earlier departure. I ended up flying stand by on the return flight having to pick up my baggage at Paris and go through the same stand by status on the flight leg back to the states. It didn't matter I was flying Business Class either. The attendants were not very helpful. Made it seem it was all my fault.
Now I check my flights coming and going ahead of time and make sure I am registered.
I had an emergency landing in eastern Canada back in the early 80s. We 'landed' during a snowstorm and ended up skidding sideways for probably the last third of the landing in between two runways. Just prior to this, we had an aborted landing (about 25-50') where a snowplow was still on the runway. YIKES!
Good topic for sure as worst flights are probably somewhere in the back of our minds so hope many others will reply.
My worst flight was actually almost self induced. I was flying in the right seat of a King Air 200 (BE20) about 25 years ago as my friends Safety Pilot. He was practicing for an upcoming check ride and needed some instrument approach work under the hood that would simulate flying in the clouds. You strap on this contraption over your head and pull down the front so it shields you from looking outside the airplane and only seeing the instrument panel. It is a very effective training aid for those days when there are no low ceilings around for getting actual instrument time to log.
So we depart Montgomery County Airport (CXO) which is about 30 miles north of IAH airport on our flight to Jefferson County Airport (BPT) in Beaumont, Texas, to practice approaches. We are flying along at 11,000' when we start getting into some light turbulence with the sun beating in the windscreen. It feels like 200 degrees inside yet the actual temperature was probably 75. I'd eaten a very light breakfast and had some Orange Juice before we took off and started to feel somewhat nauseous as we started our descent into BPT for the first approach. About 5 miles from the airport the Control Tower cleared us for a low approach which I had requested when the first nasty feeling came over me. Before I knew it I had the air sickness bag filled and we needed to land ASAP.
Great, a Safety Pilot getting air sick, what an embarrassing thing to climb down the air stair onto the ramp with this blue bag in your hand as the lineman who parked us waits for the passengers to get off the plane, only there were no passengers just the two of us. As I made my way past them after a few minutes in the terminal building to consume some water and compose myself, one of the lineman asked if we needed any more air sickness bags for the trip home?
That was a horrible flight but the rest of the three hours were just fine afterwards and I did in fact toss out the OJ and stuck to water.
I apparently have been lucky with flying up till last Friday;
last Friday I landed in one of the last planes arriving in Shanghai before all flights were suspended due to the typhoon;
the plane "jumped" a few times and slid sideways a bit;
I think the pilot did a good job considering the winds/rain;
but this landing was the first one to spook me a little
Flying from LHR-YVR-HNL with salmonella food poisoning. Vomiting every 30 minutes, oh and some how water was spilt on me and my seat. The flight crew of this BA flight were outstanding though. OH, then I had EMTs waiting for me at the gate in YVR to determine if it was safe for me to continue on to HNL...
Did I mention this was a school trip and I was in he 7th grade at the time?
My worse flight. I had a flight from jfk to phoenix which was at around 5pm. I was in stamford and my meeting finished around 11 so i investigated alternatives. There was a flight from Weschester to DC then to phoenix that would get me in three hours early so what the heck why not. Well now the rest of the story. Got to westchester with plenty to spare and boarded the flight around 2 pm . We went out to the runway and was told there were thunderstorms in DC so we were delayed. Back to terminal . About an hour later back out to runway and then told thunderstorms were in New Jersey in our flight path. So back to terminal. One more time out to runway and guess what thunderstorms now over New York. Did anyone think storms wouldn't come from DC to NYC. Well it is now 8pm and flight get cancelled. So now i have no flight, no car and no hotel. What a big kettle of fish this is. Luckily i am platinum on Marroitt so even though full they let me back in marroitt in Stamford, . I am chairman on Avis so probably stole someone elses car and chairman on USair so they put me on an early flight out of JFK. So now you know the rest of the story and why top status matters
Mine has to be the SFO-EWR flight coming back from Napa in 2013. The wife and I were on the plane in our seats at the gate when the Asiana plane crashed. The ground crew were all pointing in the direction behind the plane and pulling out phones. At that point I knew something was up. Sure enough the plane had crashed. Obviously loss of life is a terrible thing and we were expecting to have to get off the plane and wait a while to see really what happened. Well they closed the airport and that's where things really went downhill fast. The flight was supposed to leave at 12:20. We were delayed until 2:40, then 3:40, then cancelled. I ran to a CS desk and managed to get us rebooked for a later flight. Then a half hour later that flight was cancelled. As you can imagine, by then everyone across all airlines were trying to get rebooked and it was a nightmare. I got through to a United agent on the phone while on line at the airport and after about 20 minutes of dealing with him I got nowhere. I suggested all kinds of things with no result. I suggested, SFO, OAK, and SJC as options headed out and basically any airport on the east coast. EWR, LGA, JFK, PHL, BOS, IAD, BWI. I didn't care, I even suggested get me to ORD and I can figure out something. I literally go nowhere with the agent even using other airlines. So, the wife had a great idea. She had AA miles. We called AA Gold line and in a matter of 10 mintues were confirmed on an LAX-JFK flight at 6AM the next morning. We RAN to the monorail and got to the enterprise rental car desk (the same desk I had dropped off a car 8+ hours earlier), and managed to secure a compact car for the drive to LAX. We threw our carry on bags in the trunk and hit the road for the 6 hour drive at 6PM. (This is another reason why carry on bags it the only way to go if you can). We stopped for gas and Baja Fresh at abour 9:30 and got to LAX a little after midnight. We tried while driving to secure a room at any Marriott or SPG property by LAX and that got us nowhere. We brought the rental car back and sat in the check in area of terminal 8 for the next 3 hours until TSA showed up. With each hour that passed, we saw a few more familiar faces. They were at SFO too. One couple said the SFO rental cars were all gone so they had to find a neighborhood location in San Fran to get a car. So we got thru security and to the gate and left on time. Since we left from EWR but came home to JFK we took the airtrain and then NJ Transit to get home and were home by 2PM the following day. It was quite the adventure.
Looking back it was something we can take heart in knowing we got through it as a couple with a battle plan and some air miles and cool heads. Needless to say when the United agent I had spoken with at the beginning told me the first flight he could get us on was Tuesday AM and here it was Saturday afternoon, I knew that wasn't going to work for us.We got through it and now have a story to tell about the time we drove, SFO to LAX to fly home.
That's a story alright ks77 and reminds me of us attempting to get out of Key West (EYW) a couple of times over a holiday weekend. For some reason the flight on successive trips by now defunct Gulfstream Airlines from EYW-RSW-IAH got cancelled and there was no way we'd make our connection in RSW. Twice in a row that's crazy, but I'd send the wife to the Avis counter to snag one of the last cars for the drive up US1 while I attempted to use the then CO Platinum line to find a flight out of MIA, FLL, or PBI that we could make.....each time had to drive all the way to PBI and get on an E145 for the flight home, but at least we got the exit row so it wasn't too bad and nothing like your experience.
Boy ks77, that was a real nightmare, and I'm sorry to say, I'm not surprised. I am not a fan of UA at SFO. Not at all.
I had a similar experience on 9/11 waiting at the gate for the boarding call, only to hear the announcement that all flights across the U.S. were canceled. Then bought an Amtrak ticket, which was also then canceled. Then literally got the very last rental car that was available for probably 100 miles, and booked it home that tragic day. With a heavy heart and the flu too.
I can't cop to any bad flight experiences, other than some minor delays (only one major, but it worked out), one luggage delay, and some fairly harrowing turbulence one time out over the Grand Banks. Once my grandpa tried to avoid having to fly out over the coastline and then back in on IFR one cloudy day, and saw an open spot that seemed like it was almost directly beneath us, and then dove for it. I didn't think I'd be able to hold my cookies until we landed! No fun, that one. And then of course there's the usual annoying behaviors of passengers and even sometimes airline employees. On the whole however, any flight that gets me where I'm going safely is a good flight in my book.
A tragic incident to say the least ks77, and one that could have been avoided, but changing culture will be difficult no doubt.
As for your situation... Well, that's why you fly AA (or DL) and not UA
Yep! And the thing is, the fares for my wife and I for that trip on UA was using miles for my ticket and UA vouchers for her ticket. The vouchers were from my complaining to UA about all my flights in and out of ORD being late for like 6 trips in a row. So, when the flights were cancelled, and I applied for the refund, wouldn't you know it, their policy is to give me the value of the voucher back then the cash difference. So I got back like $75 and another voucher. I ended up using it but UA is absolutely my least favorite of the 4 major carriers.
After a six-hour delay so that one of Air Jamaica's pilots could get his mandatory rest, on the way back to ATL from Montego Bay, I had to repeatedly pick up this enormous, narcoleptic Jamaican's arm out of my lap and replace it in his own. He only awoke once, and said, "Oh, sorry, mon!" But he promptly went back to snoozing (and letting his arm fall off the arm rest.) We were the last flight out of MBJ that night, and we got back to ATL at 3:25 AM. The airport was practically deserted, something I'd never seen before.
The good news was that the Margaritaville restaurant in Sangster Int'l stayed open till our flight boarded, so that eased the delay a little -- okay, a lot!
Wow, ATL almost deserted. Hard for me to imagine. None of mine reach the levels of some the stories that have been posted, but thought I would share.
Got to spend a fabulous night with my wife in the PHX airport on the way to ABQ from ATL. There were 100 year level thunderstorms and rain in PHX so we were diverted on our ATL-PHX flight to TUC. By the time we got to PHX our flight, which was the last Southwest flight to ABQ ,had departed. By the time we got rebooked about 11:30 PM on the 6AM flight the next morning it seemed hardly worth getting a hotel room for about 4 hours. That and the fact we had no change of clothes made us decide to stay at the airport. Fortunately there was a Panera bakery that stayed open since they were baking for the next day, so we could get a bite to eat. Terminal 4 at PHX was also deserted, except for cleaning staff, between 1AM and 5AM.
The other bad one was on another trip from ATL to ABQ. Back before AirTran was still flying under its logo and booking, but was part of Southwest, we flew from ABQ to DEN on Southwest and then AirTran to ATL. When we boarded at DEN, the gate agent had a problem scanning my boarding pass. He punched around on the computer and told me to board. My wife's scanned fine. On the day of our return, I printed out both of our boarding passes. No problem. We got to the ATL airport with time to spare, so we went to the Cafe Intermezzo in Terminal B for one of their fantastic pastries. While I was sitting there I got a text message from Southwest saying my return flight reservations had been canceled since I was a no show? on the original flight. I called Southwest and they confirmed that they showed me as a no show from DEN-ATL and my return flight had been canceled. I said that was interesting as I was sitting in the ATL airport while I was talking to them. I asked if my wife's ticket was canceled since she was on a companion pass and had to be traveling with me. No she was still good. Hmm. After a bit of back and forth, and them wanting me to go to the main ticket counter outside of security (no thank you), they finally redid my ticketing so I could get a new boarding pass from the gate agent and get on the plane. So made it back to ABQ as scheduled. After returning I emailed their customer service and they confirmed the AirTran gate agent overrode the system to allow me to board but did not indicate I had boarded. They were apologetic and gave me $200 worth of vouchers for a future flight. So could have been worse.
Rock Springs Wyoming, through the Stapleton in Denver, then to O'Hare in Chicago. Middle of winter, middle of a snowstorm.
This was in the late 1980's, in a turboprop where we each loaded our own luggage in to the cargo holds when you went out to the plane. I was carrying this gigantic piece of test equipment that had to go in the main cabin. The only place to put it was on the floor with my feet on top of it. This seating position brought the bottom of my feet up level with the seat so I was sitting in this scrunched up position that the North Vietnamese would of probably used as a torture position.
Getting out of Rock Springs was an experience. Near zero visibility, active icing on the wing, very turbulent in the mountains. The co-pilot kept coming back every 15 minutes or so with a flashlight to look out the windows to see if the black rubber anti-icing boots were inflating on the leading edges of the wings. We made it to Stapleton right when they were shutting down the airport due to heavy snow fall. This was around 11:30 PM and the only reason they let us land was that we were low on fuel and every other airport within range of the aircraft was already shut down.
It took a while to get our bags, the luggage hold doors were frozen shut so we were all standing out on the ramp while they brought out a cart with a hot air hose to thaw out the doors so they would open.
Making it in to the terminal, naturally our flights were "delayed" (not canceled, delayed, even though the airport was closed). As a result they would not put us up in a hotel. Finally when they did cancel our flight the hotels were already booked up with the other passengers. "No room at the inn" we were stuck at the airport.
I was rebooked on to a early bird flight that was more like a late night flight, now supposedly leaving at around 3 AM. The gate agent took pity on those of us intrepid travelers who remained and let us on the plane several hours before the scheduled time. By now the flight from Denver to Chicago had maybe ten people left who would of stuck it out. I went in to the plane, way in the back and spread out across three seats and went to sleep in a dark plane.
Somewhere around four in the morning a flight attendant came through the cabinet really quietly and shined a flashlight on us to take a head-count. Everyone was still asleep, the flashlight in the eyes woke me up but I did not move or say anything. The pilots and attendants got on board, fired up the plane and we took off while still sleeping across the seats. No seatbelt announcements, no hassle. They took pity upon us.
We made it in to Chicago around 8 am. The galley carts had been filled as if there was going to be a mostly full plane. The flight attendants just started feeding us everything in the carts. I guess the rule is that if food sits for too long in a galley cart it needs to get thrown out at the other end.
It was a tough night but United made a very bad situation tolerable.
Ok, this is not the "worst" flight experience since I almost ended up in jail and they canceled me off of every aircraft for several days. More like it was very interesting;
I was working for a pipeline company, our system provided jet fuel to airports throughout the US. I was an engineer and one of my responsibilities was in maintaining the system that kept jet fuel from being contaminated by bad stuff.
We took a call from a major air carrier that we had contaminated a 50,000 barrel tank of jet fuel with something that changed the flash-point of the jet fuel. The contaminant was probably gasoline and this is known as "testing hot" for jet fuels. The major air carrier was rejecting our batch (10,000 barrels) and wanting us to buy it back, including the other 30,000 barrels of jet fuel that was also contaminated in this big tank. We would of had to hire a fleet of tanker trucks to haul the 1.68 million gallons of jet fuel back to a refinery.
I was sent out with this sampling device that looks like..... well, it looks like a major oversized sex-toy that is eighteen inches long and about as big around as a beer can. I was to go out there and draw a sample off of the bottom of the tank and then do a flash test to determine the flash point of the fuel.
This thing is hand-carried in a wooden box that looks like it would be used for a very nice bottle of wine. I did not even have luggage for an overnight stay. Just go up there, take a sample, do the tests, report back and fly home.
Well, at the time airport security screening was a bit less paranoid than it is today but still the security guy asked me "what is this"?"
Being perfectly honest and even as the words that were engraved in to the side of the device I said; "oh, that's a test bomb".
You can imagine what happened; this strange shiny metallic object that looks like a cross between a sex toy and a pipe bomb shows up... people got all sorts of excited, particularly after I used the B-MB word.
I was put in cuffs, they took me and the strange object and put us in a windowless room at the airport with lots of very angry looking people in suits. Nobody wanted to hear my explanation, finally I convinced someone to call my company. The area manager showed up, the lawyers showed up... finally they were made to understand that this was a piece of test gear and in fact, I was flying on the same airline that received the hot product and they were already making noises about not being able to refuel planes up there because of the contamination.
Later that evening they let me go, they canceled all of my tickets, they did not want to have me flying their airline again. We did resolve the hot product issue by further diluting the hot fuel with more jet fuel and also letting that tank sit for a few weeks in the hot sun until the lighter ends (flammable products) evaporated out.
Never use those words in an airport. These days they may never find you, you will be sent to some tropical retreat in a distant country by a three letter agency.
Almost every time I have a bad flight, it is on Delta. I say, it looks like another "Delta Debacle". We had one two years ago where they were having hydraulic issues and had to turn around and land. When we got back, there were fire-trucks and rescue equipment all down the runway. Scary.
I know any type of incident on a plane can be unnerving even for a seasoned flyer however; a hydraulic issue on an airliner is nothing really scary as they have a backup system as you are probably aware. It becomes much more of an issue should the second system fail yet they can still fly the plane. The need to get on the ground is important as who knows what may be failing next so no need to take any chances.
Having the crash fire rescue folks on stand-by along side the runway and then following the plane all the way to the gate if they can taxi is normal procedure just in case on the very very rare instance something else were to go wrong.
Last time we were turned back on a flight when we hit cruising and due to aircraft issues, I was simply relieved that they wouldn't leave anything to chance. It was a short flight, the last leg, and only cost us a little over an extra hour of time. And Alaska Airlines gave everyone a $75 voucher for what they described as customer service that did not meet their standard of excellence. I hope Delta did at least the same for you, depending on the degree of inconvenience.
A couple decades ago, my wife and I were on a delayed USAir flight returning to DCA (National airport across the river from DC) after a winter storm blew in. We were the first plane permitted to land when the airport re-opened. Alas, the runway wasn't in as good a shape as they'd hoped. We touched down, didn't slow down much, and - as DC travelers know, DCA has a relatively short runway and a surrounding river - so the pilot promptly drove the aircraft into the infield grass. After that, the plane stopped rather quickly.
Could've been much, much worse. No one was hurt. They came out to get us with buses and rolling staircases. We got our luggage the next day. USAir was extremely apologetic, blah, blah... And everyone got a story to tell.
I won't count the small number of flights in which, when I was a young man wearing my olive drab "working clothes," I boarded a series of flights with a group of similarly dressed individuals, but most of us weren't on board when the plane landed... The planes were loud, seating was cramped and uncomfortable, there was no entertainment or meal or drink service, and management was not in the least apologetic - indeed, they were constantly screaming at us - as we exited the plane.... And then we had to walk long distances afterwards... Go figure...
ssindc you seem like a very intelligent bright young man, why on earth would you ever or for that matter anyone leave a perfectly good airplane while in the sky? So glad I did not have to endure that stuff while in the Army, just telling the pilots where to go was interesting enough!!
About 20 years ago we were heading for a family function, over a weekend, in Montreal, We were flying from Baltimore, but Montreal had been fogged in that morning and our plane did not arrive from Montreal until about 90 minutes after it was due to arrive in Baltimore.
Finally we were loaded and ready to take off, when a piece of equipment failed a safety check. We returned to the gate and were unloaded. We finally reloaded and took off from Baltimore more than four hours late. We arrived in Montreal at the peak of rush hour and what should have been a 30 minute drive from the airport, ended up taking 75 minutes to our hotel. All told we arrived at our hotel about 5 1/2 hours late.
I know that other stories are much worse, but our weekend certainly got off to a miserable start!
Some of my top worst flights:
In 1988, had to make an emergency landing because there was a fire onboard, in the overheads. A ballast relay had overheated, setting baggage in the overhead, on fire. By the time we hit the ground, you couldn't see across the aisle of the 737. They couldn't drop the oxygen masks - because there was a fire. When we hit the tarmac, the bozos over the wings popped the emergency doors, fueling the fire. We all evacuated down the chutes.
In the early 90's, was making our final approach to Logan, just before touching down, the pilot went full throttle, steep climb and hard to starboard. She came on the speaker to state, "We have good news and bad news - the good news was we were cleared to land, the bad news is someone else was cleared for take off on the same runway. So, we will be looping around and making another approach. We'll have you safely on the ground shortly".
Also, in the early 90's, on a flight to Fort Wayne, we started making very low passes by the tower. They finally came on and told us one of the landing gear would not go down. They had to hand crank it, but could not ensure it was fully locked in place. Lots of foam trucks, at the ready, when we landed but all was good.
My worst flight was from Lynchburg to Charlotte. It is a flight of about 55 minutes, that I took almost every Friday for three months in 2009. We Canadians dubbed it the barf bag express, One Friday, there were two fronts competing over the blue ridge mountains, and our dash 8 was bouncing around like a stoned bunny. There were only 8 of us on board so we had to spread out to balance the plane. Our US Airways Flight attendant, who realty was a hoot in gentler times sat in 5C and she could tell that we were all on edge so she told us a story, That day was the anniversary of Ted Bundy's birth, so she told us the story of Ted Bundy. We took off in sleet and landed in heavy rain, and for the 55 minutes we heard of murder and death, and we thought we were going to be next. When we landed at CLT at 1805 that night, there were a few more that landed after us but not many. CLT was closed for three hours because of lighting and other warnings. With the backlogs, I eventually got to Toronto at 4 am, all the time thinking of the horrors of Ted Bundy.
flight back home also wasn't perfect;
I took 2 glasses of wine in the lounge and was happy to fall asleep directly after boarding;
after about two hours I woke up again;
expecting to be cruising already I was somewhat surprised we were still on the ground;
delayed for 2 hours :-(
(normally this only happens on inland flights)