Let’s take a moment to honor an the most underrated of travel occurrences: the boring flight. Flights where absolutely nothing happens — where the mind-numbing monotony drives us into a stupor from which we’ll desperately do anything to escape: counting armrests; reading the in-flight magazine cover to cover, including ads — twice; watching a Nicholas Spark movie.
Yes, boring flights are sheer torture. But the underrated thing about them is that you always walk away from them uninjured. For a boring flight is always a safe and healthy flight. In contrast, exciting, eventful flights are often ones that end in injuries so bizarre that, like the aforementioned magazine, you have to read about them twice to believe — injuries like the ones we’re bringing you now in our look at “the 10 Weirdest In-Flight Injuries.
So take a look at these injurious calamities (some accidental, some intentional, all non-fatal) and keep in mind: no one on these flights could rightly claim their trip was boring. And the next time you have a monotonous, boring flight at least console yourself with the fact that no one is getting hurt — unless they’re watching a Nicholas Sparks movie.
A flight that really sucked
In 1990, a British Airways pilot on a flight from England to Spain was partly sucked out of the plane’s cockpit mid-flight. Shortly after the plane took off from Birmingham, England, for Malaga, Spain, a windshield blew out at 23,000 feet. The resultant loss in air pressure sucked the pilot out of his seatbelt and into the hole, leaving virtually half his body dangling outside the aircraft. Fortunately, flight attendants grabbed onto the captain’s legs to keep him from being sucked completely out of the plane as the co-pilot made an emergency landing. The captain suffered fractures, frostbite, and shock but was otherwise okay. He resumed flying a few months later.
Propeller hits woman
A rough landing got even rougher for an Air Canada passenger last year. A plane making an emergency landing at Edmonton International Airport went into a skid, causing a propeller to break off and fly right into the plane, smashing through the window and narrowly missing the face of a female passenger. She was hit by flying debris, as were four others. But because no one was directly hit by the blade, none of the injuries was life threatening.
In 2009, an employee at Houston’s Bush Airport had an interesting workers’ comp claim to fill out: he was injured while rounding up otters. Apparently, the little critters had escaped their cages in the cargo hold during flight prep, and the worker was injured trying to retrieve him. His injuries apparently minor, and the flight was delayed for 90 minutes.
This is your captain not speaking
Landing a plane is a delicate process. In between putting on the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign, talking to air traffic control, and engaging the landing gear, one can understand a pilot leaving out one minor but important detail: telling the flight attendants that he’s about to land the plane. On June 28, an Air India flight encountered turbulence while attempting to land in Mumbai. The pilot, obviously distracted by the rough landing, apparently forgot to tell the flight crew to take their seats prior to touchdown. The result: five flight attendants suffered various injuries in the unexpected landing.
That’s one way to deal with a snoring passenger. A woman got kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight at Chicago’s Midway Airport last April after she allegedly poked a male passenger with a pen. He’d reportedly been snoring as the plane was on the tarmac about to take off (the guy fell asleep before takeoff? He must have been exhausted!) and she allegedly got all stabby in an effort to get him to quiet down. He didn’t quiet down; the victim reportedly screamed in pain (“Yeah, my arm hurt,” he later told Chicago’s ABC7, “because I was being stabbed by a pen”). The plane returned to the gate and the woman was removed. The victim suffered minor bruises and refused to press charges.
Far too many people mouth off at flight attendants and, even worse, sometimes assault them. In 2003, a male flight attendant reported an extremely unfortunate encounter with a female passenger who repeatedly refused his orders to take her seat and fasten her seatbelt.
At one point, the passenger’s extreme behavior delayed meal service. What happened next is something best explained by the flight attendant from his own report, as posted on the Aviation Safety Reporting System national database of in-flight incidents:
“She was beginning to shout and getting hostile. I returned to the female [passenger] to ask her to please remain seated with seatbelt fastened for her own safety. She then turned around to face me, taking her hand grabbing between my legs, pulling me towards her. I felt intense pain…and felt her finger tear the crotch of my pants and pulling me closer.”
Ouch! Fortunately, the flight attendant wasn’t seriously injured.
Related: What’s That Stench? 10 Ways to Get Yourself Kicked Off a Plane
She put the intolerance in “gluten intolerance”
In a 2001 incident in the ASRS database, a female passenger on a London to Miami flight became upset when she wasn’t given a gluten-free meal. According to the report, the passenger “proceeded to throw the entire tray set-up and hot entree, hitting [flight] attendant and getting 15 [passengers] scalded and burned from the entree.” No serious injuries were reported and the passenger was met by the cops upon arrival in Miami. Maybe she got a gluten-free meal in jail.
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