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The 15 Craziest Things Flight Attendants Have Seen on the Job

Flight attendants are always meeting new travelers, so it's no surprise they've gathered some funny, scary, and just plain bizarre stories along the way.

Elderly woman putting on shoesToa55/Shutterstock

Foot fetish

“There were two older ladies who were sitting, and every time we would walk by, they would look uncomfortable but wouldn’t say anything. … Only afterwards did we investigate. There was an older man who had some sort of foot fetish or fascination with these two ladies’ feet, so he had crawled in under his seat and you couldn’t see him then. He was just kissing their feet and caressing and tickling their feet. They were so proper but so horrified that they were too embarrassed to talk about it.” —Merav Richter, flight attendant of 23 years. Here are 18 other (more common) things you should never do on a plane.

Air sickness bag tucked behind airplane seat pocket for nauseous passengerThamKC/Shutterstock

Sick joke

“This woman was walking off and was trying to hand another flight attendant her full sick bag. She said, ‘You can throw it away in the terminal but I can’t take it’ because it’s a biohazard basically. The passenger rips open the bag of vomit and throws it on my poor flight attendant, then scratches the flight attendant across the face. The cops came down and met us at the gate. This is why you don’t mix booze and sleeping pills.” —flight attendant with Southwest. Check out these other crazy flight stories from veteran airline workers.

Bucket with cleaning items on light backgroundSergey Mironov/Shutterstock

Crappy flight

“After a flight, I was cleaning the plane and realized a passenger had taken everything out of her seat pocket and put it on the seat. Luckily I was wearing gloves because I moved everything and there was a cow patty-sized turd on the seat. I don’t know how she did it without anyone seeing or saying anything.” —flight attendant with Southwest. Learn the genius way flight attendants deal with smelly bathrooms.

activated emergency slide on the planeMario Hagen/Shutterstock

Let it slide

“One of the most random questions I have ever heard was from a lady who asked me how the emergency slides reached the ground, a normal question you may think. But the lady asked me as we were cruising at 39,000 feet. She believed that the slides could be inflated from up there and reach the ground!” —flight attendant who writes confessionsofatrolleydolly.com under the pen name “Dan Air”

Hand holding used baby diaper on white backgroundBonNontawat/Shutterstock

Child’s play

“I had two twin boys on my flight. Their mom was in such pain trying to deal with the boys on a two-and-half-hour flight. She said she wanted to apologize for the mess, and I was thinking they’d smashed up animal crackers or something. But she’d spilled an entire thing of baby formula on the seat and stuffed a diaper in the seat pocket, and I found a hamburger patty on the seat, and one kid had vomited in the seat pocket. There’s not much we can do about it, so we had to block up the rows until we could get into another base.” —flight attendant with Southwest. Don’t miss these 21 airline worker secrets for flying with kids.

female bare feet dancing on summer streetSergey Peterman/Shutterstock

Limping through the terminal

It’s unsettlingly common to see items of clothing left behind on a flight. “The most random has to be the single and very expensive Christian Louboutin shoe. How the [heck] can you leave behind one shoe? Surely you would notice the limp you’d inevitably have as you disembarked, one foot six inches higher than the other. The female passenger in question, a minor TV ‘star’, had been enjoying the perks of first class and was rather worse for wear as she got off the aircraft at JFK. Blissfully unaware she was missing a shoe, the crew thankfully reunited her with the designer heel before she reached the top of the air-bridge.” —Air writes on confessionsofatrolleydolly.com

Horse, horses on the farm on a sunny day.24Novembers/Shutterstock

Horseplay

Some flights have a mini stable in the back of the plane to transport horses. If the animals start to act up, they’ll be tranquilized to avoid damaging the plane or passengers—but one time the tranquilizer didn’t work. “The horse did freak out, and when the handler came to take care of it, it kicked the handler and we had to supply medical first aid.” —Richter. Check out these other 32 surprising things pilots won’t tell you.

A parrot as a pet showing at a hotel lobbySuparat Sukpradit/Shutterstock

Polly want a plane ride?

“I’ve had an emotional support parrot before. They talk the whole time; he would say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’” —flight attendant with Southwest. Learn the one word you can say to make flight attendants like you.

Passenger woman putting luggage into overhead locker on airplane (Selective focus)Chun photographer/Shutterstock

Finders keepers

“One of my favorite funny announcements made by a crew member once was: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please check in the seat pockets, underneath the seats, and in the overhead lockers. Any items left behind will be evenly distributed between the crew and you may end up buying back your lost property off eBay in the near future!’” —Air. Make sure you don’t do these things flight attendants wish you’d stop doing.

Close up abstract background from chewing gum platesIurii Stepanov/Shutterstock

Minty fresh

“I’ve had one woman ask me if we were going to be passing out gum on the flight so her ears didn’t pop. It was her first flight.” —flight attendant with Southwest

 empty seat airplane and window view inside an aircraft Tisha 85/Shutterstock

No stupid questions?

“Strange requests soon become the norm after a while. Frequently asked questions include: ‘Is there a window open on this plane because it’s freezing’—mid flight! ‘What is that loud noise and will it continue throughout the flight?’—talking about the aircraft engines! ‘Where are we at the moment?’ —when flying over open ocean! ‘I’ve left something at home/in the airport/in my car. Can we turn around?’” —Air. Learn the first thing flight attendants really notice about you.

Scared chihuahua in its crate.Grirk/Shutterstock

On the loose

“We have had crazy stories around an animal escaping, or a passenger not listening to the rules about holding the animal and keeping it in the cage. Some people think they will be sneaky for a few minutes and take them out, and the animal starts running down the aisle.” —Richter

Beautiful elegant pink lace. Women's pink panties with lace.margostock/Shutterstock

Throwaway

“On a 5 a.m. flight from Houston to Dallas—which is 30 minutes, if that—a woman had left her frilly pink thong in the lavatory. It was like she was trying to throw it away and left half of it in but left the rest hanging out, so she wasn’t trying to hide it.” —flight attendant with Southwest

photo of glass of wine in the planeYuliya Yesina/Shutterstock

Taking bets

On a 3 a.m. flight from a mining town, most of the passengers were male miners, except for two female passengers, who seemed to be strippers. “By 4 [a.m.] they were hammered and were making a game of walking through the aisles, taking bribes on who was going to take them into the lavatory. … We don’t know who the lucky winner was on that flight because we think they felt us hawk-eyeing them.” —Richter. Find out how many flight attendants have sex on planes (it’s more than you think!). 

Doctor coat with stethoscopesheff/Shutterstock

Doctor on call

“A passenger is slumped all over in the aisle and his eyes are kind of rolled in the back of his head and there’s vomit all over, so we’re thinking it’s a seizure. There ends up being an ER nurse onboard, next to a woman who clearly had been drinking. We’re trying to get her out of the aisle and the drunk woman is saying ‘I’ll come too, because my dad is a doctor and I know how to deal with this situation.’ By the time I get back, this poor ER nurse is covered in vomit, and we start asking this kid, ‘What’s wrong? Do you have a preexisting condition? Are you on any medication?’ He just sits up and says, ‘Oh my God, I’m so wasted.’ We’re like ‘Are you kidding me?’ … By the time we get to Albuquerque, he had no idea what city he was in or who was picking him up or if he’d driven. We had a wheelchair pick him up and take him down to baggage.” —flight attendant with Southwest. Find out how likely it is to have a doctor onboard a flight.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.