he widely held assumption that the brains of flight attendants are chock full of juicy stories from their adventures in the sky is decidedly not without merit. I recently put a callout on Man Repeller’s Instagram asking for a volunteer to interview for a flight attendant job profile and received so many submissions, I couldn’t pick just one. So instead, I asked each woman who emailed me to share her most jaw-dropping tale, and boy oh boy did they deliver. Read their answers below and meet me in the comments (with your mouth agape, I can assure) to DISCUSS.
The Passenger Who Got Stuck in a Toilet
As told by Mary, a 28-year-old flight attendant from Florida.
It all started as a normal day in the life of a flight attendant based in Miami. It was a hot summer day, high humidity with salty air blowing in the 100-degree heat. My pantyhose felt like they were melting into my skin. I made it off the employee shuttle, through security, checking in on my tablet while trying to look like a rockstar working the terminal. The boarding process wasn’t so bad that day. Sometimes it’s pretty chaotic, as I am sure some of you well-traveled folks are aware of. Everyone boarded, the doors closed and we were ready to go — or so I thought. Suddenly I received a call to the front of the plane: “Uh, hey, we can’t leave, we have someone who is stuck inside the toilet.”
I sent a fellow flight attendant to the back to see exactly what was going on. Sure enough, there was someone wedged into the toilet. We were trying to be as inconspicuous as possible…which was not working. We tried pulling on the passenger’s arms, but nothing worked. We finally came to the realization that we needed maintenance. We also called the captain, who didn’t believe what was happening, so he came back from the cockpit to check it out for himself. He got an eyeful.
The whole ordeal resulted in a two-hour delay. Needless to say, the other passengers were not thrilled, and per usual they were taking it out on the flight attendants. How could I explain to an airplane full of 134 people that someone was stuck on our toilet because they had flushed while still seated and the suction wedged them in? Maintenance came to the rescue and detached the toilet head, which freed the passenger. As humiliating as this was for the passenger, we as flight attendants were speechless. So, to anyone reading this, please remember one thing: Do not flush the toilet on an airplane while you’re still sitting on it.
The Poop Incident Followed by a Contraband Chihuahua
As told by Ciara, a 28-year-old flight attendant from Ireland.
One of the weirdest experiences I’ve had as a flight attendant took place on a flight from Dubai to New York. After we landed, when all the passengers had finally left, my friend and fellow flight attendant went to the bathroom and screamed. She slammed the door open and was like, “Just look in there.” I did. Someone had taken a full on dump ON TOP OF THE TOILET SEAT. We had to go for drinks just to deal with the shock.
Then, on the way back to Dubai, we had a half-empty flight. We were delighted. We loaded everyone on and got ready for takeoff. As soon as we were about to hit the runway, the captain notified us that there was a dog on board so we were going to have to turn back. Now, I know dogs are allowed on most U.S. flights, but on a 14-hour flight, they are prohibited. In fact, the only animals allowed on Emirates flights are falcons, not dogs. So we returned to the airport and security came onto the plane. Turns out a couple smuggled on their chihuahua in a handbag. He started barking and that’s how he was discovered. Security removed the couple. By that point, all the other passengers were extremely disgruntled, even though everyone had four seats to themselves.
The Nearly-Missed Connection
As told by Hannah, a 24-year-old flight attendant from Georgia.
I left my house at 5:45 a.m. I arrived at the airport at 7:47 a.m. It was an early morning, and I was running late. I rode up the escalator to the main part of the airport where the ticket counter was. I immediately noticed an extremely long line at the ticket counter and thought to myself, “Thank god I don’t have to stand in that!” I walked through all these people and heard the sweetest, broken and most frantic voice. It was like the sound of a lost angel looking for directions.
Her name was Joan. She was shaking so much I had to grab her hand. She asked me if I happened to work for Delta and I said, “Yes, ma’am, I do.” She said, “Oh, can you please help me?” I knew if I stopped to help her I was going to miss my flight, but I told myself not to lose sight of what was important. I walked over to a manual kiosk machine with her and asked if she had her confirmation email. She was shaking so much out of worry, I couldn’t even read her phone, so I took it from her and told her not to fret. Then she started crying. I typed in her confirmation number and it didn’t work. I tried it again. Nothing. I told her I was going to try and check her in on my phone online to see if that worked. BINGO! It did. But then what? I couldn’t print her boarding pass from my phone, and the confirmation number still wouldn’t work on the kiosk. I also couldn’t just give her my phone to go through security because I needed it for my boarding pass. I tried to download the Delta app on her phone, but she couldn’t remember her Apple ID password so it wouldn’t download. So I had another idea. I decided to put her phone number into my phone, send myself the boarding pass through mobile, and then send it to her. WE FINALLY GOT IT. At that point, it was 8:08. Her flight was at 8:27, and mine was at 8:30.
I watched her walk frantically to the security line and thought to myself, “I don’t think I’m supposed to be done with her yet,” so I went up to a security officer and said, “Look. I know this is a stretch, but that woman is my friend Joan, and it would be awesome if she could cut to the front of the line.” The officer kindly escorted Joan to the very front. She was teary-eyed and hugged me and kissed my face. We both made our flights.
The Mysterious Shadow in the Aisle
As told by Akoni, a 30-year-old flight attendant from Hawaii.
The aircraft I work on is typically staffed with two flight attendants, so it’s on the small side. One particular evening, I was working with a friend and we were on our final descent into Portland, Oregon. We were both in our jumpseats, one of us in the back, one in the very front facing the passengers. The lights were off and the cabins were dark. All of a sudden, I saw a dark figure standing in the middle of the aisle. At this point, the plane’s landing gear had already dropped, so I immediately got on the PA system and asked the shadow to please take their seat because we are about to land. They didn’t budge. They just stood there with one hand on each of the overhead bins. I kept shouting at them to sit down to no avail until the wheels finally touched down.
We had a smooth landing, luckily. As soon as we turned off the runway, I quickly unbuckled my seatbelt and ran up to the mystery person. I saw it was a middle-aged woman and begged her to please sit down. She said, “You don’t understand, I can’t sit down.”
I replied, “Whatever it is we will figure it out when we get to the gate but please just take a seat, everything will be fine.” She then abruptly grabbed my shoulders and shouted loud enough for the entire cabin to hear, ” YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. I SHIT MY PANTS. CAN I PLEASE GO TO THE BATHROOM?” Needless to say, I moved out of the way and allowed her to walk past me toward the lavatory.
The Romance That Almost Didn’t Happen
As told by Erin, a 30-year-old flight attendant from Toronto.
I work for a small regional airline. One time, I was scheduled to have a 24-hour layover in Newark. I knew I would be staying at an airport hotel with absolutely nothing fun nearby, so I only packed a hoodie, some leggings and Vans for the trip. I was working with a friend and our plans were to order room service and catch up in one of our hotel rooms while watching bad TV.
The flight to Newark was only one hour — super quick — and the plane was full. During boarding, I was chatting with a pretty cute passenger stuck in the back row. The conversation was standard (how many flights I do a day, etc.), and I mentioned the 24 hours I had coming up in Newark. It turns out the passenger was actually going into New York to see some friends at a big get-together and very casually invited me and my co-worker along. I politely declined given the contents of my suitcase, but we exchanged numbers (in my mind, solely out of politeness). Once in the hotel, we were exchanging texts and he assured me it was going to a very casual “loft party” and to let him know if we changed our minds. Early in the night we decided, fuck it, let’s just do it, knowing there would be no one there we knew or would see again. When I told him we’d had a change of heart, his reply was, “Great. I’ll send a car.” Wait, what? A car? We shrugged it off.
An hour later we were in a black town car. I was wearing the leggings, hoodies and sneakers with a bit of effort put into my hair and makeup, but not much. I got a text that said, “Just tell the doorman that you’re here to see Josh.” We pulled up to what looked like an old warehouse. It was not an apartment at all. We saw a few people walking in, all of them dressed to the nines. Once we were inside, it was very clear we weren’t wearing the right clothes.
The party lasted all night. I had the best time with the passenger who invited us. It was very romantic. We even snuck out onto the roof for some time alone. The party was totally dreamy, in the most beautiful space and full of so many well-dressed, beautiful people, it actually felt like a sequence out of a movie. My friend and I had to stop drinking at 4 a.m. because there’s a law that restricts flight crews from drinking within 8 hours of operating an aircraft, but we still managed to lose track of time. Suddenly we realized it was almost 7 a.m. The party was still going, but we had to be back in Newark by noon, so we jumped in a cab. As we walked back into our hotel, we ran into our captain coming down for breakfast. We had to lie and say we were out for a smoke (neither of us smokes!) and to make it seem even more casual, we joined him for breakfast, still wearing last night’s hair and makeup and clothes.
After breakfast, we showered and got ready for another day of flying. Operating without sleep is a big no-no, but we were young — nothing lots of coffee couldn’t fix. As our passengers boarded, I hid in the galley to drink all the coffee and avoid dealing with oversized baggage. Once everyone was seated, I went into the aisle to help close the overhead bins. When I was halfway through the cabin, I heard my name. I turned around and saw the passenger! I felt a little sheepish as I had left the party without telling him. I didn’t want to say goodbye to the man I’d just had the best night with. I was shocked to see him on the return flight. I tried to keep our interaction brief and professional, lest any of my other co-workers overhear. When I got back to the galley, I sent him a quick text explaining why I acted so aloof.
After the flight, we continued texting. We found out we’re from the same city, and he asked to see me again. Long story short, he’s now been my boyfriend for three years!
Collages by Emily Zirimis; Photos via Getty Images.