It Took 77 Hours to Fly from Florida to London on This 'Journey from Hell'

As if we needed another reason to never fly again.
November 5, 2018, 6:56pm
A man naps on the floor of an airport
A man on a separate, unrelated flight naps on the floor of an airport. Photo by Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Air travel is a nightmare, what with the flaming luggage and the puke and the drunk-ass passengers peeing on your seat and all, but at least it's fast. Our ancestors endured weeks at sea and arduous journeys in wagons back in the day, but we get to zip across the skies in metal tubes. They may be pretty awful, but at least they get you where you need to go quickly—or, uh, they're supposed to.

Last Thursday, what should have been a quick British Airways flight from Orlando to London turned into a 77-hour, weekend-long nightmare, BBC reports. The trouble reportedly began before the flight even left Florida. After boarding the plane and waiting on the runway for four hours, British Airways ordered everyone off due to some technical issues with the aircraft. The airline tried to put everyone up in a nearby hotel, but the process was a total shit show, according to passenger Sarah Wilson.


"Imagine 200 people turning up in the early hours to check in to a hotel," Wilson told BBC. "It was a chaos and there was not a BA representative in sight taking charge."

Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of what another passenger called a "journey from hell." After two days in Orlando, Wilson and her fellow passengers finally made it onto a flight to the UK on Saturday—but like some kind of annoying third-act horror movie twist, just when you thought it was over, the nightmare suddenly gets a whole lot worse. After less than an hour in the air, the pilot announced that the plane's technical issues weren't actually fixed after all, Wilson said, and they needed to make a landing in New York City.

"They had to drop the landing gear, lose fuel to make the plane lighter, and divert to New York," Wilson said. "It was the roughest one-and-a-half hours on a flight I'd ever experienced… Children were having panic attacks, the turbulence was awful and people were scared, tired, and hungry."

The entire 200-person flight wound up in New York's JFK airport, with no clear line on what was going on from British Airways, which reportedly didn't provide them with accommodations. To make matters worse, hotel rooms were seriously hard to come by with the New York Marathon going on.

"One mother asked where she could get formula for her seven-month-old baby and the reply was, 'It would be difficult to find anywhere at this hour.' She was in tears," Wilson told the BBC. "Children were sleeping on floors in JFK's Terminal 7."

British Airways apparently got everyone onto a flight Saturday night, and the passengers were finally back in London by Sunday morning. The airline has since apologized and said it "appreciated that this was an exhausting and frustrating experience," according to BBC, though it's unclear if the passengers will see any kind of credit or refund for the ordeal.

Now, sure, shit happens, but the lesson here is clear: Air travel fucking blows. Humanity's great hubris has caused us all to think we deserve to soar through the heavens, but at what cost? Why must we continue to subject ourselves to the terrors of these sky prisons? For the love of all that is holy, let's just collectively agree to stay out of the skies. Maybe it's time to go back to traveling by boat from now on.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow VICE on Twitter.