According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2016 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, flying on an airplane hasn't been that bad lately. Customer satisfaction for North American airlines is at a ten-year high, and overall opinions on in-flight services have improved by 12 points from last year's study. There are exceptions, of course, so we asked some well-traveled friends about the worst experience they've ever had during air travel. Next time you're up in the air and feel like complaining about how the on-demand movie selection doesn't include the entire Hunger Games series, just remember one of these stories.
UNEXPECTED THIRD WHEEL
I was trying to doze off on a flight to Vegas when these two people next to me got wasted. They were strangers before take off and all over each other by the time we landed—a lot of under-the-complimentary-blanket action happening. I was trapped and mortified in the window seat, trying to make frantic eye contact with the flight attendants (who seemed like they were trying to ignore the situation). I tried to distract myself by cloud gazing, but every cloud looked like a penis. The new couple started discussing where they'd hook up in Vegas; the woman was explaining why she likes being tied up during sexual activity, and the guy said he'd never done that before but would love to try it. Eventually, the flight attendants could no longer ignore how loud, drunk, and horny the couple were and asked them to tone it down—but we were about to land anyway, so my flight was ruined. - Tiina, 26
NICE AND TOE-STY
On a recent flight from Boston to Dublin, I was thrilled to have three seats to myself. I constructed an enviable bed of stacked pillows and microfiber blankets, curled up with my head near the window, and fell asleep. During my nap, I felt something warm and toasty stroke my head; I curled into the warmth, and it was wonderful. I woke up due to some turbulence and realized where the warmth was coming from: The old man sitting behind me had stretched his legs and squeezed his sweaty, bare foot onto my seat, which I'd been snuggling up against the whole time. Inconsolable, I destroyed my airplane bed quickly to reorient my body away from his foot. I couldn't sleep for the rest of the flight, instead spending the rest of the flight staring into space and wishing I had packed dry shampoo. - Natasha, 27
MARY KAY? NO WAY
I was on a flight full of Mary Kay consultants on their way to a national convention in Texas. I ended up sitting between two obviously competitive co-workers who didn't like each other very much. They fought the entire flight to earn my sale. Four hours later, I deplaned with no free samples, a head full of facts about Mary Kay cosmetics, and two useless business cards—and, I smelled like bad perfume. - Laura, 25
CRY IN THE SKY
I'm from the Dominican Republic, so I make the three-hour flight to (and from) New York pretty regularly. On one particular trip, I was sitting next to a woman who didn't stop crying for the entire flight. I tried to ask what was wrong, but she could barely breathe—let alone talk. I wanted to be sympathetic, but when a dirty tissue landed on my side of the arm rest, I was done. - Rachell, 24
About three hours into a nighttime flight from New York to Spain, the pilot flipped the lights on and addressed us over the intercom. I could tell something was wrong immediately by the tone of his voice. He very calmly said, "OK, folks, we just have a little issue, and we're gonna stop really quick to just check things out." I had no idea where we could possibly "stop really quick" between New York and Spain, so I became convinced he was just placating us before our inevitable watery demise. Instead, we landed at a Canadian Royal Air Force base—the closest place we could land that wasn't the Atlantic Ocean—and stayed overnight in their barracks. I was excited to finally score a Canadian passport stamp, but not so much about the barracks, which resembled a grungy combination between a dorm room and a jail cell. The replacement plane was set to arrive at 6 AM, so I skipped sleeping altogether—which turned out to be a mistake, since the replacement plane didn't actually arrive until 4 PM. Once onboard, we learned that the new plane wasn't certified to fly across the ocean, so we had to fly back to New York to start our trip all over again. By the time we got there, most of the international flights were gone. - Lauren, 26
I sat next to a guy who had blood all over his shirt. I spent the entire 11 hour flight panicking that he'd murdered someone and was on the run. - Catherine, 25
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