Read these ten horror stories of everything from getting sent back to the country you came from, to an airport with no water or available power to losing your entire plane. You will never complain about your flight delays again.
10.) ‘They Lost The Plane’
Not being able to find your car in a parking lot is one thing, a plane though? Let shortyoh tell you.
“I arrive at OHare on a flight from BWI with a connection to CMI. I’m getting in at the end of concourse K, the connection is at the end of concourse G. We’re late, and I have less than 5 minutes to make the connection (connecting flight is listed as on-time, but still boarding) Crew on the flight from BWI is great and makes the point to insure that those of us with these tight connections are let off first.
I haul my ass through that crowded terminal. This was back when I was in shape and could cover a mile in about 5 minutes flat. I get to the gate I’m supposed to be leaving from, and the door’s closed. Shit…. wait… sign now says “delayed”. Turns out they never started boarding at all… no one has even come to man the gate yet.
About half an hour later, someone finally shows up. Turns out our plane isn’t here yet. Don’t worry, though, its coming, they claim.
Half an hour later, they tell us they’re not sure where the plane is, but it will be here soon. No biggie, I think. The ORD-CMI route is run all day long with a plane going back and forth. They just don’t have a clue where the plane is on its trip inbound, surely….
Still another half hour later, and here comes a plane arriving from CMI. But wait – that’s now for the later departure to CMI, that one isn’t our plane. They announce again that they aren’t sure where our plane is, but it should be here soon.
And yet another half hour later or so, with passengers demanding answers, they finally admit: “we’ve lost the plane”. Lost as in crashed? No. THEY LOST A FRIGGIN AIRPLANE! Ok, granted, it was “only” an ATR-72 at ORD, but it was supposed to be coming out of maintenance and somehow they LOST THE FREAKING AIRPLANE!
Thankfully about 15 minutes after that, they finally announce that after searching the airport for a few hours, they found the plane and it is being towed to our gate.
Now, I’ve forgotten which aisle I’ve parked my car in before. But I’ve never forgotten where I parked a 90 foot long, $25 million 74 passenger aircraft with a 90 foot wingspan.”
Suggested By: shortyoh, Photo Credit: Aero Icarus
9.) 29 Hour Delay
Yes you read that right. Reader Diesel got delayed for 29 hours.
“I was in Little Rock, Arkansas flying back to New Orleans, Louisiana, by way of DFW. There was moderate thunderstorms in Dallas at the time of my flight, somewhere around 1 PM. I showed up to the airport at Noon, dropped off my rental car and breezed through security. It seemed like it was going to be a great day of travel.
I have never been so wrong.
My flight was delayed six times, we finally boarded the plane at 11:30 PM. It was probably an hour or hour and a half flight to Dallas. The flight was going along smoothly until we hit the thunderstorm that had been at Dallas delaying our flight. The plane dropped like a rock for several terrifying seconds. The woman next to me decided to use my arm as her personal stress ball, puncturing the skin everywhere she had fingernails. We finally leveled out but it was like being inside a bucking horse for the next half an hour. Finally, it smoothed out the flight continued and we landed. Never was I so happy to be done with a flight.
So, I failed to consider that the flight would land after the connecting flight took off. So, once I arrived, there was no plane for me to catch until the next morning, at about 11 AM. I went to the counter to see if I could get a courtesy hotel stay, since the delay had been for weather, they were going to deny me. One call to customer service later and I was in a hotel for the night. Not a decent hotel, a crappy hotel by the airport strip club kind of hotel(if you travel a lot, you know what I mean) in a room that reeked of smoke and I highly doubt had clean sheets or bedding. I drowned my sorrows in the crappy hotel bar for all of 30 minutes, since that was all the time I had and went to bed.
Next day, went to the airport, breezed through security again and yay more delays. Ended up getting delayed five hours so I finally took off at 4 PM, landed in New Orleans at about 5:15, got my luggage and was back home by 6:20 PM.
So, my travel time ended up being 29 hours to get from Little Rock to New Orleans. It would have been a 7 hour drive. This story brought to you by United. They know you have a choice when it comes to flying and they wonder why you choose them.”
Suggested By: Diesel, Photo Credit: Getty Images
8.) Four Airports And One Birthday Later
Reader Kaufmania, rolls with the back seat down pretending its a shooting brake got to go to four different airports on his birthday. How nice!
“Setting —> 7am – Former East Berlin, June 20, 2004. Checking out of my single night stay at some econo-stay type german hotel as I only had to crash one night in Berlin to make my 9:15am flight out of Tegel. But when I go to check out everything goes wrong. The card is at the limit, so the 80Euro bill is not getting paid this morning. Long part of the story short… after some bad noise and exchanging of contact information, and the card itself, I was allowed to be on my way.
8:45am 6/20/2004 – Arrive at Tegel Intl. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck… gonna miss my flight! Wheeewww….. flight in delayed. Safe….
9:15am – Flight still delayed
10am – Flight still delayed
10:30am Boarding! Woot, and we are taxing by 11am, only 1hr and 45 mins late. No explanation given.
Sometime after 12pm, 6/20/04 – Land incredibly fast at Schiphol only 45 mins late. Good pilot. Still might make connector to Memphis after a month in Poland.
KLM, Northwest & Post 9/11 Airport Security….
I had been in Poland doing research for my masters thesis in chemistry. When in grad school always do as your advisor says – he is more of a mentor than a talking head. These are life skills he is sharing, not just laboratory technique and career advice. Thus when he says, “When you are asked what you were doing in Poland for 4 weeks at the international security check to board, just tell them you were on vacation”, you should listen. DO NOT tell them you have been working on an NIH funded research project to develop targeted drug delivery systems to combat cancer. The nice Dutch man will leave his counter and go speak with the man along the wall, ever so nonchalantly against the wall, so that in his Aviators, black suit, and clip board, total sticks out like a cobalt SS at Mustang dyno day. He will then check his clipboard and then look at you… then flip through his clipboard… and LOOK AT YOU! Before the nice Dutch man comes back to his counter and asks what you were doing in Germany. Explain to him you were only in Germany for one night and that you were in Poland, working with chemicals, and science, and government, and arise as much suspension as you possibly can right now! …. Back to the Man in Black along the wall who flips his clipboard and then STARES INTO SOUL thru his aviators. Twice more will I be asked about my time in Germany, which was only one night, before I am allowed to board. The lady in a full burka and three kids made it thru in a 1/5th of the time, I swear.
Lesson – Listen to you adviser & lie to airport security.
Okay… So not I am on the plane. Alright… just over 10 hours and I will be back in the states, and just one puddle jump to go after that before I am back in good ole Raleigh NC. However soon you realize everyone is on the plane, yet we are not backing away from the terminal. Strange. 10 mins….. 20 mins… I can see the wing and the engines of the DC-10… WTF – the engine is open and people are in it. Fuck. Capt. – “Everyone, we are having some problems…” fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.
But mind you this flight is full. That means there is a lady in her 60s sitting beside you. And she loves to conversate. She love to talk. She loves to tell you the things she knows that the general population is not aware of. In fact.. and this is a direct quote… “You know who invented Saccharine don’t you?
The God Damn Mormons!”
2 hours later they decide the plan isn’t going to fly. I am getting an extra night in Amsterdam on KLM/Northwest’s tip. Alas, my card is maxed out and back in Berlin anyway. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck.
6-21-04 —> My 23rd Birthday!!! As I am waking up in a rather nice hotel on the outskirts of Schriphol I realize all my friends are at my birthday/welcome home party at the Olde Bar in Raleigh. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck. Everyone is up by 5/6am and back at the terminal. We have been told they have fixed the plane and that we are the schedule departure of the day. However, when we get back on the plane something is amiss. I am in the same designated seat, beside the same basket case lady, but this is not the same chair. The entertainment (which are laughable in a DC-10) controls totally different. And believe me I was using them to drown out Saccharine/Mormon lady. This isn’t the same plane! Oh you cheeky dutch KLM fuckers. However, TSA regulations still state the luggage already on the other plane but be unloaded, scanned through security, and then RE-SCANNED through security again before being able to be loaded onto the new plane, which they still insist is the same plane.
Now since i missed my flight from Memphis to RDU yesterday, KLM/Northwest have arranged for my connector from Memphis to RDU for like Noon CST, no charge. Much respect or so I thought. WE STILL AT THE TERMINAL FOR ANOTHER 2 HOURS WHILE THEY DO THE BAGGAGE!!!! Which everyone can see being done. But remember, it is the same plane.
We land in Memphis… fucking Memphis Intl. Airport…..(ever been there? then you know) 45 mins late for my connector. By now I have notice this German woman who has been making all the same moves as me since Tegel. She isn’t so hot on English and could use a hand. We charge down the international terminal, into the main concourse, knocking women and children and kiosks aside, that by some hope and against hope the plan will still be there. Alas the gate is empty and no one is around. Except for one women who I will hate to the day I die.
Northwest employee behind the counter informs us the next flight to Raleigh is over booked already by 4 seats and we will need to purchase tickets for a flight tomorrow. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK…. how? no money… no credit… limited ability to contact people for help and this poor German chick who can’t speak English well. There wasn’t a problem shifting our flight reservation yesterday. Whats the problem now I ask? Ahhhh.. but asking for an explanation only arises contempt in this unionized and protected from on high employee. How dare I question her authority. She smarts off to me, and then literally turns and walks away into one of those authorized personal only doors. Bitch I got you name and you better believe I made a nasty call a few days later. But I also praised the help of another Northwest employee working with a US Air employeee to get us home after we trekked back to the international terminal for help from one of the liasons who were pointing people in all kinds of directions since our flight was delateyed essentially 18 hours.
The route us in a Bombardier to Greenville/Spartenburg Regional Airport (I grew up in Charlotte and I had no idea GSP had an airport). From there we board a twin US Air twin prop with 2 columns of single seats and no divider b/t us and the pilot and co-pilot. Drinks? Ha! you must be joking.
Emerging from the twin prop around 6:30pm on 6-21-14, my 23rd b-day, 25 hours later, directly on to the tarmac at RDU and taking an deep deep breath of that sweet sweet humidity! HOME!
Where is our luggage?
Is it not under the plane? No? What the fuck?
This is where things really just blew my fucking mind and while I had been loaded and my firing pin cocked, the safety (out of decorum) was still on. Well, apparently we couldn’t fly to RDU on that over booked flight from memphis that was later in the day, but as it turns out our luggage could. Who’d thunk it!?!?!? Safe mechanism flips to off, but its alright, its okay, the luggage will be in the main concourse at the Northwest office and we can just pick our shit up there.
Now, who reading this far thinks this went at all the way we were told it would?
Here I am, my face planted on the glass of the Northwest office wall, my luggage literally less than an inch away, but all the lights in the office are off and the door locked. After all it is after 5pm. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCKFUCK FUCK. I shall not be denied. A TSA agent came over and asked what the problem was, apparently in attempt to subdue me as a terrorist, to which point I told him quite directly to find a Northwest employee with a key. He obeyed as he knew I meant business. I was not to be trifled with.
Trifling, however was exactly what the Northwest employee did with me. By this point its been 45 mins. My ride had been circling for at least that long to pick me up. I am reassuring the poor German girl things are alright everytime I go to find an airport staff member or whoever to light a fire under Northwests ass and get someone out here. Now you would like we would be the only people whos luggage flew before they flew right…. no no no… after about 45 mins there are about 10 more people waiting, including the hard ass old lady in a wheel chair who you could tell didn’t take shit from no one… NO ONE.
Ahhhh… relief, Northwest employee shows up with a smile and kind voice. I am in no mood. “We’ve been waiting for 45 mins” I state, as a matter of a fact.
NW Employee – Jokingly and with a smile, “Oh! Well then it wouldn’t hurt if I went back and finished my dinner”
“OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!” that firing pen clicked and the resulting shot rang out, shutting down the entire concourse with those 4 words. I was rather loud. The look of fear was pronounced on his face as he stumbled with the keys to open the door. The old lady in the wheel gave me a thumbs up and nodded in approval. Once opened, only I entered, and distributed everyone’s luggage. The NW employee had no rights to that space anymore. I had claimed it as mine.
I got mine and the german chicks stuff last, shook her hand and wish her the best of luck in her Post-Doc at UNC, walked to 100 feet to the front door where Charlie was waiting in his truck along the curb, perfect timing.”
Suggested By: Kaufmania, rolls with the back seat down pretending its a shooting brake, Photo Credit: Getty Images
7.) ‘Terminal Brawl’
You see a lot of crazy stuff when you fly often as patrick0brien has, but this is the worst experience of them all.
“The scene: Nashville Tennessee to Chicago Illinois, August 2007
My flight was scheduled to depart at around 7:00pm, and I had arrived with plenty of time, checked my bags, and made it to the gate.
This particular airline is the one that has no specific seat assignments, at the time the system was a series of three lines, A, B, and C. Invariably this system always created a few “bohemians”, who camp out at the head of the lines replete with food, pillows and blankets for what only could have been a few day’s camping ahead of the scheduled departure time. Sure enough, when I turned the corner into the gate area, there they were camped at the head of the lines.
I smiled, all was well.
This particular gate area is at the very end of the concourse (aren’t they all?) which was essentially a circular configuration with gates around the periphery. The gate agent stations in this particular area were a good 20 feet away from the windows that made up the outer walls of the terminal. The seating areas were between those windows and the backs of those gate stations. But, of course, nobody was sitting in those seats as we all were trying to keep up with the bohemians in line.
I made it only a few back from them in the “A” line.
Then, the dreaded voice: “For those passengers going to Chicago on flight…”
(Why does every agent in the world seem to start that sentence the same way when announcing a delay?)
“… your flight is delayed by about an hour because of thunderstorms in the area.”
Likely story. We actually sat down in the area between the station and windows. Some went for food, I crawled into reading news.
One hour later: “For those passengers going…”
(That damn sentence again! Do they read from a script or something?)
“…your flight is delayed by another an hour due to a ground stop at Midway because of continuing thunderstorms in the area.”
Back to news.
The next hour’s delay was accompanied by the dreaded: “Your flight is delayed. We will give you updates as to how long.”
Ok, now we’ve broken on through to the other side of airport delays with that phrase. The mood in the gate area suddenly went from dour to silently boiling.
To alleviate the mood, decrease boredom, or to just deflect the mood away from the gate agents, a male agent was kind enough to turn around the screen normally used to monitor boarding, to face the seating area, displaying the air traffic control of the Midwest region. What we saw was actually a bit shocking. Apparently, the remnants of Hurricane Dean had been sucked up by the jet stream and was being shot across the Chicago area like a buzzsaw, one major squall after another. As each squall passed, we could watch all of the airlines parked in the air over Wisconsin and Indiana, jump on the airports like pigeons on freshly dropped bread, then retreat back to their orbits as the next squall came through.
At around midnight, we poor souls were offered hotel rooms. Which I was very surprised at, as airlines are not obligated to do this for weather delays.
It’s important to note at this point that I would have long ago removed to a hotel room had I not been closing on my condo the next day. So there was no way I could _not_ make it to Chicago that night.
At roughly 2:30am I noticed a female gate agent pulling from the back of the gate station the ancient numbered plastic flag-cards the airline used before the A, B, C, line system was rolled out. She then disappeared around the front of the station where the microphones were, and shortly her voice broke over the speakers. She had good news!
We all stood.
There was another Chicago-bound flight just down the concourse with twelve open seats and she would give cards to the first twelve people to get them on board!
Chaos. It was like those pigeons were now in the gate area. She was swarmed. Shouting, shoving, pushing, yelling, and maybe even some biting ensued. Finally, as she disappeared into the mass of humanity surrounding her, a fellow passenger threw a heavy roundhouse punch, which landed on the male gate agent, folding him up like a lawn chair.
I hadn’t moved from my standing position, just observing the disaster unfolding in front of me when I see the female agent, slightly worse for the wear, sneak around the rear of the station away from the mess.
With cards in her hand.
I walked right up to her and simply said: “Excuse me, is your offer still good?”
The next thing I knew, I had card-in-hand and bag-on-back and was tearing down the concourse toward the gate with the mythical waiting plane, three or four police officers sprinting just as hard the opposite direction to the mob scene behind me. I didn’t care that my checked bag was still on the old plane, it’ll just have to catch up to me later.
There I stood in the aisle, every eye on that plane fixed, with daggers, on my forehead. I didn’t care. I made it, I was going to get my new home. I found a seat, and finally relaxed.
Ah, dear reader, there was one more moment of interest to this affair: somebody had miscounted the open seats on the plane, there were only six open seats, not twelve. I was the sixth to board.
I had to watch the six that boarded behind me, be turned and escorted back into the pit of doom I had just left.
May their souls receive mercy.
I closed successfully later that day…”
Suggested By: patrick0brien, Photo Credit: Getty Images
6.) Make Sure You Pack Carefully
When you’re flying your best bet is to make sure you pack your bags carefully, lest you leave something in there that might arouse suspicions. Let kbucks tell you.
“I was traveling to visit grad schools, flying out of Detroit. I never packed a suitcase, just used the messenger bag that I carried around day to day. The day of my flight, I dumped all my crap out of the bag, gave it a good shake, and stuffed some clothes in it. Running late to the airport, hustling through security and as my bag is coming out of the scanner a guy says, “This your bag?” I say yeah. “We need to do a hand check on it.” Sure, OK.
They start digging through the bag, can’t find anything.
“Do you have a box cutter in here?”
I say, “I have never owned a box cutter in my life, but there could be an X-acto or something I missed.” I explain that I go to art school and this is the bag I carry everything in usually, but that I checked it and there shouldn’t be anything in there.
A little back story: About 2 or 3 months prior I was doing an installation piece that needed astroturf. So I bought a roll and a big utility knife to cut it down. In the parking lot at school I open the packaging on the knife and throw the knife in my bag. Get into the studio and, for the life of me, can not find the knife. I borrow one from someone else, get to work and forget about the other one.
In the meantime…
After about five minutes of digging the guy finally finds the knife…
Buried. In. The. Liner.
I actually just started laughing. He’s like, “What’s so funny?” I explained how it came to be that I had a knife in my bag, and that its not technically a box cutter.
He doesn’t see the humor.
Another guy, a supervisor, comes up, “ARE YOU A FUCKING IDIOT OR WHAT?”
Not sure how to answer that. So I explain again.
Now, I’m thinking, OK, nice work guys, you did your job, take the knife, I’m running late…
NOPE. Here come the airport Police. Arrested. Mug Shot. Fingerprints. Summons.
I was supposed to pay $150 bond to be let go, but the cop was nice enough to let it slide, but I had to go to court.
So, I figure, fine, I’ll plead “no contest,” pay a fine and that’s it. Go to court, there are about 20 other people there for the same thing, including a family from Tennessee whose 9-year-old boy was arrested for HAVING A POCKETWATCH with a small blade on the clip that his DEAD GRANDFATHER had left for him. The mother is crying, I’m all cocky, “Don’t worry, this is just a money grab, you’ll just have to pay a fine, he’s gonna be ok.”
I’m the first one up. I go up, plead no contest and the judge asks, “What makes you think you can plead no contest?” I explain the whole story. “Do you realize that you’re looking at a $1500 fine and 100 days in jail?” I hear the kid’s mom start sobbing behind me.
“I suggest you reconsider your plea and get a lawyer.”
Uhhhhh. Ok? Not guilty?
So, I call a lawyer and apparently the county has seen this as an opportunity to make some quick money, there is some provision in the law that takes away any disctretion on the part of the judge and the only person who can give any leeway on the sentencing is the prosecutor, or a person acting as the prosecutor. So, had I been indignant, the judge would have HAD to put me in jail.
Go BACK to court a month or so later, and sure enough, the acting prosecutor takes about 20 of us into a room and tells us that we’re obviously not terrorists but we are adults and need to learn to follow rules and that we need to pay for our mistakes to the tune of $300 and 6-month suspended sentences. According to the lawyer I talked to this was happening every day.
We were also informed that the TSA now has options and that 1 of 3 things would happen.
1. Receive a letter saying basically “Don’t do it again, idiot.”
2. Getting put on a watch list.
3. Notification of a civil suit brought by the TSA to cover the costs of processing and prosecuting you. (Some guy who watched too much Law & Order starts hollering about “double jeopardy.”)
I got #1, but I’m pretty sure they still put you on a list because the next time I flew out of there I had my 4×5 camera and gear in a backpack and the guy wouldn’t give me my ID back. (He was playing the cute little game where you reach for it and then they pull it away.) When I was like, “Really dude?” They decided my entire camera kit needed to be taken apart, they shook a $1500 lens out of a lens wrap onto the counter and started trying to pry open my field camera (it folds up into a little box.) When I got pissed and tried to show them where the button was so they didn’t break it, they freaked out and decided EVERYTHING in the bag needed to be swiped and tested with the bomb sniffing whatever it’s called machine. Every single piece of loose change, pens, every film holder, every single thing in the bag. I was there for about 45 minutes.”
Suggested By: kbucks, Photo Credit: Getty Images
5.) Turning Right Back Around
Reader Chairman Kaga made it all the way to Ireland and got sent back to the US.
“I landed a job working for an Austin-based company that was operating out of Amsterdam. It was a legit company, and the folks were stoked to bring me on board. They were relocating to Dublin to capitalize on a new relationship with a big-name investor and needed all the help they could get. Sharp minds with a talent for learning new things quickly and on the fly. Like me. I was to be the jack of all trades communications and media liaison, and ad hoc go to guy for what whatnots and need to haves. I’d technically be an Austin-based contractor who would work from various locations, but legally based at the Austin office. The pay wasn’t great, but they would pay for all of my living and travel expenses. It worked out to about double what I’d been earning.
I quit my job at the end of February, 2007 and started work from the Austin office, basically a large Westlake home, the next week. I was to fly to Dublin in mid-March. It was happening.
I sold my Saabaru, my furniture, my electronics, keeping only my iPod and Macbook. I packed my bags and flew out of Little Rock on American Airlines on March 10, 2007. After a layover in Boston, it was an overnight flight to Limerick, then a short hop to Dublin.
I landed at about 2 pm local time. Dragging my two international suitcases behind me, I queued up for immigration.
I handed my passport to the immigration official. He studied it. He asked me about my time in England as a student. Then he asked me what my business in Dublin was all about. I told him, more or less with no obfuscation, why I was there. He stared at me for what seemed like an hour, then hit a button behind his desk that lowered two scroll-down screens at both the entry and the exit, boxing me in the cubicle.
For the next two hours, this man played Jack Bauer, grilling me on every subject from my ancestry to how I voted to my connections to Northern Irish activists. He left. With my passport. I waited. Standing in a four-foot square space holding onto two St. Bernard sized suitcases, I waited.
Half an hour or maybe two days later, he returned. Wordlessly he handed me my passport with a page-sized green cross through an entry stamp. I didn’t even know what to say at this point.
“You’re being detained for entering Ireland with illegal intent. You’ll have one phone call to your contact here before you’re transported to a facility for processing. Do you understand.” That last statement was not a question.
As a matter of fact, I didn’t.
A man with a badge and an H&K MP5 escorted me out of the cubicle to a bank of phones around the corner. The immigration official followed. I called my contact. Thankfully she answered. I explained what had happened and she asked to speak with the immigration official. What followed was a rage filled five minutes of tension as the two demanded explanations from one another. Finally the agent looked at me and asked if I had a return ticket. I said yes.
“Lucky you,” he replied. Pure smarm.
Within five minutes I was in a seat on a plane bound for Memphis.
When I landed, I pulled out my laptop and opened a Skype call with the company to find out what the fuck had just happened. It seems Ireland had enacted a revision of their immigration policies earlier that year, essentially banning all companies with an office in the country from employing contract workers from outside the EU without first demonstrating through the Home Office that there were no adequate local candidates. The company’s attorney had failed to notice this change, and thus, I was screwed. Badly.
Postscript – I heard through the grapevine the company I was to work for pulled up stakes in Ireland after an investigation into illegal hiring practices and moved back to Amsterdam, finally completely relocating to Austin. Somehow I’m connected to them on LinkedIn. I still sweat bullets any time I travel abroad, even though I have a new passport with no angry green crosses.”
Suggested By: Chariman Kaga, Photo Credit: Getty Images
4.) Newark Doesn’t Seem So Bad Anymore
You like to joke about how bad Newark, or whatever other airport you’ve gone to is bad? You won’t after hearing Enginerrrrrrrrr’s story
“So I used to work in Iraq for an oil company – there’s really no other reason to be in Iraq. Well one day someone at a nieghboring company decided to be a moron and destroy a religious flag…yeah…moron.
The next day hundreds of people from Basra show up and want the guy who did it. Then shit went down on our camp. Long story short, thousands of people showed up from Basra and demanded that all expats leave the country within 48 hours. The army from Baghdad even had to show up to cool shit down. Fun times.
36 hours most of the expats were lined up to leave. Since I was one of the 5 americans, I was on the short list to get out for obvious reasons. So, we all get in our armored cars and are told the Army will be escorting us to the airport where the charter 737 will be waiting. Two police trucks escorted us… for like 30 other vehicles. Yeah…
We get to the airport without any issues from the checkpoints and were told we could get through the airport checkpoints directly. Apparently the commander in charge of the airport checkpoints didn’t like this idea. We all had to go get “taxis” to take us in. For some reason there were shit loads of taxis waiting for us at an unusually early time in the morning…wonder why…
Finally get to the airport and the 5 security checks (yeah, 5, you think the one check in the USA is bad?) later + passport control we finally get to the waiting area. By this point we have a couple hours until it gets dark (we got there at 7am…) and there is no food. Luckily the security guys who work at the airport manage to get us food (with some monetary coercion of course). Eventually they tell us we can’t take off because it’s too dark (no lights at this airport… it’s Basra, Iraq). Turned out they were just giving the air crew shit to keep them there.
So… there’s hundreds of us sleeping in this itty bitty airport and then the Iraq-equivalent of TSA comes and demands our passports. Not exactly anything we could do. They go make photocopies of everyone’s passports and then make us sign a piece of paper that says we don’t blame the country of Iraq for our “evacuation”. (I use quotes because the head of our division said it wasn’t evacuation…even though that’s exactly what it was). Then we all try to find a place to sleep on the floor with tons of guys around us snoring. (Thank goodness for noise-cancelling headphones).
So… wake up in the morning with my body in pain because of the concrete floor with thin carpet over it and we can finally get on the plane after a few hours (because fog…). Take a 2 hour flight to Dubai in a hot sweaty mess of a plane. Turns out those charter planes aren’t as fancy as you think, AC just blew hot air on us. Also since it was chartered, we had to circle for almost an hour (a flight to Dubai from Basra is usually about an hour) before they would let us land.
Then we land in the boonies and it takes forever for our bus to get us to the terminal. After that we have to go through passport check (luckily since I am american I don’t need a Visa for UAE, I felt so bad for the pakistani guys and others who couldn’t). Eventually walk forever to find my bag.
After this it was nice because we had our company pick us up in a sweet giant bus and put us up in a nice hotel and a ticket home.
I gotta say if I wasn’t so focused on getting the hell out of there it would have been so much worse. Either way, that was the most stressful and smelly travel experience of my life.”
Suggested By: Enginerrrrrrrrr’s, Photo Credit: Getty Images
3.) Getting Detained In Doha
Apparently Men’s Health is considered pornography in Qatar, which is enough to get you detained for 48 hours. Let Darwins_Payoff tell you.
“I was a Soldier at the time, travelling home from Afghanistan. Was originally supposed to go home via military channels, but plans were changed last second to have me flown out of Doha on Qatar Airways instead of the rotator. Normally, this is a good thing, Qatar is a fantastic airline, and I would get home much quicker this way.
The problem with Qatar is that pornography is illegal. Wouldn’t have been a huge problem, except for the fact that they consider Mens Health to be pornography. I happened to have bought one in preparation for the original flight home. Upon discovering the mag in my carry-on, they pulled me out of line and retrieved my checked bag, which contained tons of military gear (thankfully no weapons). They also scrutinized my orders, which supposedly had some errors. This all happened on a Saturday, and I was held until proper orders came though Monday afternoon.
All in all, I spent most of the time getting questioned, and the rest sleeping in my cell, on a bed more comfortable than I had in Afghanistan. In hindsight, all things considered, it wasn’t that bad. The worst part was not knowing how long everything would take to work itself out. The thought did cross my mind that I may have had to live out the rest of my life in Qatari detention.
Suggested By: Darwins_Payoff, Photo Credit: Getty Images
2.) ‘Enjoy Your Stay In Cuba’
If you thought that last one was bad, featherlite’s story is even worse.
“About 10 years ago I was flying to Havana, Cuba for an international tennis tournament. I arrived at the airport in Cuba late at night and there was barely anyone on the flight or anyone around. There I was, happily thinking everything would go quickly because it wasn’t busy… boy was I wrong.
I was pulled aside by a security officer who started to ask me questions. I made sure to answer every single one politely and honestly. Apparently unsatisfied by my answers, they “asked” me to follow them to another building away from the terminal. I was placed in a room with no windows and a one way door and left alone for 4 hours. When finally someone entered the room. It was obviously the “bad cop”. He entered the room, immediately accused me of drug trafficking and proceeded to threaten me with jail time. There I was, sitting in Cuba, them having possession of my bags, my word against theirs (and Spanish is only my 4th language). For 6 more hours we went back and forth over every item in my bags, every picture on my phone, etc etc. Who were my parents? Why was I here? Who is this person in this picture? How do you know them? Where do they live? Where did you buy these shoes? And every fourth or fifth question: do you have any drugs with you? Are you sure? Do you need to go to the bathroom? Do you have any internal pain?
Finally, I just looked at him and said, “let’s just go to the hospital, you can do an ultrasound on me and you will see that I am not carrying anything inside my body.” After letting me know several times that they would “cut me open”, he left the room.
2 more hours passed. Then the door opened. There he stood, my bags by his side, and an armed guard looking over his shoulder. He reached out his hand and said: “I’m sorry to have taken so much of your time, you are free to go. This man will escort you back to the terminal. Enjoy your stay in Cuba”….
I did actually enjoy my stay in Cuba, and I never went back…”
Suggested By: featherlite, Photo Credit: Getty Images
1.) Never Complain About Airports Again
Seriously, you will never complain about any airport ever after you read The Transporter’s story. I certainly won’t.
“Baghdad International Airport, January 2006. Iraq is shitty enough as it is, but getting out is pure hell. It was the end of my cav squadron’s deployment and my platoon got bumped from our flight because everyone in our troop packed too much shit. The weight from the cargo pallets in the rear of the C-130 would have knocked the CG out of limits with my platoon on board. We were supposed to catch the next flight out, but someone else had priority so we got bumped from that flight as well. We ended up getting bumped from flight after flight for FIVE DAYS!
If you thought you were in hell getting stuck overnight in Atlanta Hartsfield then let me take you on a tour of the military terminal at BIAP. Being made by the military, the “terminal” is essentially a complex of gigantic unheated, unair-conditioned tents. At least ATL has walls made of something thicker than fabric with central climate control. Amazingly enough, the terminal had bench seats like you’d find in most international airport, except these seats were the seats that were thrown away by some other respectable airport 20 years ago during a renovation. The padding was long gone and the seat backs felt like they leaned forward. Don’t bother trying to sleep on those benches because they had permanent armrests. Yes, there were cots (this is the military, after all) but the number of cots was far less than the number of people in our platoon and once we started to set them up we realized that there wasn’t enough room in the tent with all of those heavy bench seats taking up all the room.
It’s not like you could get any sleep in that tent, anyway. Every 15 minutes or so (aka right at the point where I would begin to doze off) someone on a PA system cranked up to 12 would announce the pending departure of a flight that we wouldn’t be on. You want to bitch about airport food? Try MREs. The deuce that I dropped a week later had the density of pure neutronium. Speaking of dropping deuces, at least ATL has running water. Portashitters for us. After day 3 I would have loved to take a bath in a sink at ATL.
Let’s see, is there anything else that I forgot? Oh yes, boredom! When you get stuck overnight in ATL, at least you can Instagram your “horrible” experience to your friends. No wifi (obviously) and absolutely no power outlets, so the handful of electronic entertainment devices we had ran out of power within the first few hours. By day 4 our LT was seriously looking into getting us a ride on a southbound convoy and none of us thought this was a particularly bad idea. Running the risk of getting ambushed by IEDs, RPGs, and small arms fire was preferable to spending another day in that shithole.”
Suggested By: The Transporter, Photo Credit: Getty Images
Welcome back to Answers of the Day – our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It’s by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
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