Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

was a made for TV movie but it might as easily describe these flight attendants' worst airline experiences.

From bodily fluids in the aisles to unusual cargo items, these stories stop just short of the 'gremlin' on the wing of the aircraft seen in the 1963 film.

So strap in and prepare for an uncomfortable reading as cabin crew take to the internet to share their worst experiences on an aircraft.


If you knew, you'd leave your shoes on

"Please do not ever walk into a toilet with bare feet. I promise you, 9 times out of 10, that is not water on the floor," writes Reddit user HausofDarling.

"The toilets are often absolutely disgusting and get deep cleaned only at the end of a route... For us this could be from one side of the world to the other... imagine how lovely they are at the end of a 12 hour flight with 200 people using them."

The air hostess waded into a post named "disturbing secrets that passengers should know" to share this pearl of wisdom, amongst other uncomfortable airlines truths.

When you are told to remain seated, they mean it

"Your safety is our first priority" is the flight attendant's mantra - familiar to most frequent fliers, but there are some exceptions to this rule.

"We are trained in self-defense and to defend the flight deck at all costs. We are extensively trained on how to deal with threats … We have handcuffs on board and will use them," HausofDarling continued.

In the right circumstances, flight attendants have licence to "kick ass". In the United States, the FAA entrusts its flight attendants with the power of the law.

"You can, and probably will, be arrested for disobeying crew instructions," adds the hostie.

Apart from handcuffs, flight attendants have an encyclopedic knowledge of their plane's cabin and everything at their disposal to keep the aircraft airborne.

"There's axes in the cabins of our wide body aircrafts on my airline," wrote Maser_x, reportedly for use of hacking away interior panels in case of electrical fire.

You have been warned.

What lies below:'There is ... a lot of horrific things in the cargo'. Photo / Getty Images
What lies below:'There is ... a lot of horrific things in the cargo'. Photo / Getty Images

Dead heads

As the crew members continued to list the horrors unknown to plane passengers, things took a dark turn.

"There is more often than not a lot of horrific things in the cargo," HausofDarling wrote.

As flying is the quickest way to transport cargo, passengers may be unwittingly sharing their flight with some unusual items.

"Usually the only people who know are the flight deck (pilots) and the Manager/Senior Crew member. Dead bodies, organs, blood are obvious ones but we also carry everything right up to Formula One car parts, exotic animals, marble tables, oversized televisions... everything."

"HUM" is the code for human remains and the cargo most air crew dread, said user Rosiulia who worked in the "booking department" of a long-haul airline.

While there is need for speed when transporting these shipments, the same urgency is not always met when the cargo arrives on the ground.

"When we have these kind of shipments we need to contact the family to make them aware when the plane lands and when to come to pick up the body," explained Rosiulia.

"And guess what… The body arrived in PVG [Shanghai] in time, and no one picked it up for … days."

What's left behind are perhaps the most unpleasant secrets from fellow passengers. Photo /, PassengerShaming
What's left behind are perhaps the most unpleasant secrets from fellow passengers. Photo /, PassengerShaming

Dirty little secrets

Sadly for hosties, it is their living passengers who give them the most grief. The items left behind are perhaps the most unpleasant things kept secret from passengers.

"People are generally disgusting on planes," acknowledged ex-attendant Boopboopster.

"People frequently do disgusting things on their tray tables (I've seen people change diapers, clip toenails and wipe boogers to name a few)" though these discoveries pale in comparison the "human faeces under a seat".

Less of a secret, but to continue the scatological theme, 29-year-old air host PeanutSlinger also shared an unpleasant memory in the forum.

"Had a 21-year-old male come to the back galley, puked all over it twice, then proceeded to projectile vomit on the aircraft door before heading into the lav and then puking again," wrote the

However, this was not her worst moment in the skies.

The hostie recalled how one flight "had to divert because of the stench."

A clogged plane toilet "flooded the lav and soaked into the carpet down the aisle," causing not only alarm but delay to a plane load of overwhelmed passengers. Just spare a thought for those who had to clean it up afterwards.