Flight Passengers Capture What No One Was Supposed to See
From mysterious flying objects to real-life snakes on a plane, here are some of the craziest things caught by flight passengers.Entertainment
They say that life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. But you can never predict just how crazy some journeys can be, especially those that take you 30,000 feet in the air. From mysterious flying objects to real-life snakes on a plane, get ready for take-off as we fly through some of the craziest things caught by flight passengers.
Plane Engine Falls Apart Mid-Flight
When you stop to think about it, airplanes really are unbelievably amazing pieces of machinery. However, some flight passengers have gotten a much closer insight into the inner workings of the aircraft than they were supposed to see.
Shortly after take-off, passengers onboard an AirTran flight from Atlanta to Orlando on 13th July 2004 got a literal look at the inside of one of the jet engines! The photo below was taken from a window seat onboard and as scary as it may look to the average flight passenger, it isn’t necessarily a recipe for catastrophe.
A jet engine can actually continue functioning normally even after losing these outer panels, known as fan cowl doors, which only serve to provide an aerodynamic cover to the machinery underneath, and are usually only opened for maintenance. In this case, their locks failed and the whole thing blew right off!
But, in fact, in a situation like this, the most dangerous part is the possibility of pieces of the ripped off fan cowl-doors posing a hazard in the form of falling debris, which is exactly what went wrong on a much more recent flight.
Everything seemed normal and routine when United Airlines flight 328 took off from Denver towards Hawaii on February 20th, 2021. But just an hour into the flight, as the aircraft was passing over Broomfield, Colorado, passengers looked out of the window to the sight of one engine on fire.
Not exactly the jet setting dreams these passengers were hoping for, this was a rare occurrence of jet engine failure. Down on the ground, debris was landing everywhere, from grassy roadsides to residents’ front yards.
Miraculously, no injuries were reported in relation to the incident, and, given that most planes are designed to function with upwards of one engine out of action, the plane was able to land safely.
An investigation into what caused the engine failure revealed that one of the engine’s fans was to blame. One of the internal fan blades completely broke off due to wear-and-tear of the metal over time, clogging the engine and causing it to explode with flame, shearing off portions to the ground below.
This particular aircraft had been in service for 26 years and while the average commercial airliner in the US is eleven years old, planes are usually operational for about 30 years before being retired to aeronautical heaven.
While wear-and-tear should be checked for thoroughly, sometimes issues slip through, so let’s just hope any planes out there with similar looming dangers go into early retirement!
Pilots Fighting In Cockpit
While springing for a private jet should make for a more luxurious ride, it doesn’t necessarily make it a safer one. You’d think a private jet would also get you the best and most professional pilots money can buy. But think again.
A cockpit clash was filmed on the private jet of none other than the all-star rapper 2chainz, who noticed the two pilots having some kind of disagreement. The two were forced to take their conversation to the runway in a disconcerting display that was far from model pilot behavior and isn’t something passengers, let alone celebrity passengers, are supposed to see.
It later turns out that all this backhanded bickering was all over a bathroom break. The captain had been refusing to let his co-pilot use the bathroom before taking off which would have involved a time-consuming trip back to the airport.
Despite their luxury price tag, many private jets don’t have a bathroom onboard, especially lighter aircraft used for domestic flights lasting between one-and-a-half to two hours. While it’s unclear exactly where 2chainz was headed, we can assume that either there wasn’t a bathroom on this particular jet, or that the pilots weren’t allowed to use the same bathroom as their celebrity client!
Giant Tarantula Lurking In Plane Cabin
Also known as aviophobia, around 40% of the general population report some fear of flying, and while one fear is bad enough, some fearing fliers have found themselves dealing with a number of other phobias onboard.
Airplane cabins are one of the last places you’d expect to be confronted with creepy crawlies, but alas, aviophobics and arachnophobics on one flight were faced with a double-bubble phobia-party when a tarantula was found mid-flight.
While details around how this eight-legged creep found itself on an airplane remain a mystery, it’s likely that it was unintentionally brought onboard by an unwitting passenger. And if the thought of unknowingly carrying an eight-legged horror onto an airplane is making you itch, this wasn't the only case of terrifying creatures captured in airplane cabins.
Flight passengers onboard a Ravn Alaska plane traveling between Aniak and Anchorage in March 2017 were left stunned after being told there was a rather nefarious fellow passenger among them.
It all started when a little boy onboard noticed something odd while clambering around between empty seats. At first all he could see was a bright yellow duffle bag wedged beneath a seat near the back of the plane. However, upon closer inspection, the little seat-surfer noticed that there was something else tucked in next to the duffle bag: it was a snake!
While the thought of being stuck on an airplane with a reptile on board is enough to make your skin crawl, the snake was actually in the middle of a harmless mid-flight snooze when it was discovered.
Regardless, the task of extracting the slumbering snake was a daunting one for cabin crew members. In the end, one flight attendant bravely removed the snake from its cozy corner, lifting it out with her bare hands!
Out of its duffle-den, the snake looked to be between four to five feet long and while its species went unreported, it turned out this slippery fellow had been left behind by a passenger from a previous flight! They’d snuck their pet in for the journey, and only when they got home had they realized their reptile was missing, and reported it to the airline!
In a similar case, passengers aboard an Aeromexico flight from Torreon to Mexico City lived out their very own Hollywood nightmare a la 2006’s ‘Snakes on A Plane’, when a venomous snake suddenly slithered out from behind an overhead luggage compartment.
Passengers just about had time to unbuckle and move out of the way before the snake wiggled free from the crack and fell down between the seats.
After the pilot alerted air traffic control, the plane was given priority landing at Mexico City Airport where it touched down just ten minutes later, and the snake was taken away by animal services.
As for how the snake ended up on board, it’s unclear whether Aeromexico ever unraveled the mystery. After the incident, Aeromexico did make a public statement at the time that they were implementing extra measures to avoid any future serpentine stowaways.
Airplanes and UFO Sightings
There’s no doubt that the best inflight entertainment comes from gazing out the window and watching the world go by. But what would you do if you saw something like the gray trail in the image below? It was taken from a clip shot by flight passenger and TikToker Zoe Montoya on a flight from Las Vegas to Tulsa on February 6th, 2022.
Aside from the usual claims of aliens, demons, and flying spaghetti monsters, folks have pointed to contrails, short for condensation trails, as the explanation for the undeniably creepy footage. Contrails are largely composed of water particles in the form of ice crystals that are emitted from a flying airplane, either from engine exhaust or from changes in air pressure.
While contrails are usually observed as white streaks against the sky, there is evidence that color changes can occur depending on the time of day and position of the sun as seen in the photo below. Similarly, a damaged aircraft could simply be emitting black smoke in Zoe Montoya's clip.
TikTok user MATT Derogatory left a comment in the now private video, claiming that he’d also seen something very similar when flying to Florida. Thankfully Matt had their very own airplane expert in the seat right next to them, their mom, who so happened to be a pilot herself and confirmed them to be contrails of a faraway plane.
As well as being supported by a pilot, the shadowed contrails hypothesis does make a lot of sense, as is also true with this clip of yet another unidentified flyby captured in March 2019.
While this may initially look like a sky walking demon, complete with long shapeshifting legs, these two separate streams could indeed be contrails coming from the jets of a distant aircraft.
As for the aircraft itself, it’s possible that the brightness of the sky simply overwhelmed the camera’s sensor and image-processing, preventing it correctly displaying the relatively low-contrast image of the plane itself, only picking up the high contrast darkness of the trial left behind.
Of course, the other explanation for the unidentified flying object could be a little more out of this world. Some people may not think it’s a coincidence that the infamous Area 51 is situated just around 100 miles from Zoe Montoya’s aerial encounter.
While the idea that this is an alien spaceship, or even just an experimental aircraft, might seem far-fetched, it wouldn’t be the only time people have been convinced of similar ideas by photos and videos online. Like this one posted to YouTube channel UFO section 51 in August 2018.
While some people were certain this was a real UFO spotted outside a plane’s window, the image was eventually revealed to have been fabricated by a special effects team. However, no such revelation has been made for either Zoe Montoya’s or other clips we've discussed here.
Planes Flying Side By Side
While those cases of UFOs are still up for debate, there’s really no question of what’s flying alongside the aircraft in the footage below.
If you thought you could escape traffic jams 40,000 feet in the air, think again. Thankfully, this seemingly impending crash isn’t all that it seems.
TV and video commercials are very important to airlines, but have you ever wondered exactly how they make their fantastical ads? While touch ups do occur in post-production, the raw footage is often shot in real life, in the air, and that’s exactly what’s going on there.
Wolfe Air is an aviation photography company that specializes in filming airplanes in flight for movies, commercials and beyond. For filming, Wolfe Air will use a high-speed jet aircraft like the Learjet 25B which are purpose built for filming, with cameras attached to their outsides.
These external cameras are controlled by camera operators on the inside, who are able to watch the footage in real time to ensure the very best shots. The logistics behind shooting impressive footage like this are incredibly tricky, and companies like Wolfe Air will meet with pilots to plan out exactly what the best flight pattern is to get the shots they want in a safe way.
The two planes will take off and fly in tandem and get way too close for comfort for some specialist closeup shots like this shoot for an Air Canada’s Rouge fleet commercial. While most screen stars find their home on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, these aeronautical video buffs are shooting straight for the heavens.
Passengers Covering Themselves In Plastic Bags
Picture this: you’ve made it through the agonizing lines at security, battled your way through duty free and finally found your assigned seat, only to turn around to find a man inside a plastic bag next to you.
While you might be wondering why the fellow passengers in the image below aren’t cringing away in horror at the sitting dead, this is not the inflight fatality it looks like. This passgenger is very much alive, he’s just chosen to wrap himself up in a giant plastic bag, but why?
In the Haredi Jewish faith, those of priestly descent, known as kohens, are forbidden to enter cemeteries, as a means to prevent tainting their purity by avoiding contact with the dead. In Jewish law, it states that kohens are prohibited from coming within approximately six feet of a tombstone unless they’re separated by a fence of at least 3 feet high.
But what has this got to do with airplanes? These rules around cemeteries aren’t just at ground level, they extend all the way up to the heavens. This means that when a kohen flies and the flight path is set to pass over a cemetery, he is at risk of betraying his religious obligations.
The problem arose when a pilot for the airline El Al Israel informed his rabbi that the company’s planes sometimes fly over cemeteries around the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. The city features many gravesites on its outskirts, and it even has a sky-rise cemetery which was built in 2014 to cope with overfilled graveyards.
In response to the potential growing issue of flying over cemeteries on trips out of the country, Haredi rabbis decreed that wrapping oneself in thick plastic while the plane crossed over any cemetery was the only solution for preventing sin. After news of this spread in 2001, airlines such as El Al Israel began receiving requests from passengers wanting to be wrapped in plastic for flights.
Despite wishing to uphold religious sensitivities, El Al couldn’t ignore the fact that plastic wrapped passengers could be cause for some serious safety concerns, including their inability to access an oxygen mask or move around in an emergency. Not to mention the fact that plastic tends to be pretty hard to breathe through in itself!
So, in 2001, the airline was forced to enact a ban on any passenger attempting to bring plastic body bags onboard. Therefore, that particular image is assumed to have been taken in the early 2000s, prior to the ban being put in place by airlines.
Since then, El Al airlines have taken precautions to ensure that flight paths never cross cemeteries and that the only things in bags onboard their aircrafts are peanuts and pretzels, not priests.
Emotional Support Animals On Planes
If you’re an animal lover, then you’ll know the worst part of going on vacation is the heartbreak of having to leave your pets behind. But for some people, animals are more than just pets, they’re essential for travel.
While a first glance at the picture below might have your brain screaming with signals of shenanigans and fakery, this is in fact very much real. This flight passenger is Jodie Smalley of Seattle, Washington, and it’s safe to say that she doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers with her very unique traveling companion, Easter, the 25-pound turkey.
After losing her husband in 2015, Easter was Jodie’s main source of comfort, and she takes her everywhere, even on airplanes! These inflight snaps were taken when Easter accompanied Jodie on a trip to San Francisco where she planned to spread her husband’s ashes in 2016.
Easter is classified as an emotional support animal, which is supposed to be used as part of an emotional therapeutic treatment program. Legally, they are not considered the same as service animals such as seeing eye dogs and seizure response dogs, but they can be equally important for some people’s quality of life.
While stories like Jodie’s are heart-warming, it seems as though other travelers have started wising up to a loophole in this system. Most airlines charge a hefty fee to passengers wanting to bring their small pets to travel with them inside the cabin, but under the Air Carriers Access Act, airlines are prohibited from charging a fee for emotional support animals.
Suddenly, all sorts of ‘emotional support animals’ were turning up on airplanes, from ordinary pet dogs, to pigs, to horses! Things were clearly getting a little out of control, and flight crew were often left dealing with untrained animals in the cabin area.
In December 2020, the US Department of Transportation announced that airlines were no longer required to allow emotional support animals on board their flights but would still permit service dogs in aid of a disabled passenger. So, the next time you get on a flight you won’t have to worry about any wild animals in the seat next to you. Well, aside from that one dude getting crazy with the mini bottles of wine.
Passenger Duct-Taped To Seat
When Maxwell Berry boarded a flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31st, 2021, little did he know just how much trouble he was about to get himself into. Take a look at how he ended up in the clip below.
Tied up, shouting, while being laughed at by your fellow flyers, no flight is complete without that holy trinity. But how did we get here? The trouble started when Max decided to get sloshed during his three-hour flight. He began acting in a way that can only be described as a rather ungentlemanly.
After getting into a physical altercation with a flight attendant and making inappropriate advances on two other crew members, enough was enough. He spent the rest of the flight duct taped to his seat, screaming in a drunken stupor.
Obviously restraining passengers isn’t exactly a good look for airliners, so when it does happen you know it’s something that other passengers aren’t really supposed to witness. While taping someone to a seat and covering their mouth might seem a little extreme, the problem with air travel is that the crew can’t very well remove dangerous passengers from the plane, but what they can do is restrain them.
Flight attendants undergo intensive training in de-escalation, but if action needs to be taken, many airlines will legally have their crews’ backs if they need to restrain someone. Some airlines have restraint cuffs onboard, but according to one flight attendant, the airline provides tape for crew to restrain Max.
While some of his fellow passengers found Max’s antics amusing, this flight felon ended up being sentenced to 60 days in the slammer for his shenanigans. I wonder if he tried the same freedom-seeking tactics in jail?
Plane Window Cracks Mid-Flight
The window seat can be the best place to be on a plane for the sights, but what about in an emergency? One window seat passenger on board a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Newark in 2018 got the fright of their life when the window inexplicably cracked before their eyes.
The pilot made the quick decision to land the plane within about 15 minutes to prevent the window from fully shattering and depressurizing the cabin. But what would have happened if the window had fully broken while flying out in the middle of the ocean, where the pilot had no means of landing?
In an airplane, the cabin’s air pressure is much greater than the air pressure outside of the plane, so well-fortified windows are essential in maintaining comfortable breathing conditions for those onboard.
Our lungs are accustomed to working at air pressures of around 14.7 pounds per square inch, which is the typical pressure at sea level. The higher you travel, the more spread out these air molecules become, and by the time you get to between 30,000 and 40,000 feet, the altitude an airplane flies at, that air pressure plummets down to a measly 4 pounds per square inch.
If you tried to breathe at that level of altitude in the open air, it would take less than a minute for you to lose consciousness due to the lack of oxygen. Thanks to the power of aeronautical engineering, an airplane’s pressurization system keeps the interior cabin pressure between 12 and 11 psi.
If you’re wondering why airplane cabins don’t try to achieve the 14.7 PSI pressure levels we’re used to, it’s because aircraft design must consider the difference between air pressure inside and outside. If the differential pressure limit is exceeded, it would lead to the same thing that happens to a balloon when it’s overinflated.
With all this hanging in the balance, there’s a lot of pressure resting on the aircraft’s windows, if you’ll pardon the pun. A window fully being blown out is unlikely, as each has multiple layers of glass and plastic panes, so as to provide additional support in the event of a crack.
However, in the event a plane window does fully shatter, forming a direct hole to the outside, oxygen masks quickly drop from the cabin ceiling. Without these, passengers on board would quickly begin to suffocate.
A broken plane window at altitude would also, more immediately, cause the air inside the cabin to rush out at a rapid rate, causing smaller objects to be carried away through the hole. The force of rushing air can sometimes even be enough to suck heavier objects out, like people.
Those not sucked out into the sky would have to breathe through their oxygen masks as they wait for the pilot to descend to an altitude with a more reasonable air pressure, and eventually land. However, depressurization emergencies on airplanes are extremely rare, and airplane windows have been reported to account for as little as 2.7% of all pressurization failure incidents.
Koala Takes Own Seat In Cabin
Flying first class on an airplane is something you’ll find on bucket lists all over the world. While most of us would have to save up quite the pretty penny to make our first class dreams a reality, four lucky souls got a taste of the high life for free!
Four koalas named Paddle, Pellita, Chan and Idalia traveled from Brisbane, Australia to Singapore in April 2015 as a gift to celebrate Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence. These Ozzy Aviators lapped up their new life of luxury in their very own seats with all the leg room they’d never need as well as unlimited cans of Schweppes.
While these snaps make it look like the koalas spent the 8-hour flight from Brisbane to Singapore zoo being served hot towels and eucalyptus, the reality is that these shots were taken way before take-off. The koalas spent the flight in the aircraft hold as per airline regulations for wild animals.
While they may be one of Australia’s cutest exports, these marsupials were declared officially endangered in February 2022. The gift of the koala quartet was made not only in an effort to strengthen diplomatic relations, but also with hopes of starting and sustaining a Singaporean koala colony over time.
If you were amazed at these crazy things spotted by flight passengers, you might want to read this article about secrets flight attendants never tell us. Thanks for reading!