The Strangest Reasons for Flight Delays

By: Freelance Contributor
Getty Images / Justin Paget Photography Ltd

After a recent incident where a British Airways flight traveling from London to Dubai had to return to Heathrow Airport shortly after take-off because of a ‘foul smell’ from one of the toilets, we decided to take a closer look and find out what other bizarre occurrences have resulted in planes being delayed, re-routed or otherwise detoured from their planned travel routes. The findings are ‘out there’ to say the least and include everything from animals on board to food incidents to irrational behavior from the crew.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these most peculiar airline incidents from recent years:


Not My Size

Getty Images / Copyright Dazeley

An Australian couple who was traveling first class onboard a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne caused a 30-minute delay of the flight after they refused to fly unless the airline provided them pajamas in the right size. The Daily Mail reported that after they were not provided with the requested extra-large pj’s, they demanded to leave the plane and were walked back to the terminal to wait for the next flight.

Crew Gone Crazy

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In March of 2012 CNN reported that a flight attendant for American Airlines caused major drama at Dallas Airport after some irrational behavior onboard a plane headed for Chicago. The flight attendant first got confused about where she was, asking passengers if they were in Houston, she then came on the PA system advising of a mechanical issue with the plane, which was followed up by another flight attendant assuring everyone that nothing was wrong. Things got much worse after she came back on the PA ranting about how she was no longer responsible for their safety and that the plane was going to crash. The hysteric crew member had to be restrained by 5 people and the plane had to return to its gate so she could be removed, resulting in a delay of about an hour.

Piggly Wiggly

Happy pig eating gras
Getty Images / © 2008 Jörg Prigge

In November of 2014, the NY Post reported that a Connecticut flight was delayed after passengers became angry about an ‘emotional support animal’ brought on board by one woman. The woman had brought a 70 lb potbelly pig with her on the plane and passengers reported that the animal was pacing up and down the aisle and even ‘stinking up the plane’. The woman and her four-legged friend were asked to leave the plane as a result of the complaints from other passengers.

You’re Nuts

Macadamia nuts in bowl over black background.
Getty Images / © Flavia Morlachetti

In December of 2014, 250 passengers aboard a Korean Air flight at New York’s JFK Airport were delayed about 30 minutes after the company’s own senior VP caused a major disturbance. Reportedly, the VP who was sitting in first class was served some macadamia nuts in a bag. Seems harmless right? Well, the correct procedure for the service in first-class instructs these nuts should have been served in a bowl, not the bag. The irate woman began screaming at this mistake and demanded that the plane turn around and the flight attendant be removed before they could take off. The VP initially got her way as the flight attendant was removed from the flight after returning to the gate, but once this story made news the VP was forced to resign and was criminally charged with obstructing aviation safety law.


Got Any Spare Change?

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An Air France flight asked passengers for whatever cash they could give after their flight headed for Beirut was re-directed to Damascus due to civil unrest in the Lebanese capital city. Reuters reported the incident which occurred in August of 2012, involved the plane being forced to land in Damascus and after refueling the plane, Syrian authorities refused credit card payment for the fuel. At first passengers aboard the flight were asked to gather their cash in order to pay for the re-fueling causing a delay, however in the end alternate payment arrangements were made. Air France has since stopped flights to Syria due to increased fighting in the country and a breakdown of relations.

Rowdy Reptiles

Photograph of Indian cobra. It spreads its hood to show threat. Its also know by name spectacled cobra. The snake is very poisonous. Indian cobra (Naja naja) also known as Asian cobra or spectacled cobra is a species of the genus Naja found in the Indian subcontinent.
Getty Images / Rithwik Photography

In December of 2012, there were snakes on a plane. Literally. An EgyptAir flight headed from Cairo to Kuwait had to make an emergency landing in the resort town of Al Ghardaqa after a passenger was bitten by a venomous Egyptian Cobra that he had smuggled on board in his carry-on luggage. CNN reported that after biting the man in the hand, the snake got loose and began slithering under the seats. This isn’t the only reptile related issue, however; San Juan airport in Puerto Rico has had regular delays or re-routing of planes due to giant iguanas on the runway. Any run-ins with the big beasts could cause serious damage or injury as they’re reported to grow up to 6 feet