6 Times Flight Attendants Behaved Badly and Ruined Flying for Everyone

Flight attendants: airborne humans depend on them for the delivery of mediocre food, uncomfortable headphones, and permission to switch seats. As we are reminded periodically, though, these faithful servants of the skies are just as vulnerable to bad days as us, and are completely capable of turning a routine route into a devastating delay. Case in point: the Endeavor Air flight attendant who was caught stealing 1500 50-ml bottles of liquor from her airplane. In her honor, we look at six times flight attendants just couldn’t hang—and passengers paid the price.  

  • 01 of 06

    The Premature Evacuation

    Open door of airplane
    Steven Slater's impromptu exit catapulted him into fame. fStop Images/Getty Images

    Now national hero Steven Slater reached the end of his rope in August 2010, when two passengers on JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to JFK involved him in an altercation regarding overhead storage space. When one of the passengers cursed him out after landing, Slater responded by doing what every single fed-up attendant probably dreams of doing: he grabbed a beer, addressed the entire plane over the PA system, and deployed and utilized the plane’s inflatable evacuation slide. (We hope he followed the aisle lights to the nearest exit and left any sharp objects inside the plane.)

    Unfortunately, pretty much no airline VIPs found Slater’s stunt amusing. Slater was suspended following the incident and later resigned. He took to writing a memoir “dedicated to overworked flight attendants everywhere.” We’d read it. Throughout his legal battles, more than 20,000 dedicated fans supported Slater in a Facebook group called “Free Steven Slater

    His last words over the air before departing?...MORE "Those of you who have shown dignity and respect these last 20 years, thanks for a great ride." No, thank you, Steven. Thank you.

  • 02 of 06

    The Pre-Flight Meltdown

    Before American Airlines flight 2332 between Dallas Fort Worth and Chicago could take off on March 9th, 2012, one female flight attendant took over the  plane’s PA system, making comments about the plane potentially crashing, her company’s recent bankruptcy, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the plane’s passengers. Passengers heard her yell, “Somebody call 9-1-1 security because I’m about to kill passengers before takeoff!” before volunteers restrained the attendant, removed her from the flight, and sent her to the hospital.

    American Airlines referred to the incident as a medical issue in a statement, and one bystander said the attendant referred to herself as bipolar. The cabin crew was replaced after the scuffle, and the flight eventually departed. “Our customers were not in danger at any time” American Airlines said, though the incident was no doubt terrifying for all involved. Multiple passengers put in calls to 911 as the woman’s screams echoed throughout the plane’s cabin.

  • 03 of 06

    The No Booze at Cruising Altitude

    Collection of alcohol nip bottles
    Bill Boch/Getty Images

    The one security blanket we have left in air is the comfort of an in-flight cocktail—unless flight attendant Rachel Trevor of regional Delta affiliate Endeavor Air was on board. ABC reports that Trevor was indicted in May for pilfering almost 1500 50-ml bottles of liquor from the aircraft she worked on and subsequently selling them on Craigslist for $1 per bottle. The minis sell for around $8 onboard, which, frankly, turns Trevor’s sales pitch into the deal of a lifetime.

    The enterprising attendant faces charges including theft and unlawful sale of alcohol. Trevor also lost her job at Endeavor. We might need to take her up on her offer just to make it through this summer’s excruciatingly long TSA lines.

  • 04 of 06

    The Random Screening Drug Bust

    In a drug smuggling attempt gone wrong this March, an unidentified flight attendant abandoned her shoes and luggage when pulled over for a random TSA screening at LAX Terminal 4 at a “known crew member” access point. The woman’s actions probably seemed strange to onlookers, but further examination of her bags by police uncovered 30 kilograms of cocaine, making her dash for the exit completely understandable and logical.

    Even stranger? Since her sprint down an up-bound escalator, the woman has not been identified or captured, according to ABC’s sources. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    The Bathroom Blow-Up

    Airplane lavatory/toilet
    Stuart Dee/Getty Images

    The air pressure changes (and questionable catering) of air travel mean that an upset stomach is pretty much a given on every flight. And the only thing that can make a lengthy airplane lavatory stint worse is having to hide your issues from fellow fliers waiting outside of that accordion door.

    That’s exactly what happened to one flier on Southwest Airlines in 2012. The passenger, referred to only as Megan S. (for obvious reasons) was handling an urgent stomach situation onboard when she heard two male flight attendants laughing about her outside the plane’s restroom. “They were spraying something that appeared to be air freshener of sanitizer while making nasty remarks at me,” Megan told USA Today in 2013. Upon receiving her official complaint, Southwest Airlines replied that they could not compensate Megan for the rudeness of their employees.

  • 06 of 06

    The Thanksgiving Air Marshal Attack

    Most passengers on board were probably dreaming of turkey and stuffing during a November 2015 American Airlines from Frankfurt, Germany to Charlotte, N.C., but flight attendant Joanne Snow was too busy trying to bust open the taxiing aircraft’s door and assaulting other cabin crew members (including two air marshals) to be concerned with such trivial things.

    Other members of the cabin crew reported Snow’s erratic behavior before the plane’s initial take-off in Charlotte and requested that she be removed from the flight, but that request was not granted and things deteriorated over the two trans-Atlantic legs to follow. Snow attempted to bypass a passport officer on landing in Charlotte, and continued her physical assault on air marshal Joseph Fialka as he handcuffed her and escorted her to an interview room. She was eventually arrested and brought up on multiple charges.