I'm not even a frequent flyer. Maybe I fly five or six times a year. And yet the most curious things happen when I fly.
I'm not talking now about my assistant who orders tomato juice. Or the lady in front of me who wears a shower cap the entire flight. Or the grown-up guy in the next seat who pretends he's sitting in the cockpit, extending the landing gear and controlling the flaps. Nor about the rabble-rousing drunken celebrity who kept getting booze even though he was long over it. Or the toilet where the alarm went off while I was innocently sitting on the john.
No, there are much more blatant things I've randomly experienced in the last few years. Here is my personal top 5.
5. Everyone gone
It is a warm day, 28 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, hardly any wind. My flight Florence - Frankfurt is about to take off. I wait at the gate, because boarding is about to start. Suddenly the display above the gate goes out and the staff walks away quickly. This happens at all gates one after the other. A little later, the board reads "Flight canceled".
There is no announcement and no more staff at the airport. I stand there stupidly. And with me all the other passengers.
After an eternity, someone has figured out that you can get your suitcase back yourself from a back room that is not locked. That's when I get a text message telling me to call the Lufthansa hotline. I did that directly, but they didn't know anything there. Not where the flight is and not how it goes on.
Many hours later I am in Bologna. A friendly Italian organized everything and helped me to rebook. Later Lufthansa writes me that because of severe weather conditions in Florence the flight could not take place.
4. We are in negotiations with them
In Faro, boarding happens very fast. I am surprised and pleased at the same time. The luggage is never stowed so quickly, everything runs like clockwork. Then the doors are closed and we stand for 15 minutes. The electricity is already gone, the ventilation is not running yet.
Then comes the announcement from the cockpit: "We are in negotiations with the tower. We are not allowed to take off or dock back at the gate. The air traffic controllers are about to go on strike. We have 5 minutes to leave the airspace. We try to fly directly to the Spanish border, but we have to get all the permits first because it is a new flight path. If we don't succeed, we will have to wait here in the plane for a few hours."
It was already hot and standing like that longer without ventilation would have been bad. The Lufthansa pilot was top notch! He made it. We took off straight east and managed to escape the strike at the very last minute.
3. Loose contact on a seat
Boarding is already two hours overdue. The friendly stewardesses bring tablets with drinks and reassure us that it's about to start. There would be no power at one seat, and it was regulation that electronics work at each seat. All, well, they take care.
Finally we board the plane. Here comes the pilot's announcement, "We're sorry it took so long. But there was a loose connection in the cockpit here and I didn't have power at my seat."
2. My mother is dead
A quiet flight home from Ibiza. There aren't that many passengers on board, because it's still early season. Then a woman in the row of seats behind me shouts, "My mother is dead, my mother is dead."
I pressed the button to call the flight attendants for help. Inwardly, I feared there would be an unavoidable landing due to a medical emergency.
That's when the stewardess woke up the sleeping mother. Raised from the dead just like that.
1. We crash
On approach to Madeira, the plane turns in a tight curve over the sea. The plane suddenly drops a few meters. Not nice.
For one passenger it was too much. She screamed in panic "We're crashing!" and with such fervor that it could be heard throughout the whole plane. It was a truly panicked scream, so much so that I even got goosebumps.
After a buttery landing by the pilot, I felt a little sorry for the screaming woman.