Best and Worst Airline Stories of 2013

PHOTO: A man was strapped to his seat with duct tape after going on a drunken rampage during an overseas flight.
ABC News

The year began with duct tape.

A man who was so intoxicated on an Iceland Air flight that his fellow passengers were forced to restrain him by duct-taping him to his seat was one of the first major airline stories of 2013. The story, and the photos that accompanied it, were so unbelievable that I hesitated to report it as it began to surface. But it was true.

Let's call duct-taped airline passenger a low point for air travel in 2013. There were others, of course, but there were also some incredible stories of airline service and compassion. Stories so beautiful they brought me to tears.

And then there was the woman escorted off a plane for singing Whitney Houston songs.

Click through the next few pages to see the best and worst of air travel in 2013. And that story that made me cry? It's the last one on the list, and my pick for the very best airline story of 2013.

A cellphone video showed passengers onboard an Iceland Air flight from Reykjavik to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport subduing an unruly passenger by tying him to his seat with duct tape and zip ties after he began screaming and hitting other passengers.

The unidentified passenger allegedly downed an entire bottle of duty-free alcohol, according to a man who posted a photo on his blog, who said the picture was taken by a friend on the flight.

The airline accused the man of accosting and hitting people on the flight. Passengers say he even tried to choke the person next to him and screamed, "The plane is going to crash."

Once in awhile, an airline employee does something that goes above and beyond the call of duty to help a customer. But it's probably safe to assume that none of those employees were the CEO of the airline.

Richard Anderson, Delta's CEO, gave up his seat on an oversold flight, making it possible for Jessie Frank to pick her daughter up from a summer camp for diabetic kids, she said.

Delta's CEO rode in the jump seat instead.

In February, Joe Hundley quickly became the most-hated airline passenger on the Internet after he slapped a baby on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta. In October, he pleaded guilty to a charge of simple assault.

At the time of the incident. Jessica Bennett told ABC News she was sitting with her son and Hundley, who was a stranger to her, in Row 28 of a Delta Airlines flight.

"Jonah starts crying because he's feeling the pressure in his ears," Bennett said.

At that point, Hundley, according to court documents, told Bennett to "Shut that [n-word] baby up."

"I said, 'What did you just say?'" Bennett said. "And he was so drunk that he fell onto my face, and his mouth moved over to my ear and he said it, just directly into my ear."

Hundley then allegedly smacked Jonah, according to Bennett.

"When I had looked at Jonah's face ... his eye was swollen ... and it was bleeding," Bennett said. "I was just scared to death." Read more here.

A flight delay nearly cost a man the chance to see his dying mother one last time. But on Jan. 24, employees at United Airlines didn't let that happen.

Kerry Drake's mother was dying. As first reported on, his brother called him to say the time had come. Drake caught the next flight -- UA 667, the airline told ABC News -- from San Francisco to Lubbock, Texas, with a short 40-minute layover in Houston. The flight from Houston to Lubbock was the last flight that day. He knew it was a risk, but he needed to get to his mother as soon as possible.

But the first leg of the flight was delayed because of weather in Boston, where the aircraft was coming from, the airline said. Read the rest of the story here.

A woman was forcibly removed from a US Airways flight in June for refusing to comply with flight crew instructions. The flight, US Airways 906, was bound for Charlotte, N.C., from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. According to a report obtained by ABC News from the Broward County Sheriff's Office, passenger Lindsay Bien-aime refused to comply with a flight attendant's instructions before takeoff and "became unruly." The pilot ordered the woman off the plane. Despite orders from Broward County officers who had boarded the flight, Bien-aime "continued to refuse to exit the plane" and "became irate, screaming and yelling profanities."

According to Broward County court documents, Bien-aime has not yet entered a plea. There is a hearing scheduled for April 2014.

On a four-minute profanity-laced video posted to YouTube, a woman is heard shouting not only at the officers trying to remove her from the flight but at the passengers around her.

"I will hold up this whole [expletive] plane, the woman can be heard saying. "I don't care where people gotta go." Find out what happened next.

A 31-year old woman on a flight from Russia to Armenia gave birth to a baby girl two hours before the plane was scheduled to land. According to reports, the entire crew assisted in delivering the baby. But Asmik Gevondyan, the flight attendant who helped organize the delivery, was the one for whom the baby was named.

An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing when a female passenger refused to stop singing Whitney Houston songs. AA Flight No. 4 was en route from Los Angles to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 9 when, according to the airline, the flight was diverted to Kansas City because of a "very unruly passenger."

A video of the woman being escorted off the plane showed her belting out "I Will Always Love You" as at least two uniformed officers accompanied her off the plane.

Cole Holzer, a 7-year-old boy from Casselton, N.D., not only lost his dad but also lost his most prized possession -- his father's shirt -- on a March 27 Delta flight from Fargo to San Diego. In the rush to leave the plane when it landed, the shirt was left behind. The family didn't realize it until they were driving away from the airport.

A family friend took it upon herself to contact the airline through 800 numbers and social media. A Delta pilot saw the Facebook post and contacted the gate. Meanwhile, another Delta employee in lost and found began checking with the cleaning crew. Under orders to "find the daddy shirt" Delta airline employees went so far as to dig through the garbage.

They found the daddy shirt. Read the entire heartwarming story here.

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