Travel Nightmares: Don't' Get Stuck Next to This Guy

From overweight to drunk passengers we look at the worst flights to be stuck on.

Dec. 22, 2009— -- Millions of travelers are expected to take to the skies this week for Christmas and New Year's vacations. For most, everything will go smoothly.

But for a small group, the trip will turn out to be a nightmare. And it has nothing to do with weather delays or bad airline food.

These few unlucky travelers will have the unfortunate luck of being stuck for hours next to somebody with maybe bad body odor, or somebody who is too fat to fit in their seat or maybe that person who just won't shut up no matter what you do.

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In the spirit of sharing, we asked readers to share their worst travel stories, and a few of the most unfortunate are listed below.

Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Don't Offend the Fat Guy

James Miles, of The Woodlands, Texas, encountered a passenger who might have been better of purchasing two seats on a flight from Newark to Houston.

"A huge fellow pushed his way through everyone and boarded first with the gate agent's approval. Sure enough, when my wife and I got to our assigned seats, there he was, right in 19A with us in 19B and 19C. Needless to say: My wife had no room because his guy had lifted the arm rest and proceeded to encroach into 19B," Miles said.

So what do you in this situation? Miles sought out the flight attendant who asked Miles to be quiet so "I don't offend him."

"After some yelling and several threats the flight attendant started moving people around until she found a small child traveling with his parents to set next to this guy," Miles recalled. "My wife and I were split up and the small boy's parents were also moved to give 'the fat guy' a seat and a half."

Miserable Flights Home

Threatening to Throw Up

Jason Jacobson, of Minneapolis, was on a Northwest flight home from Paris about 14 years ago when a fellow flier decided to ignore the no smoking sign.

"But I remember like it was yesterday," he said. "Shortly after take-off a British man across the aisle from me pulled a cigarette out of his pocket. The man on the other side of him gently said, 'You can't smoke on this flight; I already asked.'"

But it didn't end there. The smoker explained to a flight attendant that he had purchased his ticket with KLM, which is a codeshare partner with Northwest and back in the day KLM still allowed smoking on flights. But as a U.S. airline, smoking was prohibited on Northwest.

"He then got quite angry, and asked her how she'd like it if he got drunk and threw-up all over the aisle. Would she prefer cleaning that up to smelling cigarette smoke? She calmly reminded him that she did not make the rule and that he simply could not smoke," Jacobson recalled.

The smoker however didn't quite give up there. He ordered a drink, drank it and after a while, pulled his pack of cigarettes out again. He then put an entire cigarette in his mouth and formed a little, crude wad of chew in his lip and spat in his empty drink cup. He repeated this until the pack of cigarettes was gone.

"By the end of the flight, the cup was filled to the rim with brown spit/chewed up cigarettes," Jacobson said. "He hid it from final trash collection, and then inserted it into the air sickness bag, sealed the bag, squeezed the bag so as to break the plastic cup on the inside, and then inserted the flattened bag back inside the seat back between the in-flight magazines."

Extreme Bad Parenting

We got not one but two stories from Cheryl Zandt of Washington, D.C., who couldn't decide which one was worse.

First she recalls the flight to Chicago on which the man seated next to her loudly told 'your mama' jokes on his mobile phone long after the notice had been given to turn off all electronic devices.

"He shushed the flight attendant and then acted sulky when she finally made him turn off his phone, then immediately sneaked it back on and placed another call as we began to taxi," Zandt said.

He eventually ended the calls but started to drink and then wanted to chat.

"I tried to appear absorbed in my book, but he kept trying to engage me in conversation about how popular he was with the models he hired for work," Zandt said.

Zandt's other nightmare travel story involved a short hop from Washington to Philadelphia. A woman was traveling with two agitated small children.

"They quickly settled down though, only to be riled up by their mother with shrill snippets of lame songs, guessing games, offers of snacks, etc.," Zandt said. "Every time they settled down, she would start again. We and everyone around us just kept thinking, 'Will you just leave your kids (and the rest of us) in peace! This is a short flight and does not need to be an `experience' for them.'"

They Let This Guy on the Airplane?

Have You Heard of a Shower?

If there is one place you don't want to re-circulated air, it's on a plane, as Kitty Conrad, of Roswell, Ga., found on a few years back while flying to Hawaii.

Conrad was seated in the window seat, next to a man apparently hadn't brushed his teeth or bathed in a couple of weeks, by her estimate.

"To tolerate the smell, I had to stay turned toward the window and lean against the wall of the plane for the whole flight," Conrad said. "My neck was locked in place, crooked, by the time we got to Honolulu, and I had to find (and pay) a chiropractor to relieve the pain that nearly ruined my trip to paradise."

Thanks for Invading My Space

It's nice when people travel with friends. That is unless you are Doug Smart of Roswell, Ga., and you are stuck in the middle seat between then.

"I offered to swap with either of them, which would give me either the aisle or window. But they both said no," Smart said. "One added: `Why would I want to sit in the middle? It's too uncomfortable.' Then for four hours, whenever they wanted to talk with each other, they both leaned forward and toward each other to be heard -- with me sandwiched in the middle."

After a while Smart did what any other creative passenger would think to do.

"I thought to take out my newspaper and read it, holding it higher than I had to, to block their sight line to each other," he said.

Silent Flight

Tom Bostaph, of Winter Springs, Fla., got a special kind of in-flight entertainment when he traveled from California to Orlando -- a choral group heading to Florida for a competition.

"They decided to practice their songs in flight," Bostaph said. "No one could sleep, or do any sort of work as they were positioned throughout the plane. I complained to the flight attendant, who did nothing. After almost four hours of the nightmare, I stood up and shouted, 'shut up!' People started clapping, but the flight attendant came over to reprimand me. The singers stayed quiet until we landed, then sang until we reached the gate."

What a Bad Flight

The Vomit Comet

Sometimes when stuck on a bad flight, you realize it can't be as bad as what you have already been through. Karl Yoder of Sacramento, Calif., recalled a bad flight his wife once had from London to Nairobi, in which she was trapped in the window seat, next to a very drunk Russian man.

"After settling down after takeoff, he evidently started getting nauseous and took out the little bag, but didn't know how it worked, so he undid the closed end -- basically turning it into a little paper tube, then proceeded to throw up through the tube into his own lap," Yoder said. "The flight was completely full, and the flight attendants apologized profusely to my wife, but she spent the next eight hours sitting next to the Russian guy with a lap full of vomit."

The man, of course, passed out and slept the rest of the flight.

The Seat Kicker

Kathy Syregelas, of Westchester, Ill., was about an hour or so into a flight to Chicago from Germany with her mother, when the woman behind her mother began kicking and telling her to move the chair up because it was hurting her knees.

"Every time my mom would push her seat back, this woman started kicking her even worse to the point where she started swearing and fighting with our whole family that was on board. The flight attendants all came running because they heard her screaming and fighting with us," Syregelas said. "They asked her nicely to stop and that my mom has the right to recline her chair and she didn't care to hear that. So the flight attendant told her if she didn't stop that they were going to have the plane turned around and take her to jail and get a huge fine."