"I was at the airport one day, waiting for my girlfriend to come pick me after my flight. She was about 20 minutes away, so I sat down on a window ledge, and like normal, there were various airport employees, security people, and passengers wandering around.
After about five minutes, I noticed a couple cops with a dog eyeing me. They go to walk by, and all of a sudden, the dog got close to me and sat down. The cops gave me an intense look and reached under the ledge where I was sitting.
All of a sudden, they pulled out a bag with a few grams of a certain illegal substance in it. This was not mine, and I started freaking out internally like any normal person. One of the cops said, 'What's this all about?'
Then, the other cop started laughing and explained that they were doing K9 training and I happened to sit down at the exact spot they had previously hidden the bag of goodies for the dog to find. The cops were laughing so hard they had to take a couple minute break from their training, and, after my blood pressure returned to normal, I thought it was funny as well."
"Airports employ falconers. The birds are used to keep other birds away from aircraft because a bird in an engine can mess up someone's day.
So this falconer had come into the airport with his bird to grab a cup of coffee. He decided to try to impress some ladies by taking the hawk's hood off and doing a little demonstration. What he failed to notice was the starlings resting outside on a steel beam. The hawk flew after starlings, smoked the glass and broke its neck.
Thousands of dollars worth of highly trained bird, gone."
"My mom worked for British Airways for years, dealing with special freight cases for imports and exports. Much of this freight was offloaded and put in a holding warehouse for customers to collect - it wasn't your typical suitcases and luggage for traveling passengers.
One shipment came in from Africa containing a large wooden crate that didn't actually weigh that much. Her client came in, opened the crate to check the contents, and immediately became angry with the warehouse staff. He barges into her office holding a frozen, venomous snake. He's screaming at her in the office gesturing with this dead snake, demanding compensation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It turns out, he didn't declare them as animals. The cargo area of most planes isn't heated, so the poor snakes froze to death in transit. He couldn't sue and had to answer some interesting questions from the Treasury Department once it was all said and done.
He was importing them to make anti-venom; if he'd only declared them and paid for them to be shipped correctly, he would have made a healthy profit and probably saved some lives."
"I was on the cabin crew doing a turnaround from Dubai, UAE, to Muscat, Oman, and back again. We were on the ground in Muscat when we heard from the ground staff to take extra care of a passenger who was about to board. She was an English lady in her 50s, and as you can imagine, well turned out but unassuming all the same. She looked shaken when she boarded.
She had checked in her luggage and had gone through security. She placed her trolly bag on the conveyor belt and went ahead through the metal detector and was waiting on the other side for her bag. Next thing she knew, she was being detained, placed in handcuffs, and taken to a room for questioning. They take in her bag and start questioning her.
Airport police officer: 'Did you pack this bag yourself?'
Airport Police: 'So you know what's in the bag?'
The questioning went on for a while and was quite aggressive. The police officer then opened up the bag, and right on top of everything was a parcel filled with a medicinal plant. She was aghast and protested her innocence, doesn't know anything about it. This lady was completely distraught. The gravity of it was hitting her and she was inconsolable. Trafficking illegal substances anywhere is a big no-no, but in Middle Eastern countries it could end your life. The officers reviewed the footage of when her bag was scanned, and when she placed her bag on the belt and turned away, a man standing right behind her undid the zips and slipped it in. She had no idea who this man was.
She was let go and free to continue traveling, but her trolly bag was confiscated as evidence. She wasn't worried about the bag at that stage. I got her a big drink."
"I watched a mechanic, who was standing on the top of the cage of a scissor lift with one foot resting on an engine part, yell to his partner to throw him some JB Weld. JB Weld was not approved for aviation usage at this time, and I don't know if it is now.
Smoke hoods, an FAA mandated piece of safety equipment, were kept locked away from the staff. Well, unless FAA inspectors were coming. They were dubbed 'too expensive for the monkeys to screw with.'
Drained fuel was kept in a cage, which was up against an exterior wall of the hanger, next to a door that we had to walk through on every patrol. The pump used to transfer fuel between barrels leaked, spraying jet fuel against the door, ground, wall, anyone walking near them. I got sprayed with jet fuel on a number of occasions, and they dealt with the spill on at least two occasions that I know of by hosing it into a storm drain.
Part of our job became to look through the windows of vehicles in the parking lot for illegal substances due to a number of incidents at the site. Stuff was found in the hanger, employees coming to work after having too many, fights, and so on. We were told NOT to check vehicles belonging to management.
On more than one occasion, I had to physically restrain test pilots from assaulting Inspectors due to problems that arose during the test flights.
For several months, the paint shop vented fumes directly into the hanger. This wasn't fixed until mechanics refused to work on aircraft stationed next to the paint shop.
One weekend, the mechanics were finishing up the last jet on site at the time. They decided that they didn't want to go through the trouble of moving the jet to the flight deck before they fired up the engines for a basic function test. Apparently, they'd been having some problems getting these engines to fire and were fed up with hauling it in and out, so they fired it up inside of the hanger. The nose of this plane was not 10 feet from my guard shack. They couldn't understand why we were pissed.
Little things like those shook my faith in the aviation industry."
"I work at my local airport and just last summer, we had a hurricane looming down on us. Everyone was getting packed to evacuate and we were renting cars like to people fleeing. On top of this, we were trying to get them out of the storm area.
When I walked back up, there was a man sitting on a bench out front with an apocalyptic-looking storm bearing down, wind whipping everywhere, just soulfully playing the trombone. I have no idea where he came from or what he was doing, but it was surreal; like something out of a David Lynch film."
"Most of the airport work is mundane, but you will get the odd passenger that leaves an impression on you.
There was a group of people coming through for a business trip and their boss had never flown before. One of his employees came in and explained they told him he needed dental records for TSA and wanted us to play along.
So the boss came in and handed me his ID and an X-ray from his dentist to check in for his flight. Trying not to laugh, I show it to my coworker who points at it and says, 'Well, TSA might have an issue with that.'
The dude's face went white as a sheet until his employees busted up laughing. He got red in the face and started laughing at himself.
Never let it be said that airports are humorless places."
"I used to work for the TSA, where I intercepted a human trafficking situation. There was a man, a woman, and a little boy, but the lady wasn't allowed to speak. The little boy looked scared but didn't say anything; he wouldn't even look at me. So it freaked me out. I told my supervisor and she called the airport police department. As soon as he saw me go talk to my supervisor, he looked agitated. He sent the lady and the little boy down the terminal and he was trying to grab all of their things to go meet them.
The police showed up and asked me for a description. Since the airport wasn't big, an officer found them and brought them back to the checkpoint. As they got closer to the checkpoint, he tried to send the lady to the exit instead of having her come back to the checkpoint.
Eventually, the police were able to separate the man from the lady and the little boy. She told them everything. They walked the man out in cuffs. I didn't get to see what happened to her because my shift was ending. But when I grabbed my stuff from the back, we made eye contact and she nodded at me. I took that as a thank you.
It was a scary situation but I'd do it again any day. There's no telling what would've happened to that lady and little boy if I didn't follow my instincts."
"Last year, I was working as a contractor in the planning department of a large commercial airport. This airport has a park between the runways that people go to sit and watch planes. I decided to take my two young boys out there one evening because they like to watch the planes take off and land.
It started to get dark and I saw a lady stand up and put her arms up and start making a howling sound. At first, I didn't know what she was doing or where the sound was coming from. I heard it again and realized it was her, and she might have been crazy. This continued for a few minutes and I decided to leave. Meanwhile, she was still standing there, arms up, howling at the planes taking off.
A week or so later, I had to ride around the airport with an operations guy and I told him about my trip to the park and what happened. He said 'was there a Lufthansa Airbus leaving while she was doing that?'
I told him, yeah, there was. He proceeded to tell me that she was well known around there. According to him, she believed that she died on a Lufthansa flight in a previous life and has been reincarnated into her current body. She thought her soul was still connected to the flight somehow. She went there to pray over the same Lufthansa flight every time it departed."
"I used to periodically work security to supplement my income. In 2002 I was assigned to the Spirit Airlines repair facility at Meacham International Airport in Fort Worth, Texas.
One day I was sitting in the guard shack with a coworker, reading a book when Fort Worth Police Department vehicles swarmed the parking lot. SWAT officers, accompanied by an impressive number of federal officers, locked the place down with their weapons out. My coworker and I got dragged out of the guard shack and held by law enforcement while they secured the facility.
It turns out that Spirit hadn't been doing proper background checks on the mechanics, and a number of them were in the country illegally, using falsified documents. Many were suspected of having ties to extremist groups on the Philippines. The scuttlebutt around the office is that a C-level executive for Spirit had flown them in privately to cut payroll costs, but this was never confirmed.
As if that wasn't bad enough my coworker and I were reprimanded for not calling our supervisory staff as soon as the raid occurred. You know, while we were being held hostage."
"This happened in Manila, which had the notorious distinction of having the worst airport in the world for several years in a row. While we were waiting for our baggage, the conveyor belt stalled. Instead of calling a technician to fix the belt, the idiots running the belt tried to jump start it, and instead sent a section of the rubber parts of the conveyor flying. Luckily no one was hurt. It did cause a big scene though and took about an hour for the conveyor to start working again. Now you're asking, couldn't they just reassign you to another baggage claim? Nope, remember this is the Manila Airport we're talking about. We don't go the extra mile for our travelers, no sir.
But that wasn't the best part of the whole experience. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, people were already getting their bags and whatnot. A particular box comes out of the magic butthole of the conveyor and an excited passenger reaches for it. He goes and grabs it from the conveyor.
The contents of the box, which looked like fine china, promptly come crashing onto the conveyor and surrounding floor, which causes another delay in the baggage while the airport employees clean up the mess. The man, clearly exasperated, just can't help but laugh at how poorly his day was going. Good for him"
"My father worked as part of the ground crew at a large airport in the '90s. Sometimes, he would have to take my brother and me to work with him, and on a rare occasion, we were in one of the vehicles out on the tarmac. It was an older station wagon.
My dad had left to do some work on the tarmac, and explicitly told my brother and me not to touch anything in the car. So of course, my brother, being the antsy-pants he was, at some point decided he wanted to roll down the back window in the station wagon. He climbed into the driver's seat and started pulling levers. If I remember correctly, the gear shifter on this vehicle was on the steering column, and of course, this was what he grabbed.
The car started to roll towards a fairly large airplane. I don't remember exactly what happened next, but as my dad remembers it, much of the ground crew began chasing after the car as it rolled closer and closer to this large airplane. Finally, one of the crew managed to jump into the car and stop it, just a few feet short of the plane. At the time, it was scary, but looking back on it now, we all find it hilarious.
My dad tells us some stories on occasion as well. Another favorite of mine is how when he was working arrivals on the tarmac, if he saw people standing before the plane stopped moving, he'd sharply give the stop signal to the pilots so they'd push on the brakes a little harder!"
"Four years ago I got an airport job as a ramp agent at a charter airport in my town. I worked every summer there, but this story still comes back to me.
Most of our passengers are from Russia. And you know what Russia is famous for - Russians.
So I get a call that a passenger, ready to board a flight, has had way too many to drink. Usually, the cabin crew and the pilots decide whether or not to let him travel.
The passenger bus arrives at the aircraft and from the seat next to the driver comes out a giant man who had way too many. The bus driver helps him stay on his feet. He miraculously climbs the steps, but then the cabin crew rejects him.
He was already in his seat and doesn't want to disembark.
The border police get involved. Two well-built guys try to drag him out of his seat, but he manages to pull them back in and spews profanities.
As I saw there isn't an improvement, I get down to the cargo compartments to search for his checked in bag.
As we are looking through them, the cleaning staff comes on. I ask my colleagues why would they come now and he tells me that the man crapped himself. He was in the front rows. When I got back on board, all the passengers were covering their noses and mouths."
"My friend used to work refueling planes. Most days during lunch, he would sit in the airport and do some people watching. Anyway, a cart with a bunch of baggage rolls by and the bag on the end falls off without anyone noticing, but him. After some time security is notified of the unknown bag.
Taking all precautions, security brings in the bomb-sniffing dog to check it out. The dog sniffs it for a second and then all of a sudden begins to dry-hump the bag."
"This story is from my dad. We were coming off a plane at Lagos Airport in Nigeria in 1992. I was about 10 years old at the time, so I was wandering around the baggage hall when I found a service lift with a hole cut out of the door. It was cordoned off, so you couldn't use it.
A cleaner had been using the service lift one night after a shift to go back up to the departure area, where he could stash his trolley. The lift broke down between floors. The emergency help button did nothing, and of course, it's before mobile phones were introduced. He pounded and pounded on the interior of the lift, but it was in a quiet spot of the airport.
He was not scheduled to be on shift the next day. His colleagues came in and assume the trolley has been stolen as the cupboard was open, and the life was not there. They carried on. When they tried to use the service lift, it didn't work. They didn't hear their colleague, as he was trapped closer to the floor below than the one above.
The trapped cleaner had been in there 18 hours by this point. He was desperate and started to drink water from the mop bucket.
His family came to the airport about 24 hours in to find out what happened to him. His colleagues hadn't seen him and thought he might have gone to the city to spend his paycheck.
After about 48 hours, the trapped man was feeling sick from drinking mop bucket water. He had to use another bucket as a toilet. The smell was unbearable. A technician arrived to try to fix the broken lift. The man was saved...
Or not. The tech managed to get the lift back down to the ground floor, but the doors wouldn't open. They tried prying, jimmying, nothing's budging them. They even removed the motors and tried by hand. Eventually, they realized they would need to cut him out.
They fired up the angle grinder and cut a small hole in the door. Sparks were flying everywhere. That was just the outer skin. They couldn't get the angle grinder in further to the inner door, so the welding torch came out.
Of course, this was flinging hot metal into the lift. The cleaner was scared. He had been in the dark for 48 hours, and now someone was flinging hot metal at him.
Eventually, they made a hole all the way through. He crawled out, collapsed, and was taken away in an ambulance. He survived, but he did not return to his job at the airport."