Snakes, nuts and wet Frenchmen: 7 extraordinary flight delays and diversions

Photo of Joey TysonPhoto of Joey Tyson
By Joey Tyson

14 February 20195 min read

An aeroplane taking off from an airport on a bright day

It’s hard to see the funny side of a flight delay, and harder still if your plane has to land halfway through your flight due to something going wrong. But sometimes these things happen – and sometimes the reason is so utterly ridiculous, the only thing you can do is smile!

Take, for example, the recent delay at a South Carolina airport. But there was no suicidal pigeon or angry Icelandic volcano to blame. The reason was far more serious: a streaker dashed across the runway and shut down the regional airport for hours.

Think that’s daft? Check out some of these other reasons for delays and diversions!

Bad smells on board

Oh, how the passengers on one Delhi-bound Spice Jet plane wished their flight problems started and ended with an unclothed woman sprinting across the tarmac.

Unfortunately, they weren’t so lucky: the smell emanating from a loo on the aircraft was so bad that the pilot was forced to divert shortly after take-off – passengers simply could not stand the stench.

It’s not the first time an unwelcome odour has grounded a plane, either. British Airways faced a similarly pungent problem back in 2015 when a “smelly poo in the toilet” caused a Dubai-bound flight to turn back to Heathrow after just 30 minutes in the air.

Pass the sick bag please!

Passengers going nuts

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in first class, waiting for take-off and you feel a little peckish. To sate your hunger, you order some macadamia nuts. No big deal, right?


Imagine now that a member of the cabin crew makes the first class faux pas of serving you the salty snack, not on a plate as you’d surely expect, but in a packet. A PACKET!

This was the “issue” facing Cho Yang-ho, senior vice president of Korean Airlines and daughter of the carrier’s chief executive. In a fit of nut-induced rage, Cho Yang-ho forced the plane, which was already taxiing, back to the gate and demanded that the chief steward be removed – all because she was served her nuts in a packet, and not on a plate.

In the end, the flight was somehow only delayed for 11 minutes. Cho Yang-ho, however, was given a one-year prison sentence for obstructing aviation safety. It’s just plane nuts!

Urinating Frenchmen

Everyone knows that the laws of the seatbelt sign are sacrosanct. Once on, you sit in your seat and wait – no matter how much you need the toilet.

Unless you’re an inebriated Gerard Depardieu, of course.

Back in 2011, a few too many pre-flight vinos left the portly French actor in need of a leak moments before take-off. Calls of “I need to piss, I need to piss” were rebuffed by the cabin crew, who told Depardieu he’d have to wait until the craft was airborne before he could use the bathroom.

Gerard, however, had other ideas. Half cut, as the plane taxied for take-off, he tried, and failed, to relieve himself into an empty bottle, sploshing the contents of his bladder anywhere but.

The flight from Paris to Dublin was delayed by two hours as a less-than-impressed cabin crew cleaned up the actor’s mess – sacre bleu, Monsieur Depardieu!

Blanket ban

Now, you might expect a Riga-bound Ryanair flight filled with drunken stag-doers to be diverted due to rowdy passengers, as many have. But a man kicking off over a blanket? That’s a new one.

On a recent Hawaiian Airlines flight from Las Vegas, one of the passengers reportedly got a bit too lairy about linen when cabin crew informed him that a blanket would cost him an admittedly-pricey $10 (£8).

Apparently the culprit – a chilly 66-year old – proclaimed that he would like to “take someone behind the woodshed” over the blanket’s cost, prompting the pilot to divert the flight so the passenger could be removed.

Take a jumper next time, mate.

Snake on a plane

Having to sit through the movie Snakes on a Plane is bad enough, but to live the ordeal in real life… well, the passengers were hissss-terical!


But that’s what happened to passengers on an Aeromexico flight last year, when a rogue green viper slithered its way into the cabin, sparking scenes reminiscent of the questionable Hollywood action film.

Without Samuel L on board to dish out some reptilian justice, the pilot opted for an emergency landing instead – he’d had it with that motherf… you get the idea.

The in-flight diva

Common courtesy was thrown out of the emergency exit back in 2013 when one woman refused to stop singing the Whitney Houston classic “I will always love you”.

Fellow passengers and crew were less than enamoured with her cabin karaoke, however.

The American Airlines jet, flying from LA to New York, was forced to land in Kansas City, where the would-be diva was ejected from the flight by police.

A very stubborn engineer

In 2016, an Air India flight from Delhi to Shanghai was delayed when a maintenance engineer flat out refused to take his seat in economy, insisting on business class only – something that engineers are actually entitled to if there are any available.

Unfortunately, there was not a single seat to be had.

The thought of being crammed in with the hoi polloi was simply too much for this chap to bear, prompting him to throw an almighty strop. The plane eventually took off two hours later than expected, and the elitist engineer was dubbed ‘unprofessional’ by the airline.

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