Things are getting SPOOKY at PRA this October with the Travel HORROR Story series! If you’ve traveled, you’ve encountered hiccups — lost luggage, canceled flights, crummy food, the list is endless. Since PRA staff are some of the most well-traveled folks around, we have gathered a collection of truly terrifying travel stories for your reading pleasure. A new post in the series will be posted each week during the month of October!

In our first installment, staff share some of their most memorable airline experiences!

Ashley:“In May 2014, I was flying back from a trauma training in Kansas City, Missouri. The flight home was late at night, and of course it was delayed. After it finally took off, we received word partway through that the plane would be diverted to Rochester due to poor weather in Albany. While disheartening, this would have made more sense if several passengers hadn’t gotten online to see that the Albany forecast was clear, and that the airline was reporting that the plane was actually diverted to refuel. The plane full of deliciously sarcastic New Yorkers sat on the Rochester tarmac (we couldn’t leave the plane, but had unlimited peanuts!) for over an hour until we were finally cleared to fly to Albany, arriving well past midnight.”

Travis: “In June 2015 I was trying to return to Nebraska from Atlanta, Georgia.  We were already delayed getting on the plane by approximately 90 minutes.  Once we got on the plane, we sat there for an extended period, without any word from the captain or flight attendants about what was causing the delay.  Finally, the captain spoke to everyone, and explained that there is a vent on the outside of the plane that is supposed to have a line painted around it.  Something was wrong with that painted line.  Either it wasn’t there, or the line wasn’t fully painted around the vent.  The captain asked us to be patient while the mechanics took a look at it, explaining that they were going to have to take a picture of it and submit the picture to the engineers for further guidance.  After another extended delay, the captain came on the speaker again, stating that we were all going to have to get off the plane and go back inside the airport while the engineers, mechanics, etc. attempted to resolve the issue with the painted line around the vent.  We waited inside the airport for another 90 minutes before finally getting on the plane to take off, more than 4 hours after our originally scheduled departure time.  Who knew a painted line around a vent was that important to an airplane remaining airborne?”

Abby: I was traveling back from San Francisco (via Chicago O’Hare) on a red eye. The flight left at 12:30 AM, I was supposed to have a 1.5 hour layover in Chicago, then be home by 1:00 PM. I was one of the first to board in San Francisco but was told I would need to check my bag because there was no overhead space (there was plenty)! The first flight was fine, but when I arrive at O’Hare I found that my flight to Albany had been delayed, and then was canceled. The United agent told me that my only option was to rebook a flight that got me into Albany at midnight — no other options or airlines are available. Thankfully she was corrected by our company’s amazing travel agent, who rebooked me on another flight from Chicago to Charlotte then Charlotte to Albany. I had to retrieve my bag from United, Air-Train to another terminal, and go back through security, only to see that my flight to Charlotte is so delayed that I would miss my connection to Albany. So I sprint to the gate where an earlier Charlotte flight was boarding and was able to get the last seat on the flight. I made it to Charlotte and then home to Albany without delay or incident. When I finally got my car and drove to the kiosk to pay for parking, the magnet stripe on my parking ticket was deactivated (with a line of cars behind me) — every car needed to back up so I could go to one with an agent and have her key in my information. I finally arrived home, about 9 hours late!”