Back to All ArticlesBack to All Articles
obama plane

The 7 Strangest Reasons for Flight Delays

AuthorThe AirHelper

If you’ve traveled recently, you have heard a wide range of excuses from airlines for why your flight has been delayed. From weather to technical difficulties to cabin cleaning, the reasons – though annoying – usually make some sense to us as passengers.

But what if the pilot announced something you thought to be a joke… something a bit stranger than fiction, as the truth often is. We’ve gathered here the 7 strangest reasons for flight delays… ever.

Before we get to the fun, here’s the pre-fun.. our man Scott with the basics of flight delays.

Find out more on our Know Your Rights pages –>>

The 7 Strangest Reasons for Flight Delays

Scorpion Stings Passenger

Last month, a passenger was stung on an Alaskan Airlines flight to Portland, Oregon. The flight originated in Los Cabos, Mexico and was preparing to take off from LAX when the incident happened. The delay cost the airline about 50 total minutes, which doesn’t seem to be too bad in the grand scheme of things. The jury is still out on when exactly the scorpion booked a ticket to fly the route.

Wild Boar Goes For a Jog

Evidently Pumbaa caused some havoc in Spain recently at Madrid’s Barajas airport. A wild boar is said to have broken through a perimeter fence causing the runways to be shutdown and two plane landings to be delayed. Can you imagine the pilots of those planes, “Passengers there seems to be a large pig taking a stroll on the runway, we will be landing as soon as he’s got his workout in.” The flights were delayed by 20 minutes and 10 minutes respectively. Enough time for the boar to get a couple laps in!

Snakes On a Plane

Warning, this is not a cliché, promise. In 2013, a small snake forced the grounding of a Japan-bound Qantas flight in the Australian city of Sydney. The snake, which was non-venomous, was about eight inches long. We’re still unsure if an overnighter was necessary but passengers were booked into hotels overnight, so we won’t complain… too much. By the way, this was not the first or only snake incident for Qantas that year and a similar incident happened the year before. The movie is suddenly making more sense.

Dog Poop

To be fair, this flight was already two hours delayed before it took off from LAX. The poor pup’s pooping schedule was probably inconvenienced by this fact. So after take off, is it any wonder that a passenger’s service dog had to poop not once but twice in the plane’s center aisle? After the event, the plane was forced to land in Kansas City, Mo. because the “plane had run out of paper towels and the mess was clogging the aisle.” The 7-hour trip took passengers a total of 14 hours with both delay events.

We’ve Got Mice!

Late last year a Qatar Airways flight from Madrid to Doha was delayed for more than six hours after a mouse was found in the cabin. Much to the mouse’s surprise passengers were significantly alarmed by its presence on the plane. On landing at the Barajas Airport in Madrid, the plane had to be fumigated which resulted in a 6-hour delay of the return flight. (And in case you haven’t picked up on this, this is indeed the second time that Barajas Airport has shown up on this list.)

Slow and Steady… Still Causes Delays

We know the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. The moral of that story is that slow and steady wins the race. But loads of baby turtles on a tarmac, though slow and steady only cause for more delays. JFK airport learned this all too well in 2009 and again in 2011. In 2011 flights were delayed up to 30 minutes and up to an hour and a half in 2009. Understandably the turtles were not bothered as they have been doing this migration for centuries prior to JFK’s existence.

A Cute, Fluffy Prison Break

I’m not sure if you know this, but otters are adorable. Adorable but also pretty sneaky. Two otters were sneaky enough in 2009 to escape their containers, and naturally because this has almost become the theme of this post, they chilled on the tarmac. This happened at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport and resulted in a Continental Airlines flight to Ohio being delayed for an hour. We can only assume that the otters definitely think it was all worth it.

Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You may be entitled to as much as €600 in compensation if your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked within the last three years.

travel industry ebook cover

Get the industry report

The air travel industry hit some highs and lows last year. Check out how it impacted passengers.

Get paid for your delayed, canceled or overbooked flight from the last three years.

Check your flight

It only takes 3 minutes