I’m not a huge fan of flying, but you sort of have to when you live 4,000 miles from your hometown and also like to see other parts of the world on occasion when you’re not too busy watching documentaries on Netflix.

I do enjoy airports, however, and find it really exciting to see people coming and going while I sit there eating a pretzal and watching the world go by. I EVEN enjoy a short flight delay on occasion, just to make the trip that much more interesting.

However. There was one particular journey a few years ago, en route from Barcelona to London, that may go down as my worst flying experience (so far). It’s not the longest I’ve been delayed, nor is it the scariest mid-air experience I’ve had (shout out to flying around a Texas thunderstorm or being the last scheduled flight to be allowed into London due to high winds), but it is my most memorable. And now I will share it with you so you know my pain.

So I’m traveling with Guy after going to Barcelona for his birthday. I would say I picked it because I had heard him say he wanted to go, but really it was because I am selfish and it was warm there in October.

We had a great time, ate lots of overpriced tapas, figured out that I was mostly lying about being able to speak Spanish, and then got to the Barcelona airport in plenty of time for our flight.

The first delayed announcement didn’t phase us. Flights get delayed all of the time, right? Not an issue. It was only delayed for 30 minutes or so. Fine! More people watching.

Then 30 minutes goes by, and it’s delayed again, this time putting up the dreaded “Delayed” with no further information sign.

This was slightly more concerning, but we assumed more information would be coming shortly.

It didn’t — for the next two hours, while we sat and tried to figure out if no one was at the airline’s desk because they were afraid to confront all of the confused people or because the airline had shut down in the past two hours without us knowing.

Finally, the pilot from the plane comes off and shouts to all of us that there is an engine and electrical problem, and they’re just trying to fix it before we take off.

Okay. Well, not okay! The thought of getting on plane with any sort of problem is not really up my alley. But we needed to get home somehow, so we continued to wait.

There still were no airline staff members around to ask, and so the pilot was left to fend for himself, updating the passengers when he knew more. He would come out, make everyone crowd around him and then yell at the top of his lungs with an update. People would try to ask him questions, and he would take a couple before retreating back into the plane. He was the biggest celebrity in that terminal for the duration of the afternoon. At one point, it looked like they were going to need to fly us in another plane that still hadn’t left from London, and then we could get on this new plane and get back home to a different London airport.

This went on for about four hours in total, until the pilot came back and told us it was fixed — the plane was ready to fly!

This should have been comforting, but there was something about stepping onto a plane that had just had engine trouble that wasn’t making us feel great about the whole situation. I sort of wanted them to test it first, and if it didn’t crash, THEN I’d get on it. It also didn’t help when we boarded and sat next to a lady who cheerily informed us that her grandmother had died in a plane crash that had problems just like ours did!


I resigned myself to my fate right before take-off, though decided to look at the flight attendants as I always find it helpful to see how not-freaked-out the flight attendants are.

Except this time, the flight attendant I could see looked absolutely terrified and breathed a giant sigh of relief once we were up in the air. Thanks for nothing!

The rest of the flight was uneventful, and we spent the whole flight checking the clock to see if we were going to be in more than 3 hours after we were supposed to be. In the EU, if your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours (ie you land 3 hours or more later than you were supposed to), you are entitled to compensation. We had visions in our head of checking out services like this company who go through the process for you and help you claim your compensation.

But wouldn’t you know it! The official time of landing that was listed for our flight was about 2 hours and 59 minutes after our schedule arrival. Either someone is being sneaky, or that pilot just raced his way through the skies to try and save the airline some money. We’ll never know, but I’ll never forget that journey and how close we were to being richer for it!

What’s your worst flying experience? How long has your longest delay been? Share your travel woes in the comments!