The 10 most shocking travel stories of 2019


  • In 2019, there have been some truly shocking travel stories.
  • In the skies, there were reports of passengers attempting to open the emergency exit, a passenger who punched a flight attendant, and a passenger who got kicked off the plane after insulting her seatmates. 
  • At Disney parks, there was a very public family brawl, a manhunt for a tourist on LSD, and a guest who reportedly punched an employee. 
  • The Viking Sky cruise ship made headlines this year when its 1,300 passengers became stranded at sea. 
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Traveling is meant to be a time to unplug, relax, and enjoy a new culture. But throughout the year, stories have emerged of tourists behaving badly. Whether that be on an airplane, a cruise ship, or at Disney, there have been some truly surprising travel stories in 2019. 

As the year comes to a close, Insider looks back at some of the most shocking travel stories. 

When a passenger tried to find the bathroom on a plane, he opened the emergency exit door instead.

emergency exit plane

Emergency exit.
Horacio Villalobos/ Getty


In June, a man aboard a Pakistan International Airlines went to use the bathroom while the plane was still on the ground. He instead opened the emergency exit door, activating the emergency exit slide. All 40 people aboard the plane were evacuated. 

The flight from Manchester, UK, to Islamabad, Pakistan, was delayed seven hours.

A seemingly intoxicated woman made headlines after twerking on a plane and yelling profanities at fellow passengers.

twerking passenger

A woman twerking on a Spirit Airlines flight.

ViralHog/ YouTube


On a Spirit Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Orlando, Florida, in March, a woman was caught on camera twerking, exposing her backside, and yelling profanities at her fellow passengers. 

It all began when she refused to turn off her cell before the plane took off, according to video distribution company, ViralHog. The woman eventually left the plane.

A tourist sparked a huge manhunt after he reportedly took LSD, fell into a lake at Disneyland Paris, and then disappeared.

disneyland paris

Disneyland Paris.
NurPhoto/ Getty


While visiting Disneyland Paris in September, a Swiss tourist reportedly took LSD and fell into a lake. When he didn’t resurface, his girlfriend went to the park’s staff for help. In response, they launched a manhunt for missing man. 

The search included 10 policemen, 30 firefighters, 80 Disneyland employees, a helicopter, and a thermal camera, according to The Washington Post. 

The following morning, a driver in a nearby town came across a naked man walking along the road. The driver returned the man to Disneyland Paris, where he was identified as the missing person. 

The man and the woman were then arrested for narcotics use but were eventually let go with a citation, according to Le Parisien.  

Passengers aboard the Viking Sky cruise ship experienced nightmare-like conditions after sailing into a storm.

viking sky cruise

Passengers stranded on Viking Sky.
Alexus Sheppard/ AP


In March, the Viking Sky cruise ship made headlines when it sailed into the choppy waters off the coast of Norway. There, the ship was met with a severe storm, which made the boat tilt to one side, causing all the furniture to slide. Videos of the boat rocking side to side went viral.

The ship then experienced engine problems, stranding the 1,300 people on board. 

After calling mayday, 400 people had to be airlifted off the boat and 28 people were taken to the hospital for injuries. 

“The past few days have been stressful and hectic for both guests and crew alike,” Torstein Hagen, the chairman for Viking Cruises, said in a statement to Insider. “I would like to personally apologize for what our guests experienced.” 

An elderly woman threw coins at her plane’s engine to “wish for a safe flight.”

plane engine

A plane’s engine.
Sergei Bobylev/ Getty


At Hohhot Baita International Airport in Inner Mongolia in April, a 66-year-old Chinese woman reportedly threw six coins at the jet engine when she was boarding the plane, according to Channel News Asia. After being removed from the aircraft, she told authorities she was praying for a safe flight.

Concerned the loose coins could damage the engine, the airline switched passengers to a new aircraft, delaying them for two hours.

“The engine could tremble, lose speed and even stop in mid-air if a coin were sucked into its core,” a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China told China Daily. “That would put all the passengers on board at great risk.”

A family fight at Disneyland that turned into a brawl was caught on camera and went viral.

Disneyland's Toontown

Disneyland’s Toontown.
Mario Anzuoni/Reuters


In July, a family at Disneyland’s Toontown started fighting, and it turned into a huge physical brawl. Parkgoers filmed the incident, and it quickly went viral online. In the video, you can hear family members yelling, “Hold my daughters!” and “I’m ready to go to jail tonight.” 

“Any type of violence is inexcusable and will not be tolerated,” Liz Jaeger, a spokeswoman for the Disneyland Resort, said in a statement. “Those involved were immediately removed from the premises and turned over to the Anaheim Police Department.”

A passenger was moved from a flight for reportedly calling her seatmates “two big pigs.”

united airlines plane

A United airplane.
David McNew/Getty


Norma Rodgers was aboard a United Airlines flight from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Newark, New Jersey, in January when she said the woman sitting beside her became unruly. Rodgers caught the incident on camera. 

In the video, you can hear the unidentified woman say, “I can’t sit here because they’re both so big left and right, I can’t even sit here,” referencing Rodgers and the passenger seated on the woman’s other side. The woman then goes on to say, “Why don’t you sit between those two big pigs?” 

The flight attendants moved the woman but ultimately had to take her off the plane. 

“When it became clear that this passenger’s behavior was likely to be problematic on this flight, she was provided alternate travel arrangements first thing the next morning,” a United spokesman said. 

A woman who was angry over not having a FastPass to the Tower of Terror at Disney World punched an employee, according to a sheriff’s report.

Tower of Terror ride Hollywood Studios Disney World.JPG

The Tower of Terror.
Kim Renfro/INSIDER


According to the sheriff’s report seen by the Orlando Sentinel in July, a woman got physical with a Disney World employee after she realized her group didn’t have FastPasses for the Tower of Terror. The report says the woman punched a 23-year-old employee in the face and proceeded to press the buttons on the employee’s podium. 

Although the employee decided to not press charges and declined medical treatment, the woman has been banned from Disney World for life. 

“We don’t tolerate unsafe behavior,” a Disney spokeswoman told the Orlando Sentinel. 

A man had to be tied down on a plane after he appeared to punch a flight attendant in the chest.

airplane

A full flight.
vovashevchuk/ iStock


KDKA reported in June that a man who appeared to be drunk aboard an American Airlines flight from Pittsburgh to Dallas tried to open the emergency exit door.

The flight attendants brought the man back to his seat where he then got into a brawl with another passenger, according to reports. During the brawl, he reportedly punched a flight attendant in the chest.

The crew had to ziptie his hands together and tie him up using duck tape, a flight attendant told the local station. When the plane landed in Oklahoma City, he was arrested and charged with public drunkenness, assault and battery, and disorderly conduct.

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