Ten hilarious travel mishaps

written by Eleanor Aldridge

updated 22.07.2021

All experienced travellers know there’s little you can do but sit back and relax when your best-laid plans go awry. Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or automobile, sometimes things just don’t go your way. Inspired by TFL’s bungle here in London in January, here are ten amusing travel mishaps that entertained the world:

1. “Flood damage” on the Victoria Line

Thought “leaves on the line” was the worst excuse you could hear? TFL recently tried to attribute the shutdown of the Victoria Line to “flood damage”, concealing the fact that blundering contractors had piped concrete into the control room. It took a matter of hours for photos to be leaked, and only a couple more before enterprising Internet users had Photoshopped Han Solo into the mire.

2. All (un)clear for landing in Kansas

Near the end of 2013, tiny Colonel James Jabara airport received an unexpected arrival: a whopping Boeing 747 Dreamlifter cargo plane. The pilot apparently got confused on his way to McConnell air force base. Despite the runway being shorter than required for takeoff, the plane managed to get on its way again a few hours later.

3. Please stand on the right

We’ve all found stairs a little tricky after a post-work pint, but this inebriated businessman was beyond befuddled. His efforts to go down the up escalator – despite the insistence of passers by – have now given him internet notoriety.

4. An unexpected dip

Clearly engrossed in crafting the perfect status update, a tourist in Melbourne walked straight off the end of St Kilda pier while checking Facebook on her phone. According to The Telegraph, the local constable advised people “to take greater care when using social media around water”.

Melbourne, Australia © f11photo/Shutterstock

Melbourne, Australia © f11photo/Shutterstock

5. All on board?

Once you’ve checked in, passed through security and made it beyond the departure gate you might think you’re as good as on the plane. This wasn’t the case on a recent easyJet flight from Malaga to Bristol; The Daily Mail reported that 29 passengers were forgotten, left trapped between the security doors and the gangway. The budget airline made headlines again a few days later after tasering a drunken passenger who went on a naked rampage.

6. Parking 101

Burnham-on-Sea’s sandy strand has claimed many cars over the years. Drivers are cautioned to watch the fast-rising tide when using the beach parking, but this didn’t stop a family from Wolverhampton losing their Mondeo to the sea in 2010. According to The Daily Mail, as the family tried to rescue their vehicle it just sank deeper into the soft sand and mud.

7. Gran flown to Grenada not Granada

Thanks to a mix-up with over the phone with Avios, Lamenda Kingdon was surprised to discover – mid-flight – that she was being whisked off to a Caribbean Island rather than sunny Spain. “The 62-year-old was sipping a gin and tonic at 30,000ft when she told the person next to her how she was looking forward to visiting the historic Spanish city. She was aghast when her neighbour replied: ‘Not on this plane, you won’t.’”, reported the Plymouth Herald.

8. A night to remember

Nineteen-year-old Luke had a rude awakening in November when he woke up after a night at Manchester’s Tokyo Project in the toilettes of Paris’s Charles De Gaulle Airport. He told The Mirror: “I don’t recall much of the flight because I fell asleep and then the next thing I know I find myself lying next to a toilet in a cubicle in the middle of Charles De Gaulle airport and thinking what the hell have I just done?”

9. "I’ve got monkeys in my pants"

An inept smuggler revealed himself at LAX in 2002, after four birds of paradise burst from his suitcase and began swooping around the airport. Further interrogation led him to admit that he was also concealing a pair of slow lorises… in his pants.

Slow Loris on branch in tropical forest © Conservationist/Shutterstock

Slow Loris on branch in tropical forest © Conservationist/Shutterstock

10. No sir, we cannot translate your tattoo

One of the most bizarre requests received by the FCO came from Rome, where a British tourist wanted consular assistance to translate his new inking. Even the possibility of ending up with something like this doesn’t warrant preventing travellers in real need from accessing help.

You can use Rough Guides to make sure your trip does go to plan. Buy eBooks from our shop, or browse our destinations section for inspiration. Book hostels for your trip, and don't forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Ready to travel and discover

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍