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updated 8/11/2010 1:47:28 PM ET 2010-08-11T17:47:28

Packed planes. Rude passengers. Stressed-out flight attendants.

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So much for flying the friendly skies.

Air travel has become a such a hassle, it's no wonder tempers run short. Jason Sparks of Peoria, Ill., shares one such example.

"Flight was ready to take off but they wouldn't taxi the plane because the passenger was using a cellphone," he writes. "The attendant asked the man twice to turn off his cellphone so that the plane could taxi out and take off. He got irate and cussed the attendant and told her it was a business call. She asked him one more time to turn it off before she had to take it away. When he didn't listen she tried to take it away and he got very hostile against her and called her a few explicit names. Attendants get more crap thrown their way because passengers refuse to follow simple protocol."

Sharon of Pittsburgh offered another example of rude passenger behavior: "On every flight I'm on, I see people board with their carry-on (does anyone check baggage any more?) and proceed to stuff it into the first overhead bin they find available. Then they proceed to their seat further back in the plane. I can't count how many times I've been banged in the head by someone trying to sling their carry-on over my head while trying to do-si-do around someone making their way to the back of the plane where their carry-on got stuck."

Beyond rude behavior, other strange things have happened above 30,000 feet. Ken Guthrie of Atlanta writes that he once was involved in a pillow fight aboard a DC-9 in the 1980s.

"There were only about 15 passengers on a very late night Eastern flight going into Norfolk, Virginia. About 6-7 people were from my company, were tired from a long day of work, but once the fight started, most, if not all, joined in. It was at that time, I discovered the pillows are (or were) stuffed with ground-up paper. Most of us were peppered with white paper as we deboarded and tried to get it off our clothes - many of us (men and women) were wearing business suits."

Try doing THAT in our post 9/11 world, and you're likely to be arrested.

Here are more stories from our readers about the most bizarre and boorish behavior they've witnessed in the air.

"While flying from Chicago to Honolulu on United one day, a well 'liquored-up' lady was having an argument with a man and decided to leave the 747. She tried opening the door, but, the flight attendants got her back to her seat. Good thing, too ... we were at 10,000 feet. It would have been quite a first step."
— Charles, state withheld

"It was about 1974, my husband and I were flying home from a vacation in Jamaica. About half way through the flight, we noticed that people on our side of the plane were whispering and looking intently out of the windows. We looked to our right and parallel to our plane but far, there were three metallic objects, hovering, as my husband frantically searched for his camera ... two of the objects disappeared faster then anything I'd ever seen. The last one remained for just enough time for my husband to snap the picture, and disappeared in an instant. We had the picture analyzed by an organization called The Ariel Phenomenon Research Organization. They magnified 200x, the man that delivered the photo back to us, told us that our photo was indeed an "unidentified flying object." I must add, that on that day, it was only around 5 or 6 p.m., and the sky couldn't have been more clear."
— Kathleen Campbell, The Woodlands, Texas

"My husband and I were returning on a flight from the Bahamas and a fellow passenger, who had been kind of unruly on the flight out, was extremely drunk and belligerent. (One of the bathrooms wasn't working, so a lot of passengers were pretty upset to begin with.) When the flight attendant told him he had to sit down because the plane was going to land, things got ugly quickly and the passenger actually pushed the flight attendant (an older woman) so hard that she almost fell. Needless to say, the Marshalls were waiting for Mr. Idiot when we landed."
— MP, state withheld

"A passenger sitting in front of us with her husband was stealing food and pop from the galley every time the flight attendants were not there! She didn't care that those around her could see her and her husband didn't say a thing either! She loaded up her carry-on; that thing was bulging and probably weighed about 20 pounds when we left the plane!"
— Angie Harris, Grandview, Wash.

"I was on a flight from London to L.A. and was seated in the middle section of a 747 on the next-to-last row. Behind me was a couple speaking some other language. We were the only people in the last 4-5 rows of the plane. Anyway, the flight was an all-nighter, and about halfway through, I started hearing some sounds behind me - the kind you don't usually hear on a plane. And, being the curious kind, I looked between the seats to see what was going on. Well, I won't go into detail, but even though they had a blanket over their bodies, it was pretty obvious what they were doing - like maybe starting their honeymoon a bit early! A funny note on this is that this was a Virgin Air flight!"
— Name withheld, Salt Lake City

"I was sitting in the middle seat in the row behind the emergency exit row, traveling from PHX to BOS. Moments after we pulled away from the gate the individual sitting in the aisle seat in the emergency row called the attendant and then stood up. The person next to him, middle seat emergency row, was having an epileptic seizure. The plane went back to the gate, the passenger was escorted off the plane while we waited to see if he would receive medical clearance to get back on, which he did not. Why would a person who knows he has epileptic seizures seat themselves in an emergency row?"
— Mel, Scottsdale, Ariz.

"I can't disclose my name, since I'm a flight attendant and we're forbidden from talking to the press. I can say that passengers "flip out" on a daily basis and get into fights with other passengers frequently. The passenger abuse that we withstand is shocking and airlines rarely stand up for their employees ... right or wrong. Although, blowing a slide (flight attendant lingo) is a highly dangerous pursuit, there isn't a flight attendant alive who hasn't thought or said to another FA, 'I'd love to blow this slide and get the hell out of here.' "
— Name withheld

"While waiting at the ticket counter an airline clerk came to the counter and told the person waiting on me that there was a man trying to board the plane without a medical release from the hospital. Fast forward to me on the plane and the guy across the aisle is wearing a medical bracelet like you get at the ER, with blood on his sleeve. He gets out of his seat as soon as the plane leaves the ground and tries walking to the front to ask for beer. The plane was climbing so he was hanging on to the backs of the seats to pull himself along. The flight attendant told him to sit back down. He sat down and proceeded to pull out a small black bag with two lizards inside and let them go down the aisle. CRAZY!!"
— Kim, Burlington, Wis.

"Back in 1993, Alaska Air red-eye flight from Seattle to San Jose: Drunk passenger irate over not being allowed more alcohol starts lighting matches and tossing them onto the flight attendant trying to manage him. Then the drunk dude starts groping the poor woman sitting next to her (she was immediately relocated someplace else in the cabin). Things continued to escalate to the point where the pilot came into the cabin to manage the passenger. The passenger cursed, spit and threw lit matches at the pilot. The pilot couldn't get the dude to settle down. I remember the irate passenger couldn't speak a word of English either, which made the situation all the more impossible. The surrounding passengers were eventually moved to seats away from the nut case. The nut case removed some of his clothes, puked and (finally) fell asleep. Upon landing, law enforcement boarded the plane and escorted the dude off the plane. The officers got an ovation from all the passengers."
— EOK, state withheld

"After taking our seats on an Air Jamaica flight from Montego Bay to Atlanta we noticed a young lady arriving rather late and throwing a carry on bag into the overhead across the aisle. Nothing unusual about this except the carry on bag had a number of rather large roaches crawling in and out of the bag. The Air Jamaica Flight Attendant came by and closed the overhead compartment securing the bag and roaches for the flight to Atlanta. Upon arrival in Atlanta the young lady retrieved the bag with some roaches still clinging to it and deplaned with her companions still attached."
— D. Stoops, Manning, S.C.

"I had bought a realistic looking doll that looked just like a newborn baby at a doll show in South Carolina. While sitting on my seat on the plane I was fanning myself when I accidentally thumped the doll on the head a few times. There were 2 fire marshalls sitting across from me in the plane. One of the guys just kept staring at me. At first he seemed to be smiling at the baby until I repeatedly thumped the baby doll on the head by accident. Finally he said, "Is that baby real?" I laughed and said no it isn't. He then told me he was glad because he was thinking he was going to have to turn me in at the end of the flight!"
— Lindy, Mich.

"I was flying from Paris to Boston in the early '80s and the flight went through some severe turbulence. We were told the flight might be rerouted to Bangor, Maine, and instructed to sit down and buckle up. A passenger became quite unruly over the change in flight plans and refused to sit. The co-pilot came out of the cockpit with a huge strap and strapped him to a seat until we landed."
— Paul, Rhode Island

"I was flying back from Florida with my parents and sister about two years ago. Our JetBlue flight was delayed for over four hours. While we were waiting I plugged my cell phone in an outlet in the the waiting area and forget it when I boarded the plane. As we waited for take off I remembered the phone and darted off the plane to get it. I was subsequently ousted from the plane by the supervisor for running off the plane. Since my parents are old and were very tired they stayed on the plane with my sister. I was lucky to get on one of their first flight out the next morning."
— JT, Brooklyn, N.Y.

"I watched a flight attendant being abused by a businessman who did not want to check his oversized bag. He shouted and cursed at her. Then proceeded to have a temper tantrum when the pilot and security came to take his bag."
— Mary Blahut, Diamond Bar, Calif.

And perhaps the most bizarre thing of all:

"The flight left and landed on time and my luggage wasn't lost."
— James Cason, Chula Vista, Calif.

© 2012 msnbc.com Reprints

Photos: Fed-up flight attendant

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Chart: When friendly skies turn mean

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