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The trip from London to Athens was supposed to take an afternoon.

September 14, 2017

A routine flight from the United Kingdom to Greece turned into a 33-hour ordeal involving four planes — including one that caught on fire — according to an account given to the Evening Standard.

British retiree Geoff Lye was supposed to board his 4-hour British Airways flight from London to Athens Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. The flight was canceled because of a faulty cockpit light and rescheduled for 5 p.m that evening. That 5 p.m. flight was then also canceled (the pilot explained that the flight would force crew to exceed their allocated working hours).

British Airways paid for passengers to spend the night at a hotel, and rescheduled the flight for the next day. But on Wednesday, soon after takeoff, passengers heard several loud bangs as the starboard engine caught fire.

“I’m an atheist but even I was praying. Our hearts were racing. Passengers behind me said they could see flames kicking out from the engine," Lye told the Evening Standard, describing the entire experience as a "nightmare."

A fourth plane took off Wednesday evening, and they finally reached Athens in the early hours of Thursday. 

Lye's experience was just one of several public missteps for airlines around the world this year. United Airlines made headlines earlier this year for dragging a passenger off a flight to make room for a crew member.

Other incidents have been even more bizarre. A scorpion fell from the overhead compartment of a United flight earlier this year, stinging a passenger. It was not immediately clear how the scorpion had boarded the plane in the first place.

And in March, a SpiceJet flight from Bangalore to Delhi was diverted after an “unbearable” smell coming from the bathroom made its way to the cockpit.

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