If you are on a long airline flight and suddenly hear the sounds of moaning, groaning, grunting and gurgles that are too hard (or too embarrassing) to describe, you might think you’re sitting near someone attempting to join the Mile High Club by having sex in the air. If, on the other hand, you are in an airplane and hear the sounds of someone suffering from vomiting or explosive diarrhea, you may wish you had taken your boss’ offer to do the upcoming sales meeting by Zoom rather than in person. And if you hear the sounds of both sex and vomiting, you are probably making a mental note to never again fly on this discount airline. Well, those sounds have all been heard recently by passengers during flights and the airline is not a low-budget service but American Airlines – and its management and staff have no idea why passengers using Los Angeles area airports are hearing them.
“It was either someone’s unfortunate food poisoning in the bathroom or, like, someone with an uncomfortable approach to personal satisfaction. Literally, it was halfway between an orgasm and vomiting.”
If the sounds were more entertaining, they might have inspired Emerson Collins, a film producer and director, to start penning a movie script, but the sounds coming through the intercom system on his recent American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Dallas. Collins posted the sounds of “The weirdest flight ever” on Twitter (you can hear them here), stating that they began before takeoff and continued throughout the flight. Needless to say, everyone on the plane heard them, including the cabin crew, and they could be heard every two to three minutes. Collins and others recorded the sounds on their phones, but he appears to be the only one who posted them … from this flight. It turns out passengers on other American Airlines flights have heard the strange moans and vomiting on other flights – more on those later.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we realize there is an extremely irritating sound coming over the public announcements. The flight deck is trying to troubleshoot, trying to turn it off, so please be patient with us. We know this is a very odd anomaly and none of us are enjoying it.”
Both flight attendants and the captain attempted to reassure the passengers there was nothing wrong with the plane mechanically and it wasn’t haunted – one flight attendant told Collins it was probably a hoax. The passengers landed and deboarded without an explanation. Sarah Jantz, a spokesperson for American, later issued this statement to the Los Angeles Times:
“Our maintenance team thoroughly inspected the aircraft and the PA system and determined the sounds were caused by a mechanical issue with the PA amplifier, which raises the volume of the PA system when the engines are running.”
That might be a satisfactory answer if this was one isolated incident on one specific type of plane, but it turns out the strange inflight noises have been heard on a number of recent flights using John Wayne Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.
“My wife and I experienced this during an AA flight in July. To be clear, it was just sounds like the moans and groans of someone in extreme pain. The crew said that it had happened before, and had no explanation. Occurred briefly 3 or 4 times early in the flight, then stopped.”
“These sounds started over the intercom before takeoff and continued throughout the flight. They couldn’t stop it, and after landing still had no idea what it was… I filmed about fifteen minutes, then again during service. It was calmer for a while mid flight.”
“Currently on AA1631 and someone keeps hacking into the PA and making moaning and screaming sounds 😨 the flight attendants are standing by their phones because it isn’t them and the captain just came on and told us they don’t think the flight systems are compromised so we will finish the flight to DFW. Sounded like a male voice and wouldn’t last more than 5-10 seconds before stopping. And has [intermittently] happened on and off all flight long.”
Those are three of at least five accounts of strange human sounds – usually male – on American Airlines flights using Los Angeles area airports. The flights were on both Boeing and Airbus planes using different airports and having different destinations and crews. The only common elements were that they were all American Airlines flights with some sort of connection to one of the Los Angeles airports. One passenger told Waxy.org he compared recordings with a passenger on another flight and both agreed it sounds like the same male voice making the strange sounds. He also found a social media post by the crew of one flight and it mentioned the pilots getting strange phone calls where all they heard was breathing, and then the breathing sounds moved to the PA system. Collins checked on his flight and the noises were not coming from an inflight movie because it had none. Needless to say, no one was happy with the “... a mechanical issue with the PA amplifier” explanation from American Airlines.
Waxy.org checked with some experts and provided other theories. An interesting one is that the was a malfunction in the medical intercom which has jacks in the overhead compartments to be used in medical emergencies. A response said that this is no longer used on American Airlines and it only allowed the crew to communicate with ground personnel, - not over the flight intercom. A second theory connected the moans and groans to a “pre-recorded messages system” which may have been hacked. An engineer proposed the moans may have sounded like a human voice but were actually just mechanical noises generated by a malfunction in a system designed to filter out noise and leave the human voice intact for better clarity. That sounds interesting but why would there be so many variations on different types of planes with different communication systems?
That leaves … ghosts? Gremlins? Aliens? Foo fighters? No one seems to know. That’s not the answer you want to hear if you’re planning a trip to or from Los Angeles on American Airlines. While the problem does not sound (no pun intended) life-threatening, it is definitely sanity-threatening in these days of air rage, terrorism and short staffing at airports. Could one missed inspection of a PA system be a sign of other potential problems? And what if it is hackers – something various hostile nations have been bragging about? Are we approaching a disaster caused by a virus or a computer system compromised in some other way? As long as we’re speculating, could it be something paranormal? Some irate spirits bent on avenging an airline crash? Aliens toying with ways to mess with our minds?
They may sound like explosive diarrhea or mile-high sex, but until they are resolved, the mysterious and scary noises on American Airlines flights are no joke.