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Episode on a Plane

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"Ooh, isn't it a great day to be HURLED THROUGH THE AIR, 23 billion feet above the Earth with — what do you know — a very, very thin shell of aluminum between you, AND A TEN MINUTE SCREAMING DROP, to an abrupt stop?"
Red Guy, Cow and Chicken

Okay, you're the writer / director / producer / executive / all of the above of a hit TV show. You want to do something different to create some tension and drama and/or humor in an episode and you don't want a Very Special Episode or a Clip Show and you don't want to spend all the money to take the whole cast and crew on location to Disney World / Hawaii / Jamaica / Springfield. A lightbulb switches on in your brain: set the episode on a plane.

This is fairly easy to do because it requires a very limited amount of sets; the limited space on a plane creates close quarters, which can create Dramatic Tension, especially if one of the main characters is deathly afraid of flying. Also, there can be accidents in a plane's bathroom, and that can help with comedic sequences. So writers/directors/producers/all of the above can get a lot of drama on a lower budget.

See also Death in the Clouds, Mile-High Club and all the other Tropes on a Plane.

A subtrope of Bottle Episode.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Case Closed:
    • The "New York Arc" started with a flashback where Shinichi solves a variant "locked room mystery" that takes place on a plane.
    • A case featuring a disgruntled former relief pitcher was solved when Conan realizes that the suspect had taken the same flight they did.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: The group's first attempt to head towards Egypt by airplane gets hindered when Gray Fly uses his Tower to attack.
    • Golden Wind: The fight against Carne's Notorious B.I.G takes place entirely on a airplane.
    • Stone Ocean: Donatello uses his Under World to trap Jolyne and Ermes in a memory of a plane that's going to crash.
  • One episode of Patlabor: The TV Series takes place almost entirely on the plane Kanuka Clancy is taking back to America... but it never actually gets off the ground due to an overeager hijacker making his move a little early.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1987): While Donna and Hippolyta are fighting Darkseid's forces in space Steve Trevor and Etta Candy are on a relaxing flight home, which becomes much less relaxing when the flight crew carries out a Suicide Pact that leaves the plane without a pilot or co-pilot. This forces Steve to land the plane, and while he's an experienced pilot that doesn't mean he's flown this commercial craft before.

    Fan Works 

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Part of The Getaway deals with Greg's first plane ride. He is seated between a family with a baby, has fantasies about everything that could go wrong, has a bathroom break ruined by turbulence, and is not happy with only getting pretzels for food.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Once in 24, Jack Bauer had to hijack a plane for some reason. He was up to his usual shenanigans on the plane for about an episode or two.
  • The A-Team: In the Season 1 episode "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing", the A-Team has to stop a group of six hijackers from holding a plane ransom and dumping it in the ocean. B. A. was supposed to be on the ground, but he accidentally ended up on the plane and went into temporary paralysis. Murdock's eyes got wounded when a gun discharged in his face (and shot a hole in the plane), so Hannibal had to land the plane at LAX while Murdock talked him through the whole thing with his eyes closed, proving that Murdock can fly any kind of aircraft and leading to a Moment of Awesome.
  • An episode in the fourth season of Bones had Booth and Brennan solve a murder on a flight to China and they had to race against the clock because once the plane landed, it would no longer be in U. S. jurisdiction.
  • Broad City has "Jews on a Plane", in which Abbi and Ilana take a Birthmarc trip to Israel, and Abbi gets her period mid-flight without access to tampons.
  • Castle and Alexis spend an episode on a plane where an air marshall has been murdered and they try to figure out which of the passengers is the killer.
  • Chuck season 3 had the one where he fought "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
  • CSI had a couple, one where several passengers ganged up on another whom they thought was a hijacker and one involving the death of a horse in the cargo bay.
  • CSI: Cyber had "404: Flight Not Found", which is somewhat a subversion, as none of the main cast actually sets foot on the plane in question; the high-tech plane was cyber-hijacked in a plot to assassinate a girl in Witness Protection, and the team has to identify the hacker and thwart them remotely (with help from the Air Marshal on board, and a passenger with a military background after the Marshal is taken out of the picture by the hijacker).
  • CSI: NY's episode, "Turbulence" featured a man stabbed to death in the lavatory during a flight Mac is on.
  • In an episode of Dead Like Me, Mason and Roxy spend most of the episode on a plane because they have reaper assignments there, and due to constant delays, the plane never even leaves the ground.
  • Done on The Dead Zone, where Johnny tries frantically to prevent the plane from crashing.
  • Emergency! had one with the paramedics treating an in-flight emergency.
  • In Father Ted: "Flight Into Terror," Dougal visits an airliner cockpit and (apparently) presses the Big Red Button that dumps the main fuel supply, and Ted has to climb outside the plane in midair to connect the emergency fuel tank. The best scene: There are only two parachutes on board, and Ted holds an essay writing competition to decided who gets the parachutes... Jack steals both of them — one for himself and the other for the drinks trolley.
  • One episode of Flashpoint involved a group of terrorists who hijacked a plane and were holding the passengers hostage in exchange for the release of their leader.
  • Friends did a couple of these with the trips to and from London for Ross's wedding (featuring a cameo from none other than Hugh Laurie and Ross and Rachel's shared trip down to Las Vegas.
  • Get Smart. In "Closely Watched Planes," Max and 99 have to figure out how Control couriers can be disappearing in mid-flight.
  • One episode of The Golden Girls takes place (mostly) on a plane, where the girls are all forced to confront their biggest fears: Dorothy of flying, Rose of public speaking, and Blanche of bald men.
  • Goosebumps (1995): There's an episode called "More Monster Blood", in which the ravenous green Blob Monster is released onboard a passenger plane and proceeds to devour everyone. This plot was exclusive to the series.
  • House “Airborne" had House and Cuddy stuck on a plane when a strange epidemic started breaking out among the passengers. House replaces his usual team with three passengers on the plane. He tells one of them to say "crikey" and agree with everything he says, one of them is to disagree with everything House says, and the third passenger must be morally outraged at everything he says.
  • Human Target has "Rewind", where the team needs to prevent a murder on a plane to Seattle. Differing only in that the former plane almost crashed deliberately, as part of the plot, while the latter plane only almost crashed cause a stray bullet started a fire.
  • A first-season episode of The Incredible Hulk ("747") takes place almost entirely aboard a plane. Not only that, but David Banner single-handedly thwarts a hi-jacking and brings the plane down safely, even managing to become the Hulk in mid-flight — twice.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has "The Gang Beats Boggs," in which the gang tries to beat Wade Boggs's record of drinking 70 beers in a cross-country flight. In season 13, the show does a Gender Flip on the episode by having Dee lead the female characters of the show to do their own version, spoofing the Hollywood fad of gender-flipped movie reboots like Ghostbusters (2016) and Ocean's 8.
  • The It Takes a Thief (1968) episode "Project 'X'" is Ten Little Murder Victims on a plane, complete with a Green Aesop.
  • JAG: An Oceanic Airlines (how typical) flight to Seoul gets hijacked by South Korean radicals in 5th season episode "The Bridge at Kang So Ri." Luckily enough our heroes take care of the situation.
  • John Doe, with the tagline "How do you solve a mystery at 30,000 feet!?" The answer being, of course, by knowing everything, as usual.
  • The Cold War-era Kraft Suspense Theatre episode "The Kamchatka Incident" is largely set on an American military air transport plane headed from Tokyo to Seattle. Engine trouble forces the plane into Soviet airspace, which might not end well for the Russian defector on board.
  • Leverage has "The Mile High Job", where the team needs to prevent a coverup murder on a plane to the Caiman Islands.
  • Naturally, Lost has had a couple of these. The flashbacks in the pilot were all to the moments before the plane broke up in mid-air. "Exodus" shows all the characters boarding the plane. Much of "316" takes place on the plane on which the Oceanic 6 return to the island. The first half of "LA X" features the alternate 815 in midair; the second half is set in the airport.
  • One Series 4 Episode of MacGyver (2016) titled "Kid + Plane + Cable + Truck", takes this concept and runs with it as the team have to try and board one plane from another plane while both are in flight so they can help the occupants of the first plane to land safely.
  • On the Married... with Children third season episode "The Gypsy Cried," Marcy is warned by a fortuneteller not to go on a planned business trip, as the fortuneteller had a vision that she would die in a plane crash. In order to ensure her survival, she and Steve agree to purchase extra tickets for the Bundys to go along with her as "good-luck charms." Hilarity and turbulence ensue.
  • There's a Monk episode where Monk discovers that a fellow passenger on an airplane killed his wife and, during the flight, killed another passenger, and had to prove it from the air, before the plane lands and the killer gets away.
  • The NCIS episode "Jet Lag," complete with the murder of an air marshal and the attempted murder of a federally protected witness.
  • In a similar vein is the NCIS: Los Angeles episode "767", complete with armed terrorists.
  • NTSF:SD:SUV::: The episode "Comic Con Air" spoofs the movie Con Air, except this time the prisoner transport plane is taken over by a group of Evil Nerds.
  • The Other Two: Chase's album launch takes place on a plane full of fans and livestreams, and the whole episode takes place on the trip.
  • Person of Interest has "C4," where Reese, currently on a break from working for The Machine due to Carter's death, ends up on a flight to Italy where he has to protect the designer of a website that's absolutely not Silk Road from cartel assassins. Also ends in the "have to stop them from crashing the plane as a last ditch measure" variant.
  • Seinfeld has a classic episode set on a plane, where Jerry gets bumped up to first class and Elaine is stuck in coach.
  • Small Wonder had "Vicki and the Skyjacker", with Art Linkletter among the passengers. It was during the production of this episode that the series' cancellation was announced.
  • Series 6 of Spooks had an episode where Adam and Ros board a flight from London to Tehran to hunt down a courier taking nuclear secrets to Iran. Even worse, the UK government had to allow the plane to fly without lightning shielding, or else risk a chemical attack on London. As luck would have it, the plane flies right into a thunderstorm over Turkey.
  • "Phantom Traveler," the fourth episode of the first season of Supernatural where Sam and Dean had to stop a demon that took down planes forty minutes into flight. Dean freaked out the whole time because he is terrified of flying.note 
  • Part 1 of the Titus two-parter "Insanity Genetic."
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Private Channel", Keith Barnes learns from his telepathic Walkman that Mr. Williams plans to blow up the plane on which they are both passengers.
  • Victorious: The episode "Wi-Fi in the Sky" is about Tori using the plane's Wi-Fi to contact her friends and try to finish their group project.
  • In an episode of The West Wing, Air Force One (the presidential jet) couldn't land during "Angel Maintenance" because of possible landing gear problems. "The Portland Trip" also involves most of the Senior Staff on an overnight flight aboard the plane as they head to Portland.
  • The Whodunnit? (UK) episode "Nothing to Declare". While all of the questioning takes place in the airport, all of the flashbacks are set on the airliner.

  • "Submarino Soluble", from Indio Solari's El Perfume de la Tempestad, is about Solari's own fear of being on a plane, Solari himself suffering from claustrophobia.

    Video Games 
  • The second episode of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth takes place on an unusually large airplane both while it is en route and after it has landed.
  • EXTRAPOWER: One early episode in Attack of Darkforce takes place during an international flight, when they get attacked by Spy Flies at 36,000 feet.
  • Mega Man Battle Network: In the second game, the airplane chapter has Lan's flight back home getting interrupted when an agent of Gospel hijacks the controls to make it crash while Mega Man rushes to the source to save everyone.

    Western Animation 
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: "A Wing and a Scare" has Ickis, Krumm, and Oblina being forced to sneak onto an airplane to get at their latest scare target. By the end of the episode, the main monster trio accidentally scare all the passengers on the place when Krumm causes some engine problems, but the Gromble sees through the Loophole Abuse — people are supposed to be scared of monsters, not airplanes — and subjects them to a Here We Go Again!.
  • American Dad!: In "Home Adrone", Francine, Hailey, and Roger waiting in an airplane to take flight after getting delayed. Their takeoff gets delayed further after an airport security guard demands everyone searches for a missing girl (one of Roger's disguises), much to their chagrin.
  • Caillou: "Caillou Rides an Airplane" which features Caillou and his family riding on a plane while going on vacation. He gets to have breakfast on a plane, plays with Boris's and even gets to watch how the pilot flies the plane, (which would no longer be possible after 9/11).
  • Clarence: "Plane Excited" involves Clarence, Mary and Chad flying from Aberdale to Orlando on a plane, and it's also the latter's first time flying on a plane, and he's afraid of flying, and it quickly turns bad during the end when the pilots let Chad and Clarence mess-around in the cockpit.
  • Count Duckula has the episode, "Hi-Duck", where Duckula, Nanny, and a reluctant Igor prepare to travel by airplane for a castle-free holiday to Nice. When the plane they are on gets hijacked by the bumbling French crooks, Gaston and Pierre, Duckula inadvertently foils their plan and is praised as a hero. Unfortunately, Duckula has to return to Transylvania to hand the crooks over to the authorities and serve as the star witness in their trial.
  • Cow and Chicken had an episode that takes place in a plane, and it all happens when the plane was still on the ground.
  • The DuckTales (2017) episode "The Last Crash of the Sunchaser!" takes place almost entirely on the titular plane, with the the cast having to deal with it getting stuck on the tip of a mountain (in addition to more pressing interpersonal relationships).
  • Garfield and Friends: In "Skyway Robbery", Jon intends to travel to Miami by plane with Garfield and Odie, but is unable to pay for the standard flight due to its high price, so Al Swindler offers Jon a cheaper flight with what little money he has. Garfield and Odie realize that Jon is being swindled, but since they can't speak, Jon doesn't listen, and when try they to leave Jon, he drags them into the plane. The plane is cheap and broken, and when it finally does get into the air, it begins to malfunction and Swindler parachutes off it. Panicking, Jon calls the Air Travel Control, and with the Italian food hints the air traffic controller gives, Garfield successfully manages to land the plane, only to end up in the South Pole. A stubborn Jon refuses to go back inside the plane and tries to find a place to stay, until he, Garfield, and Odie see Swindler again and rush back into the plane to fly away.
  • Johnny Bravo episode "The Man Who Cried Clown". Johnny was the only character who knew there was a clown performing some antics at the plane's wing (a reference to The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"). After several attempts, he finally rids of it, only to learn from the plane's crew said plane was so irregular it needed a clown on each wing and, since the clown at the other wing alone wasn't enough to provide safe landing, Johnny had to replace the missing clown.
  • Kaeloo: The episode "Let's Play Air Pockets", where Stumpy and Quack Quack go on a plane piloted by Mr. Cat, with Kaeloo as an air hostess. Mr. Cat jumps out of the plane using the only parachute they had and leaves them to die.
  • "When Magoo Flew" was an installment of the Mr. Magoo series that had the nearly-blind Magoo wander onto an airplane, thinking he's going to the movies.
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches: "Rock'n Roll Altitude". Oggy, who has severe fear of flying for the purposes of this episode, goes on a flight with Jack. The cockroaches sneak aboard, Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Electric Company (1971)'s animated segment, "The Adventures of Letterman," had one episode set on a plane. The series' villain, the Spellbinder, pulls off what today would be considered an act of terrorism: Spotting a plane with an elementary school class (along with teachers, the principal and chaperones) going on a cross-country trip, Spellbinder decides to change the "e" in plane to "t," creating "plant." The plant begins a freefall from 30,000 feet, the Spellbinder laughs at the situation(!) and the pilot to cry out to the control tower for help, knowing that the situation is hopeless. Never fear: Letterman shows up in time to restore the "e" in plane and the flight to continue on uneventfully. note 
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • "De Plane! De Plane!" involves the title characters making an airplane out of paper maché to beat out Howard Hughes' Hughes H-4 Hercules, which was derisively called the "Spruce Goose". Later they fly it, with Phineas and Ferb as pilot and co-pilot, and Isabella, Baljeet, and the Fireside Girls as flight attendants and floor show performers.
    • The first part of the two-part episode "Where's Perry" begins with the gang traveling from Danville to Africa on a jet airplane. This is brief, but it does cap off with a fun gag on Candace in fetal position on the luggage conveyor belt because of her trauma of having no cell service waiting for Jeremy to call. Another married couple attempts to pick her up.
      Mother: No, dear, our daughter's blonde. Here she is!//
Daughter: (also on the conveyor belt in fetal position) Eighteen hours with no texting...
  • Rocko's Modern Life:
    • In "Jet Scream", Rocko and Heffer travel by plane to a comic book convention in Las Vegas. Rocko endures every bad plane flight cliche (prior to 9/11 and the resulting changes) known to man, from losing his luggage (it ended up on another planet) to dealing with a bratty kid (the passengers cheer when an exasperated Rocko stuffs him in an overhead bin) to the plane going into a dive.
    • In "The Big Answer", Rocko and Heffer hold Filburt's bachelor party on a plane-themed ice cream parlor, which somehow takes off.
    Filburt: Mayday, mayday! We're going down like a lead rake. And we can't fly, my friend ate too much ice cream, and my friend's from Australia! Wait a minute, this is a pig.
  • We Bare Bears: The episode “Baby Bears on a Plane”, features, well, the baby bears sneaking onto a plane to Sweden and getting into the expected shenanigans.

"Enough... is enough! I've had it with this motherfucking episode on this motherfucking plane! Everyone strap in!... I'm about to open some fuckin' windows."