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Worst Passenger of the Week

Worst Passenger of the Week: All I Ever Really Needed to Know About Flying Commercial I Learned in Kindergarten

Worst Passenger of the Week: All I Ever Really Needed to Know About Flying Commercial I Learned in Kindergarten
Jeff Edwards

Every Friday, FlyerTalk looks back at the week’s most charming individuals. While there are always plenty of contenders for our Worst Passenger of the Week award, only one lucky flyer can take home the glory. Here are this week’s winners.

Third Place – Careful, Use Both Hands

A spilled drink is one of those sometimes-unavoidable headaches of modern air travel. This week, however, a carelessly upset beverage caused what might have been a serious inflight emergency.

Passengers on an American Airlines flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) were delayed for more than five hours after a spilled soda forced an unscheduled landing at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). According to the airline, the detour was caused by a careless passenger spilling their drink and inadvertently soaking a nearby power outlet.

Concerns that the accidental spill might present a fire hazard forced the emergency landing shortly after takeoff. An American Airlines spokesperson said that the diversion was made “out of an abundance of caution,” but local media reports confirm that emergency workers were alerted to a possible cockpit fire, and an eyewitness account described flames being visible when the flight touched down.

Preston Wake, a passenger on the flight also disputed the airline’s insistence that a flyer was responsible for the costly beverage mishap. Wake instead blamed a flight attendant for the whole mess. “I can’t really tell you how far it went, but I was soaked,” he recounted to reporters. “I had to change my clothes and everything.”

In the end, the plane landed without incident, so there is really no point in crying over spilled milk (or in this case, soda). After all, no matter who is ultimately determined to be at fault, the incident will go a long way towards making the cost-saving argument that the flying public is nowhere near responsible enough to handle inflight amenities like complimentary beverage service.

The Runner-up – Always Pick Up After Yourself

Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport (ATQ) in Amritsar, India was the site of a massive security response this week. According to media reports, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) units, bomb-sniffing canines and local police descended on a parking structure at the airport when a suspicious piece of abandoned luggage was spotted in the early morning hours on Wednesday.

A large area of the facility was cordoned off for nearly six hours while national, state and local authorities investigated a single unclaimed bag. After inspections using K9 units and bomb detection equipment indicated the abandoned bag might contain explosives, a BDS officer wearing a protective suit was dispatched to retrieve the potentially dangerous item.

Meanwhile, a jet-lagged UK national called to report that he had inadvertently left his bag in the parking lot after arriving at ATQ from Birmingham Airport (BHX).

“As soon as the input came, the CISF and police cordoned the area and thorough precautions were taken,” Police Commissioner Nageshwara Rao told reporters. “The outside area and the parking were vacated. As initially there were signs that the bag may contain some explosive, due precautions were taken and the BDS was called in. But at a time when the BDS was doing its job, an input came that the bag was left behind by a passenger.”

The forgetful flyer was able to helpfully provide authorities the combination to the bag’s lock as well as a list of the mostly harmless items inside the suspect luggage. The bomb squad discovered no sign of explosives after later opening the piece of luggage in a secure chamber.

The Winner – Don’t Give in to Peer Pressure

Two would-be daredevils are likely alive today thanks to authorities who foiled their attempt to stow away in the wheel well of a passenger jet. Security officers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) in Indonesia caught the pair, who had already managed to scale a perimeter fence, loitering on the tarmac. The 20-year-old and 17-year-old adventurers reportedly admitted that they were attempting to hide in the landing gear of an aircraft headed for Singapore.

“They planned to fly by riding the plane’s tires,” an airport official reported. Authorities added that the entire scheme was “inspired by a movie they had watched.”

Although the stunt would have almost certainly resulted in their deaths, the two film buffs were undeterred by both the pre-movie admonishment that “the stunts in this movie were performed by professionals” nor any sort of good sense. It is believed that the attempt might have gone undetected had the two men not been spotted before making their way to the belly of the aircraft in which they unwisely intended to sneak a ride.

In 2015, similar clandestine travel plans were uncovered when a decapitated body was discovered on the roof of a London office building. A subsequent investigation determined that a stowaway from South Africa managed to survive an 8,000 mile journey in the undercarriage of a British Airways passenger jet only to fall to his death shortly before the plane landed at London Heathrow Airport (LHR).

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