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.
When standing up to authority, there is oftentimes safety in numbers. In the case of eleven allegedly misbehaving passengers on an Alaska Airlines fight from Juneau International Airport (JNU) to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA) this week, being part of the herd offered little protection from the consequences of their actions.
It might have helped if the eleven troublemakers chose their battles a bit more carefully. The passengers were booted from the plane, which returned to the gate prior to takeoff, for defiance that bordered on petulance. The ejected passengers were reportedly guilty of a host of senseless infractions including refusing to unplug mobile phones, declining to place seatbacks and tray tables in the upright and locked positions and in some cases, outright rejecting to the notion of fastening safety belts.
Those on the flight say the eleven boorish flyers capped off their rude and potentially unsafe performance by playing loud music and making “inappropriate comments” to flight attendants. The travel companions were said to be part of a larger entourage – some of whom apparently did not misbehave and were permitted to remain on the flight.
“While this situation does not happen every day, it’s not uncommon for us to have to remove passengers if they’re behaving in a disruptive manner or not following crew member instructions,” the airline told the Alaska Dispatch News in a statement. “To us, this is a safety issue — if a customer will not comply with crew member requests on the ground, it’s not safe for us to allow them to fly until they demonstrate that they’re willing to follow basic safety instructions.”
Despite creating a major inconvenience for those on the flight who had no problems following the rules, the left-behind passengers were reportedly able to catch another flight to SEA later the same day.
An elderly China Southern Airlines passenger’s attempt to bring “blessings” to her journey from Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) this week, ended up being anything but a blessing for her fellow passengers. The 80-year-old flyer’s “good luck” ritual caused a delay of more than five hours.
Passengers making their way to the flight were understandably concerned when they spotted the woman tossing coins from the middle of the boarding stairs towards the jet engine and sensibly alerted crew members. A cursory investigation revealed that several coins had fallen short of the intended target, but at least one coin was found in the engine. For the next several hours, maintenance crew worked to ensure that no other coins were hidden in the jet engine where the tiny metal discs could potentially cause a disaster.
The airline was less than grateful for the woman’s somewhat mystic attempt to ensure a safe flight. Police were summoned and the elderly traveler was taken away for questioning. She is said to have explained to officials that she had simply tossed the coins into the jet engine as part of a preflight prayer.
While the ceremonial act of tossing metal coins into a jet engine is unarguably dangerous, the efforts most certainly created at least some good luck for at least one passenger – police confirmed that the well-intentioned but misguided traveler will not be criminally charged over the incident.
This Worst Passenger of the Week winner certainly isn’t the first to attempt to open a plane’s door in flight and it should, of course, be noted that it’s physically impossible to open an emergency exit on a passenger jet while the plane is airborne, but the disruptive flyer on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) this Monday, really, really tried her best to accomplish the impossible.
“Oh yeah, she tore off a piece of it,” Henrietta Mokwuah, a passenger on the flight told ABC News. “There was the frame, that was on the door. She ended up breaking it off.”
Eyewitnesses say that prior to her ill-advised attempt to exit the cabin at 35,000 feet, the unidentified traveler was already behaving erratically. Fellow passengers reported that she was pacing up and down the aisle and ranting about government experiments that left her stricken with only the ability to walk backwards.
The incident onboard the flight, which was forced to make an unscheduled stop at Corpus Christi International Airport (CRP), begs serious questions about why the obviously unstable passenger was permitted to board the plane in the first place. One passenger on the flight was so concerned about the unidentified woman’s unhinged behavior that he shot video of her at LAX shortly before boarding. The footage appears to show the woman who was later led from the plane by police at CRP. In the brief video, she can be seen talking loudly to her self and apparently attempting to pick a fight with an unseen bystander. At one point, she is heard shouting, “You can laugh all you want, lady!” at another passenger.
An off-duty police officer from Cleveland is being hailed as a hero for her part in bringing the rampaging flyer to heel while the captain was busy preparing to make an emergency landing at an airport less than an hour away from IAH. The flight was reportedly delayed on the ground for several hours before passengers were eventually taken to their original destination. The troubled passenger who caused the whole ordeal is said to have been taken to a nearby hospital for a mental health evaluation.