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Left Holding The Bag: This Week’s Worst Flyers

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 – “You Don’t Put Your Hands on My Flight Attendant”

The passenger who tried to strong-arm an American Airlines flight attendant found out the hard way that he had messed with the wrong crew this week. The pilot of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)-bound flight taught the allegedly drunk and violent passenger a lesson that nearly all bullies eventually learn.

When the abusive traveler reportedly shoved a flight attendant to the floor in an attempt to exit the plane before the aircraft was fully docked, the captain gave the impatient flyer a taste of his own medicine – quickly pinning the out-of-control passenger in the aisle. The humiliated yet still aggressive man continued to struggle and threaten the pilot with violence until authorities arrived to take him away. It seems, however, that the misbehaving flyer had already more than met his his match.

“Whatever you do is going on Facebook, and you’re a … complete … loser,” the Jack Daniels-fueled flyer warned the pilot. “You heard me right the first time.”

Witnesses say that while the defeated aggressor impotently threatened the captain with a “broken jaw,” the crew member handled the situation with action hero-like aplomb. “You don’t put your hands on my flight attendant,” the pilot is said to have starkly explained with a steely stare.

The Runner-up – “I’ll Shoot Everyone on the Plane!”

There is a certain amount of boorish behavior that might be expected to be tolerated on a resort-bound flight on a European low-fare airline. The 50-year-old passenger on an Edinburgh Airport (EDI) to Madeira Airport (FNC)-bound EasyJet flight, however, decidedly crossed the line from obnoxious to dangerous.

The nightmare passenger was reportedly taking pills and downing vodka throughout the trip and at one point even threatened to exit the plane mid-flight. The man’s disruptive behavior allegedly came to head when the he told nearby passengers that he had a gun and announced “I’ll shoot everyone on the plane.”

The captain made the sensible decision to divert for an unscheduled landing at Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS). The crew was careful not to announce the change of course and instead asked passengers to remain in their seats “due to turbulence.” In the meantime, the crew quickly investigated the potential threat and informed the authorities at LIS. No weapon was discovered on the man’s person or in his luggage, but police took the troublesome passenger into custody before returning to take statements from passengers seated near the apparently unstable flyer.

The Winner – “Leave the Bags … Leave the Bags, Leave Everything!”

It’s tough to find fault with the 282 passengers who survived the harrowing and fiery crash landing of an Emirates Boeing 777 at Dubai International Airport (DXB) this week. A video has now surfaced that may call basic human nature into question. The short cellphone video shows panicked passengers desperately opening overhead bins and grabbing carry-on bags before attempting to exit the burning aircraft. Passengers evacuating the aircraft appear in moments after the crash to value personal items far more than the lives of the passengers waiting behind them.

“Leave the bags, please jump and slide, leave the bags,” a crew member can be heard begging passengers to abandon personal items. “Leave everything, please jump and slide. This way, this way.”

It is important to note that the crew of Flight EK521 is credited with quickly and safely emptying the burning plane and saving the lives of hundreds of passengers onboard and a first responder lost his life while successfully saving others’ lives at the scene, but their jobs were clearly not made any easier by passengers who were inexplicably more concerned with material possessions than their own safety or the safety of fellow passengers.

This isn’t the first example of passengers intent on retrieving luggage rather than quickly escaping the very present threat of burning jet fuel. In a piece published prior to the DXB crash, FlyerTalk’s Amanda Pleva quotes National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) statistics stating that nearly half of airline passengers involved in emergency evacuations took time to gather personal items before escaping danger. Pleva, herself a flight attendant, contends that it may be time for tough regulations and stiff penalties to curb this dangerous behavior before it compounds a tragedy.

For the record, there is nothing, not a passport, not jewelry, not even a one-of-a-kind treasure map that is worth delaying an emergency evacuation from a burning plane. Another recent article, however, highlights the fact that passengers are not exactly thinking clearly when faced with disaster. It’s perhaps worth noting that pre-flight safety announcements remind every flyer how to use a seat belt because in a crisis, even this simple task can prove a challenge for some panicked passengers.

No one knows exactly how they would react in an aviation emergency, but fortunately, the professionals in charge have thousands of hours of training so that they know exactly how they will respond if disaster strikes.

[Photo: The Hindu]

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SeatOfMyPants August 9, 2016

I tell my kids, if you are to evacuate a plane and someone is blocking your way getting their bag, you scream "GO!" and push with all your might.