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.
Bird strikes are an all-too-common hazard to aviation, but this week, a Virgin Airlines flight headed from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL) to Brisbane Airport (BNE) managed a rare feat. The plane connected with both an eagle and rabbit in midair. Rather than inadvertently discovering an especially high-hopping bunny, it is believed that the eagle was simply carrying lunch in its talons during the unfortunate meeting with a Boeing 737 engine.
The captain reported an “excessive vibration” in the number one engine moments after takeoff. After the crew declared an emergency and the plane returned safely to the airport, maintenance workers soon made the surprising and gruesome multi-species carnage.
The bird of prey appears to be at least partially to blame for this potentially dangerous situation. The rabbit, however, looks to be a completely innocent victim at this stage of the investigation.
In Iceland, they have a very specific name for passengers who obnoxiously disrupt flights with drunken antics – that beautiful word is “flugdolgur.” A passenger on an Iceland Air flight bound for Reykjavík–Keflavík International Airport (KEF) this week appears to have managed to perfectly embody this one-of-a-kind moniker.
According to local media reports, the Worst Flugdolgur of the Week managed to attack a flight attendant, bite a fellow passenger and scratch yet another seat mate, before eventually being restrained. The out-of-control woman was described as “very drunk” as well as “extremely loud and violent throughout the flight.”
Soon after the plane landed in The Land of Fire and Ice, police at KEF arrested the allegedly vicious air traveler. She is now said to be facing a slew of flugdolgur-worthy charges, including, “assault” and “posing a danger to passengers.”
Things rarely end well for Worst Passenger of the Week winners (just ask Mr. Rabbit), but in this case, there was, thankfully, a happy ending for the passenger who insisted that the captain of a JetBlue flight return to the gate so that she could deplane. The flight from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in Costa Rica had reportedly just left the gate when passenger Gwen Wunderlich received word that her dog, Cash had escaped from a dog walker and was loose on the streets of the Big Apple. The Brooklyn dog owner immediately begged crew members to take her back to the terminal so that she could make arrangements to start searching for her six-year-old Chow Chow-mix companion.
“I told the stewardess. I got up, and she was like, ‘Are you sure? We can only turn around for emergencies,’” the 41-year-old recounted to CBS News New York. “I’m like, ‘this is an emergency for me.’”
The captain made the compassionate, but rather inconvenient decision to return to the gate. Wunderlich was reunited with her beloved canine pal just a few hours later.
Wunderlich earned her well-deserved title as a Worst Passenger for delaying an international flight (and possibly for using a cellphone while the plane was taxiing). Cash, on the other hand, distinguished himself as a very-very-good-doggy and a true New Yorker. The lonely pooch was simply looking for a lunch date and was soon found safe-and-sound behind the counter of a neighborhood deli.
There is absolutely no scientific evidence that tossing coins into the engine of a passenger plane will result in good luck, but it’s tough to argue with proven results. Twice that we know of now, superstitious air travelers have narrowly avoided seemingly inevitable misfortune after tossing coins at an aircraft engine prior to boarding their flights.
Earlier this year, a China Southern Airlines flight was grounded at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) after fellow passengers reported that an 80-year-old passenger was spotted tossing coins from the middle of the boarding staircase towards the plane’s jet engine. A subsequent inspection revealed several coins near the engine cowling and a single coin that hit its mark, forcing maintenance workers to disassemble the entire engine to make certain no other lucky charms were likely to become dangerous foreign objects in the air.
On Wednesday, a 76-year-old passenger on a Lucky Air flight at Anqing Tianzhushan Airport (AQG) was spotted tossing coins at the engine as she boarded. When ground crews discovered several coins on the tarmac near the plane’s engine, the good luck ritual quickly resulted in the flight being delayed until the following morning.
So far, both of the superstitious flyers have not only managed to escape serious legal repercussions, but both travelers narrowly avoided boarding an aircraft at risk of a potentially catastrophic mechanical failure (because someone tossed coins in the jet engine). In both instances, the elderly passengers seem to have been extraordinarily lucky by any measurement.