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.
A passenger’s complaint this week about the food at Sydney Airport (SYD) has become the latest viral sensation on social media. Now, ordinarily shining a spotlight on subpar terminal fare would be considered a laudable endeavor, but in this case, the passenger was inexplicably upset that an order of Vegemite toast contained only a trace of the infamously revolting namesake substance.
True enough, photographic evidence proves that the toast in question was served with barely a hint of the yeast and vegetable product, but honestly, however much of the vile concoction was spread on the bread was entirely too much. Vegemite remains very popular in Australia and is an important part of the country’s culinary heritage, even though it objectively tastes remarkably similar to the way a garbage truck smells on a hot day.
“I hate the stuff and even I know that isn’t quite enough,” one news.au.com reader wrote in reference to the brewing vegemite scandal.
By some interpretations of the Geneva Convention, Vegemite should have been banned decades ago. In some cases, the sickly goo is weaponized by being distributed in packets that resemble tiny containers of harmless breakfast jam, but the taste of Vegemite is known to haunt the very soul of anyone who inadvertently consumes it until death finally erases the unspeakable and horrifying experience. This is apparently the fate one disgruntled airport diner (who certainly belongs on some sort of watchlist) has the audacity to wish upon his fellow travelers.
There are a number of good reasons to avoid announcing one’s travel plans on social media before heading to the airport. In some cases, burglars have used passengers’ publicly shared itineraries to rob houses with absolute confidence that the residents won’t be at home. In other cases, nefarious elements have parleyed information about strangers’ travel details into identity theft or making fraudulent purchases.
When Mario Whitehead wrote a post on Facebook about his upcoming trip to Florida, however, he learned an entirely different and unexpected lesson about oversharing on social media. It turns out police had been looking high and low for him for months. The Facebook brag about his upcoming Florida vacation was just the break authorities needed and the fugitive was arrested just prior to his departing flight this week at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE).
Detectives say Whitehead had been on the run since January 25th after he allegedly led police on a high speed chase before eventually crashing his car and escaping on foot. Using much more stealth than he did in his social media posts, Whitehead reportedly turned off his vehicle’s headlights and reached speeds in excess of 110 miles per hour to kick off his brief flight from justice. The not-quite-master-criminal had originally been pulled over for failing to use his turn signal.
In January, an Australian national was arrested at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – Matthew Raoul White was accused of using a layover at the airport to graffiti a number of BART train cars. Police say the alleged vandal, whose pants and shoes reportedly showed clear evidence of spray paint at the time he was taken into custody, is a known member of a notorious tagging crew known as “Get Hectik.” U.S. law enforcement officials say they were tipped off by Australian authorities when White entered the country.
In remarkably similar circumstances, police in Japan say a 27-year-old Australian was arrested at Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT) just this week on suspicion of vandalizing subway cars. Much like his counterpart who was recently arrested in North America, Paul Han was caught at the airport with plenty of fresh evidence of his alleged crimes (in this case, permanent markers, paint, six GoPro cameras, bolt cutters and a headlamp). Han is also believed to be part of an organized Australian graffiti gang (in this case, known as “The Good Fellas”).
It isn’t clear if Australian authorities also tipped off their colleagues in Japan about Han. Police say they are questioning the Australian about at least 30 cases of vandalism involving trains in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Miyagi prefectures.
A man without a boarding pass managed to pass through a security checkpoint at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) this week. To make matters worse, once in the secure area of the terminal, the unidentified trespasser is accused of repeatedly punching a bystander “for no reason,” before taking the victim’s mobile phone and calmly strolling away.
“TSA’s travel document verification procedures were not properly followed at Salt Lake City International Airport on Saturday, March 30,” Homeland Security officials said in a release. “As a result, an individual who was not ticketed for travel gained access to the sterile area of the airport. The individual and his belongings were screened through the security checkpoint with no alarms. TSA will cooperate with law enforcement in its ongoing investigation.”
Authorities did not reveal how the unauthorized passenger was able to slip past TSA screeners without a ticket. Police say, however, that both eyewitness accounts and security footage backed-up the victim’s version of events. The un-ticketed flyer was arrested at the scene on robbery and assault charges.
In November of 2015, a registered sex offender was arrested at the same airport after using another passenger’s ticket to clear the TSA screening checkpoint (even though the woman who was originally issued the boarding pass was a different gender than the man who passed the document off as his own at the security checkpoint). A TSA spokesperson said that while screeners failed to match the boarding pass to the would-be traveler, he was still subjected to the same security screening as any other passenger. “There are multiple layers of security in place,” the agency said at the time in a familiar-sounding statement.
[Image Source: Wikimedia/ Maksym Kozlenko]