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Worst Passenger of the Week: A Good Doggy Gone Bad

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 – Flying Troll Attacks Good Samaritan

Much like a misbehaving child, Drexel University Professor George Ciccariello-Maher seems determined to get attention in any way possible. The self-described “radical political theorist” is at again, this time creating controversy out of thin air after witnessing a fellow passenger give up a seat in the first class cabin to allow a uniformed member of the armed forces to fly in the front of the plane as a thank you for the soldier’s service.

The professor was inspired to post inflammatory comments to social media after witnessing the gesture of good will on a recent flight. “Some guy gave up his first class seat for a uniformed soldier,” Ciccariello-Maher wrote on Sunday. “People are thanking him. I’m trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul.”

The pot-stirring professor from the school’s History and Politics Department last grabbed headlines after posting “All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide” on his Twitter account in December. After his comments were widely condemned, including by his own employer, Ciccariello-Maher dismissed the controversy, explaining that his comments were misunderstood and had been intended to be taken as satire.

Whether or not his latest comments were intended as political theater as well, the tweet has created a firestorm of controversy. Right-wing media sources quickly seized on the comments. It seems that this time, Ciccariello-Maher may have succeeded only in creating a ready-made straw man to be used as an argument against anyone who might wish to offer a reasoned objection to the current US drone policy. More importantly, the proactive educator managed to unite political rivals on both sides of the aisle. His comments managed to offend nearly everyone regardless of their particular partisan leanings.

The Runners-up – The Fine Print in the Fashion Statement

A tempest in a teapot became an all-out media storm this week after a United Airlines gate agent reportedly denied boarding to two young girls who arrived for their flight wearing leggings. News of the incident soon upset feminists, fashionistas and frequently flyers alike. Later information that the dress code enforcement action was taken because the two offending passengers were using an employee’s travel benefits for their air travel was lost in the rush to judgement.

The story soon became a public relations nightmare for the airline. Rivals like Delta Airlines and athletic wear manufacturer Adidas were quick to pile on.

Airline employees offered the most vocal support of the airline’s decision. Those who work in aviation circles are understandably protective of their oftentimes generous travel benefits but the reaction to the incident struck a nerve with many in the industry.

The rules of conduct, dress and etiquette for those flying for free (or nearly free) are made clear to anyone flying on employee passes. The consequences of violating those rules can range from being denied boarding to losing travel privileges permanently.

Dress codes for non-rev (no revenue) passengers have actually relaxed quite a bit over the years; still, many employees have special outfits in their closet specifically for traveling on employee passes. Any veteran airline employees who can remember dressing their kids in child-sized business suits or politely telling a flight attendant to check with paying passengers before offering them an inflight meal choice have a little trouble working up sympathy for the sportswear-clad, grounded travelers who couldn’t be bothered to dress a bit more business casual and a little less yoga classroom.

The Winner – This Smuggling Scheme Hinged on K9 Professional Courtesy

An unaccompanied dog immigrating from Puerto Rico was unwittingly roped into an ill-fated drug running scheme that was broken up by authorities at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) this week. Two men were arrested after attempting to claim the mixed-breed dog from an American Airlines flight upon arrival at the airport. When the dog arrived from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), authorities discovered more than $1 million worth of heroin hidden in a false compartment in the canine’s crate.

“It’s alleged that man’s best friend was used in an attempt to smuggle drugs into the city,” district attorney Richard Brown told reporters following the bust. “But great police work led to the seizure of more than 10 kilograms of heroin concealed within a dog crate.”

Prosecutors say that 35-year-old Samuel Seabrooks and 27-year-old Carlos Betancourt-Morales are now facing charges including drug possession and conspiracy. Brown confirmed that the male mixed-breed dog was an unwitting victim and will not be prosecuted for his role in the failed contraband smuggling operation.

Although police didn’t give any indication that the dog was used to conceal the contraband other than being housed in the drug-laden pet carrier, NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad is said to have also participated in the sting. According to prosecutors, the jet-lagged, good dog was handed over to the ASPCA shortly after his big adventure.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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