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.
The passenger arrested at Richmond International Airport (RIC) on Wednesday may have had a good excuse for his alleged infraction. Police say that the unidentified flyer who forgot he was carrying a loaded handgun when he arrived at an airport security checkpoint is 80 years of age.
Even the best of us will suffer from an occasional memory lapse as we reach our golden years, but that doesn’t explain the seven other passengers who attempted to bring handguns onto flights departing from the airport this year. Last year, a record 17 firearms were seized from flyers at the RIC.
Fortunately for the octogenarian who was taken into custody this weekend, his “senior moment” occurred just south of the Mason-Dixon line. Although the unnamed flyer was charged both with carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a firearm in an airport terminal, both of those crimes are considered misdemeanors in the jurisdiction where he was charged. According to an airport spokesperson, the weapon was loaded, but there was not a round in the chamber of the .25 caliber handgun.
When he was only 19-years-old, Leonel Vinas was signed by the New York Yankees as a top prospect. Unfortunately for Vinas, it has been mostly downhill since for the now 26-year-old former baseball player. He was released from the Yankees’ minor league farm team after less than two years and now faces a far more serious setback.
This week, the former MLB hopeful was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) after threatening to shoot police in an earlier Instagram post. Vinas was reportedly taken into custody at the airport on Tuesday, shortly before he was scheduled to board a fight to the Dominican Republic.
“HERE’S A MESSAGE,” Vinas wrote in the all caps (and highly incriminating) Instagram post. “I AM GOING TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. THE FIRST COP THAT STOPS ME, IS EITHER GETTING SHOT OR GETTING HI-JACK.”
The post accompanied a photograph of Vinas posing in front of a police car. An off-duty Freeport police officer spotted the troubling social media content and alerted Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police. Although later posts from Vinas reportedly referenced gang-related murders, authorities say that the ill-conceived messages from the one-time Yankee prospect were not related to any sort of gang affiliation. The incident represents a low point in a stunningly rapid fall from grace for the former baseball prodigy.
“They told me, ‘You have a chance to be a Yankee,’ I didn’t believe it, I didn’t think it was true,” Vinas told the New York Post in 2010, during a much brighter time in his life. “But as the season went on it got bigger and bigger and here we are now, my dream come true.”
Because of his allegedly erratic behavior, American Airlines ticket agents reportedly refused to allow a doctor to board his flight departing from Orlando International Airport (MCO) this week. It appears that Dr. Jeffrey Epstein took the airline’s decision as a challenge. According to police, he immediately set out to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that AA agents made the right call in this case.
According to an arrest report, the 59-year-old M.D. unleashed abuse in the form of a profanity-laden rant while refusing to leave the counter after being informed that he would not be allowed to fly. When police arrived, he told airline employees that the “police had come to arrest him.” Authorities say that Epstein set out to make absolutely certain that this was the case and the interaction would result in his ultimate arrest.
Arresting officers noted that the irate physician had “froth around his mouth.” When they asked if he needed medical attention, he “became angrier.”
Although officers say that they originally arrived with the intention of convincing the doctor to calm down and leave the terminal, it quickly became clear that Epstein had other ideas. He allegedly told cops that they would have to arrest him. After struggling with officers, the Florida doctor was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed, before complaining of chest pains.
On the way to the hospital, Epstein reportedly told officers that he had “created a very big disturbance” and “did it on purpose.” This, despite the fact that he was in possession of what the arrest report describes as “a plastic bag of suspected cannabis.”
According to local media reports, Epstein refused treatment at the hospital and was booked into the Orange County Jail instead. In addition to missing his flight, he now faces charges that include assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest with violence, trespassing, disorderly conduct and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.