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Worst Passenger of the Week Goes to the Raging Seat Poacher

Worst Passenger of the Week Goes to the Raging Seat Poacher
Jeff Edwards

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 column, only one lucky flyer can take home the glory.

Honorable Mention: Your Giant Shampoo Bottle is Destroying the Environment!

On one hand, the TSA should perhaps be lauded for making a very public effort to help protect the environment. The agency unveiled a campaign this week to shame passengers who arrive at airports with liquids in bottles larger than the 3.4 ounces or 100 ml permitted in carry-on bags. It seems that the flyers who don’t follow this particular rule really are the worst. These inconsiderate air travelers are not only slowing the screening process, but apparently harming sea turtles as well.  

“We are encouraging travelers to be aware of the contents of their carry-on bags, to familiarize themselves with the rules on traveling with liquids and to take appropriate steps prior to coming to the security checkpoint to ensure they undergo the screening process quickly and efficiently,”  TSA Federal Security Director for Washington Jeff Holmgren said in a statement kicking off the initiative. “People in the Pacific Northwest are eco-conscious and strive to be environmentally friendly in all areas of their lives. The travel experience should be no different.”

On the other hand, all the confiscated plastic bottles of mouthwash from every airport in the world couldn’t do half the environmental damage as a government agency that forces millions of travelers to purchase single-use toiletry items nearly every time they fly. Of course, the TSA isn’t exactly known for letting real-life determine policy.

Third Place: Oops, I Confused the Diaper Bag for the Gun Case

On one hand, a passenger at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) had a seemingly reasonable explanation why he showed up at an airport security checkpoint with a loaded handgun this week. The flyer, who was traveling with a toddler, told screeners that he had inadvertently grabbed the wrong bag.  

“When the TSA officers spotted the gun, they contacted the Port Authority Police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm and detained the man for questioning before arresting him on weapons charges,” the Homeland Security agency reported. “The man, who was traveling with a toddler, told officials that he took his friend’s carry-on bag by mistake. Police took care of the child during the incident.”

On the other hand, everyone involved seems to have done a very poor job of keeping track of a loaded firearm. The risk of a passenger accidentally bringing the weapon onto a plane pales in comparison to the tragedy that could have resulted if the misplaced gun had been discovered by the toddler rather than airport screeners.  

The Runner-up: Sir, Is That a Missile Launcher in Your Bag?

On one hand, active duty service members are absolutely due special consideration when traveling. Allowing military members (who sometimes spend long periods of time away from their families and often risk their lives in service for the country) to move to the front of the line at the airport is a well-earned privilege. Nobody is likely to object if a solider traveling home from abroad brings a few extra carry-on items as gifts for the loved ones left behind. Unfortunately, there are still certain rules that apply to everyone no matter the sacrifices they may have made for this great nation in the past. 

“TSA officers immediately contacted airport police who tracked down the traveler and detained him for questioning,” the TSA said in a release. “The man, a resident of Jacksonville, Texas, told officials that he was active-duty military personnel traveling home from Kuwait and he wanted to keep the missile launcher as a souvenir.”

On the other hand, attempting to bring an artillery weapon onto a commercial flight just seems like pressing one’s advantage. Stopping passengers from boarding planes with an, albeit non-working, missile launcher seems to be the very least we should expect from TSA airport screeners. 

The Winner: The Old “Finders Keepers” Argument Never Fails 

On one hand, the passenger forcibly removed from a Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)-bound American Airlines flight at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), deserves some credit for sticking to his convictions. The flyer who allegedly poached a fellow passenger’s seat and refused to leave  – even after authorities arrived was caught on camera taking a stand for homesteaders’ rights despite the deck being very much stacked against him.  

“Don’t force me,” the determined flyer can be heard shouting as he is being physically removed from the aircraft. “Don’t violate my freedom. That’s my seat. You don’t like it. Switch it and I’ll stay on the plane and I’ll go.”

On the other hand, neither this flyer’s impotent rage nor his impassioned, profanity-laced pleas for justice accomplished anything to help his cause and instead only managed to inconvenience a plane full of air travelers, who all had to disembark before the trespasser could be forcibly evicted from the seat he was squatting in.  In the end, the determined passenger referred to only as “Peter,” was provided an alternate place to sit when police handcuffed him to a nearby wheelchair.   


[Featured Image: YouTube/ John Gilbert]

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