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 business class passenger on Swiss International Airlines Flight LX 1327 this week from Moscow Domodedovo International Airport (DME) to Zürich Kloten Airport (ZRH) was determined to get every premium cabin perk that was coming to her, but when the demanding flyer wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, she may have ended up getting exactly what she deserved. The 44-year-old Swiss woman’s alleged tantrum after being told that she couldn’t have any more complimentary champagne soon resulted in the plane making an emergency diversion to Stuttgart Airport (STR) where the sparkling wine enthusiast was removed from the aircraft.
The irate flyer reportedly became so dismayed at the lack of wine service that she began to pace back and forth about the cabin and even physically accosted a crew member prior to the emergency landing in Germany. Her inability to control her frustration over the cabin crew’s stinginess with the open bar resulted in the disgruntled air traveler being slapped with a fine of nearly $6000 – more than enough money to buy a few exceptional bottles of Dom Perignon.
A series of messy weather delays made a British Airways business class lounge at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) a bit less “calm and tranquil” than advertised this week. Snowstorms on Sunday resulted in more than 100 of the airline’s flights being delayed and also caused some frayed nerves in the queue for apple juice.
When the crowd of delayed premium cabin flyers reportedly objected to being given contradictory information about the lounge’s closing time, workers wasted no time summoning police. According to eyewitnesses, armed officers arrived without warning to clear the lounge of troublemakers.
“British Airways closed the first class lounge at 22.30 and everyone was asked to go to normal business lounge upstairs where food and all alcoholic drinks had been removed,” one member of the short-lived rebellion told reporters. “At 23.00 we were told by lounge manager that we must be out of that lounge by 23.30. It was shortly after that when a number of armed police arrived in lounge.”
British Airways officials say that despite appearances, police were not called to help put down a passenger revolt. The airline insists that there was in fact a perfectly innocent reason for the closing-time police action in the business class lounge. A company spokesperson noted that the armed officers were “not called upon to help with any problems, they simply offered their assistance as escorts to help customers leave as quickly as possible.”
Nicotine can be a powerfully addictive drug, but it seems possible that the passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight from Portland International Airport (PDX) to Sacramento International Airport (SMF) may have had some bigger issues than just the need for a smoke. The agitated smoker flew into a rage after a flight attendant reportedly caught her smoking in the lavatory after authorities say the 23-year-old had disabled the smoke detector.
Valarie Curbelo’s ensuing meltdown was of course captured on cell phone video so that all of social media can enjoy her antics. Highlights of her onboard performance include Curbelo attempting to remove an overhead oxygen mask and screaming at cabin crew members as well as innocent bystanders before she was eventually physically restrained.
“I have a destination for myself, and I need to go there,” Curbelo can be heard ranting in the footage. “I swear if you don’t land, I will f**king kill everybody on this f**king plane!”
The airline confirmed the bizarre incident, but indicated that the situation was never out of control despite the fact that fellow passengers were recruited to help restrain the cigarette smoker run amok.
“Our Crew in command of Flight 2943 traveling from Portland on Saturday afternoon safely landed on-time in Sacramento following an inflight disturbance,” the airline said in a massive understatement. “Our reports from Flight Attendants indicate a Customer violated federal laws by both smoking onboard an aircraft and by tampering with a smoke detector in an aircraft restroom. Our Crew enforced the regulation and that was followed by the passenger outburst. The safety of our Crew and Passengers is our top priority and we take all threats seriously. The Pilots declared an emergency to receive priority handling from air traffic controllers, and our crew handled the situation onboard until the plane landed and local authorities stepped in.”
The captain declared an emergency and requested priority landing. When the aforementioned authorities boarded the aircraft, Curbelo was arrested and taken to jail on felony charges.
A troubled passenger this week turned a cross-country flight into a scene worthy of a George A. Romero film. Things on the JetBlue flight bound from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) appear to have started off fairly routinely, but as Los Angeles CBS News affiliate KCBS aptly summarized firsthand accounts of the events that followed, “… somewhere over Utah, the man suddenly began biting his seat mates.”
Among the rampaging passenger’s first victims were his travel companions. Other nearby flyers were also attacked as the passenger, who was clearly in distress, continued to violently lash out at everyone in sight. Doctors on the flight attempted to examine the man for any signs of what might have caused him to turn dangerously aggressive without warning. Unfortunately, the medical workers were also attacked by the rampaging passenger.
Other passengers stepped in to help cabin crew members to bring the riotous passenger to heel. Meanwhile, the captain decided it might be best to divert to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) where the disruptive flyer was escorted from the flight by police.
“I grabbed his hands behind his back and held him there while the flight attendants put the restraints on him,” a passenger on the flight, who claims he rushed to assist crew members, told the television station – as if he were describing the early days of the zombie apocalypse. “At that point, he started yelling and tried to come towards the flight attendant, behind me, at the time. I really had a hell of a time keeping him in place there.”
JetBlue officials had decidedly less flair for the dramatic in their description of the incident. “The customer was escorted off the aircraft,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement. “Remaining customers resumed their scheduled flight to New York without further incident.”