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.
EasyJet passengers scheduled to depart Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) for Glasgow Airport (GLA) were delayed for hours after a pesky arachnid stowaway was spotted on the plane just before takeoff. Although being stuck at the airport while crews fumigate and search the aircraft for an exotic insect is not exactly an ideal travel experience, it is also far from a worst case scenario.
Scorpions make terrible airline passengers and for some reason the eight-legged pests are surprisingly frequent flyers. Earlier this year, a United Airlines flight at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) was delayed when a scorpion emerged from a passenger’s clothing during the boarding process. Fortunately in this case, the scorpion returned to the passenger’s outfit where it was found hiding after the aircraft was evacuated. Just weeks later, an Aeroméxico passenger suffered a scorpion sting during a Mexico City International Airport (MEX) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)-bound flight.
Because of the very nature of air travel, inhospitable climates don’t offer much protection from the globe-trotting pests. A United Airlines passenger was treated for a scorpion sting at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and once, an Alaska Airlines passenger was even stung aboard a flight to Portland International Airport (PDX).
In the grand scheme of things, a scorpion sighting on a commercial airliner remains a relatively rare event, but by no means an unheard-of occurrence. It seems almost as if EasyJet officials even had a boilerplate media strategy prepared and ready to go in the event of an all-too-common scorpion sighting.
“We can confirm that a passenger reported to crew that a scorpion was on board,” the airline told reporters in a prepared statement. “The safety and comfort of our passengers and crew is always our highest priority so, as a precaution, the aircraft will be fumigated before its next flight. Although this is outside of our control, we would like apologize for any inconvenience to passengers.”
A passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight at Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) reportedly really, really didn’t want to fasten his seat belt prior to takeoff. Authorities say that David Clyne Dutson not only refused to buckle up, but also physically assaulted a flight attendant who insisted that the 58-year-old follow the familiar FAA regulations that require safety belts fastened, tray tables locked and seats in the upright position before takeoff.
After Dutson allegedly shoved the cabin crew member who dared to ask him to fasten his seatbelt so that the plane could depart, the flight returned to the gate, but the cantankerous flyer wasn’t done insisting on his imagined rights as a passenger. He is said to have refused to leave with officers who arrived to remove him from the plane. Police say they were forced to order all of the passengers to deplane until the stubborn passenger could be persuaded to deplane.
In recap: The passenger did not believe that a flight attendant could order him to fasten his seat belt and soon learned that a flight attendant can very much order him to fasten his seatbelt. Dutson then held fast to the belief that police could not remove him from an airplane seat that he had paid good money for the right to occupy – only to learn that he was also mistaken in this belief. He was then booked into jail, where he is presumably not going to like the rules one bit.
An obnoxious and allegedly intoxicated passenger wasn’t about to let a little thing like arriving at her destination keep her from terrorizing her fellow travelers. Nicola Artley says she was acting in self-defense when she reportedly punched a fellow passenger on her New Castle Airport (NCL) to Alicante–Elche Airport (ALC)-bound Ryan Air flight. The 42-year-old says she was also the victim in a later brawl in which she was captured on video grappling with yet another passenger on the floor in front of baggage claim.
“The video on most websites only shows what happened after I was punched and had a drink thrown over me,” Artley told the Daily Mail. “I was defending myself. If you watch all the other videos, people are screaming and shouting at me. It was like a mob. People were cheering as I was attacked in the airport.”
Ryanair officials, not surprisingly, have a much different take on Artley’s anti-social behavior both during and after the flight.
“The crew of this flight from Newcastle to Alicante requested police assistance upon arrival after a passenger became disruptive inflight,” the airline told the newspaper in a statement. “The aircraft landed normally and the passenger was met by police. We will not tolerate unruly or disruptive behavior at any time and the safety and comfort of our customers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority. This passenger has been banned from flying with Ryanair and this is now a matter for local police.”
Artley managed to avoid being detained when police met the flight upon arrival – despite claims by eyewitnesses that her disruptive inflight behavior culminated with an assault on a fellow passenger. Having dodged any serious repercussions from her performance onboard the plane, she quickly became embroiled in a physical altercation with a different traveler before leaving the airport.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Worst Passenger of the Week’s defense of this objectively indefensible behavior, isn’t that she is denying responsibility – it’s the questionable actions to which she readily (if advertently) admits her guilt.
“I had been awake since 5am,” Artley later explained. “I had had a drink, but all I’d had was two pints and two shots of vodka. I apologize to anyone on that plane if I was being loud. But I wasn’t being abusive until I was attacked. I was probably being loud and I did get into an argument, but it wasn’t me who was violent first.”