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Worst Passenger of the Week: Not OK in Oklahoma

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: Poison Pen Letter

The world’s busiest airport came to a near standstill on Saturday morning when a “threatening note” was discovered aboard a Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)-bound American Airlines flight prior to departure. Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) report that a ground stop was briefly in place while police investigated the situation.

After passengers on the plane were re-screened by TSA and the plane was searched by law enforcement, it was eventually determined that there were no indications of any apparent security issues on the aircraft. The plane was permitted to depart following the security checks and the airport resumed normal operations before any serious delays were encountered.

Authorities say no one was arrested in connection with the incident and have not yet released details about the content of the threatening note. It seems likely, however, that the anonymous author of the troublesome missive managed to escape the consequences of his or her actions – at least for now.

3rd Place: Plastered and Pepper Sprayed

An allegedly intoxicated passenger at Oslo Airport (OSL) really, really wanted to be on board an Air Baltic flight when it departed for Riga International Airport (RIX). Authorities say the man not only brutally forced his way onto the plane, but that coaxing him off the aircraft was no easy task.

“We received an alert at 8:30am of a drunk man pushing staff and breaking through a door to the gate,” police spokesperson Ronny Samuelsen told reporters. “He got onto a plane to Riga.”

When officers arrived on the scene, the unidentified man refused to leave the plane that he had gone through no small amount of effort to board. Eventually, the other passengers on the flight were taken back to the terminal and police employed pepper spray to convince the squatter to give up his seat. The trespassing passenger soon after agreed to leave the plane for first aid treatment.

Unfortunately, passengers scheduled to fly to Latvia were in for an even longer delay. According to media reports, the plane had to be “aired to remove residual pepper spray” before the travelers could re-board the flight.

2nd Place: Supersaver Airfare

A shadowy figure at the center of a bizarre incident at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) has created something of an international mystery this week. The intrigue began when the pilot of an Air China flight reported spotting the man emerging from bushes near the runway and attempting to cling to the landing gear of the aircraft as it taxied for departure.

The unidentified trespasser was not carrying any identification when he was arrested. The only clues investigators had to go on were a notebook with Russian writing inside and a bible found among his possessions.

Attempts to identify the man have also been hampered by the fact that the suspect hasn’t exactly been helpful in any regard. The would-be hitchhiker refused to speak – at all – following his arrest. The stranger reportedly remained silent when authorities brought in a Russian translator in an attempt to communicate.

To make matters even stranger, immigration officials say there is no record of the individual involved ever entering Taiwan. This development has led investigators to believe that their mystery man was likely smuggled in illegally.

Authorities initially said that the detained foreigner is from Belarus, but prosecutors told a judge this week that they had not yet determined the suspect’s nationality. As of the last report, the outlaw traveler still isn’t talking.

1st Place: Not OK in Oklahoma

An American Airlines flight from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) was forced to divert to Tulsa International Airport (TUL) for the most disturbing of reasons on Tuesday. According to arrest reports, an intoxicated passenger on the flight was removed from the plane after groping at least one fellow air traveler “multiple times without her consent.”

Eyewitnesses told Tulsa FOX-affiliate KOKI, that little more than halfway through the scheduled 5-hour-long flight, two passengers began to shout for help from cabin crew members. The mother and daughter traveling together then reported a seatmate had repeatedly touched them both inappropriately as they slept. After learning of the alleged sexual assault, the captain made the decision to declare an emergency and land in Oklahoma as soon as possible.

American Airlines officials confirmed that the flight made the unscheduled stop to remove a “disruptive” passenger from the aircraft. Authorities in Tulsa say that the unidentified passenger is facing charges related to public intoxication.

In-flight sexual assaults have become such a prolific problem in recent years that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has established a National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force. The task force, which includes representatives from the airline industry, the Department of Justice, the FBI and victim advocates is charged with reviewing, evaluating and recommending changes to the “current practices, protocols, and requirements of U.S. airlines in responding to and reporting allegations by passengers of sexual misconduct on board commercial aircraft.”

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FlyingScientist November 9, 2019

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