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.
Over the years, there have been a wide variety of absurd excuses from passengers who have made fake bomb threats against commercial flights. Once, a passenger called in a threat because she was running late for her flight. Another time, a lovesick boyfriend told authorities that there was a bomb on a plane just so his girlfriend couldn’t leave town. More than a few times, frustration with an airline has led a disgruntled flyer to make up a story about explosives on a flight in an ill-advised attempt at revenge and more often still, the hoax ends up being just a really bad attempt at a joke.
It isn’t clear why someone made a fake bomb threat against a Ryanair flight from Kaunas International Airport (KUN) to London Luton Airport (LTN) this week, but the frightening results of the bomb hoax quickly became apparent. People on the ground reported hearing tell-tale sonic booms as RAF Typhoon fighter jets scrambled to escort the aircraft to London Stansted Airport (STN) where police and emergency workers quickly surrounded the plane.
“I only got worried when we were landing and told that we hadn’t landed in Luton, but at Stansted,” 69-year-old passenger Ligita Karnilajeva told The Telegraph. “I was worried because I could see lots of police and armed forces from the window of the plane.
After several hours on the ground, a search of the plane revealed no evidence of explosives. Passengers were then reportedly allowed to re-board the plane for a very short flight from STN to LTN. Although the hoax caused an unexpected delay and some frayed nerves, passengers might owe the anonymous prankster a thank-you for at least one bright spot – Ryanair offered each delayed passenger a meal voucher worth the tidy sum of $4.50.
It is physically impossible to open the exit door of a commercial jet plane while the aircraft is in flight. Repeat, it is physically impossible to open the door of a commercial jet plane while the aircraft is in flight. Of course this public service announcement isn’t likely to reach the sort of passengers who could most benefit most from the information.
Case-in-point, this week a passenger on a United Airlines flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) made a futile attempt to exit the plane over the Atlantic Ocean – not once, not twice, but three times. Granted, the passenger in question, one Alex Croft, was described as “slow to comprehend the information” and appeared “medicated” when a flight attendant listed the menu options for him earlier in the journey.
According to an FBI affidavit, the skittish flyer ordered a glass of wine, but was not permitted any alcoholic beverages due to his odd behavior earlier in flight. Later, however, crew members found the man in the galley area holding a bottle of wine. Flight attendants say that they were “not sure how he obtained it.”
If this wasn’t enough of a red flag, the confused escape artist reportedly telegraphed his intentions moments before trying to exit the plane in midair. “I need to get off this plane,” Croft is said to have announced before trying in vain to open the aft exit door.
According to the court filing, crew members and a fellow passenger twice foiled Croft’s escape attempts and returned him to his seat with a stern warning. His third attempt to leave early occurred nearly 45 minutes before the flight reached its destination. At this point, the helpful passenger (who twice previously assisted in subduing the troublesome flyer) identified himself as a federal air marshall and kept the burdensome traveler restrained for the remainder of the trip.
National Hockey League free agent and former Dallas Stars starting forward Jiri Hudler seems to have done his part to maintain professional hockey players’ bad boy image during a Delta Air Lines flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG). The star athlete is accused of demanding cocaine from a flight attendant and urinating on a beverage cart during the transatlantic journey.
According to a report in a Czech newspaper, when Hudler requested “coke,” the flight attendant sensibly assumed the pro athlete was ordering a soft drink. The hockey player allegedly made it painfully clear that he was most certainly not interested in a carbonated beverage, but something a bit more illicit.
When the flight attendant quite correctly declined to attempt to obtain cocaine for the unruly passenger, he reportedly flew into a rage. According to one report, Hudler told the crew member who declined to help him procure drugs during the flight that he would “have his friends kill her upon arrival in Prague.” The athlete is also alleged to have used cocaine in the plane’s restroom at several points earlier in the flight.
The exchange with the cabin crew member is said to have kicked off a series of increasingly boorish antics from the unsigned free agent.The misbehavior reportedly culminated with the out-of-control sports star peeing on a beverage cart rather than bothering to visit the the lavatory for a purpose not involving cocaine.
Eyewitnesses reported that the 33-year-old appeared to be under the influence during the flight. Hudler has denied the allegations. He later described the alleged misadventure as “such a small incident.”