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Worst Passenger of the Week: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Delay Your Flight for Hours

Woman with Cigarette Exhaling Smoke

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.

Honorable Mention – Economy Class Passengers Can Sometimes Be Cruel

It seems that even the director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to follow federal regulations governing taxpayer-funded travel for government employees. According to the General Service Administration (GAO), this means that in the absence of “a documented disability or special need,” any exemptions for first or business class travel paid for with public funds should be first approved on a case-by-case basis by regulators.

It comes as a bit of shock to learn that D.C. power players are expected to fly in the economy class cabin, and perhaps no one was more surprised to learn this fact than EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The controversial Trump administration official has made a habit of flying first-class during his brief tenure at the helm of the agency. According to the EPA, however, the high-ranking public official has a very good reason for flying in the premium class cabins on the taxpayer’s dime – people are sometimes mean to him when he travels in coach.

“We felt that based on the recommendation from the team leader, the special agent in charge, that it would be better suited to have him in business or first class, away from close proximity from those individuals who were approaching him and being extremely rude, using profanities and potential for altercations and so forth,” EPA spokesperson Henry Barnet explained.

Third Place – Never Ever Touch a Laptop Computer Found Abandoned in the Lavatory

A passenger who left a laptop computer behind in the lavatory of a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver International Airport (DEN) to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) caused big trouble with her questionable choice in web browsing locations. When the forgetful toilet-time computer user left her device in the plane’s restroom, her actions eventually triggered security concerns that forced the plane to make an unscheduled stop at Oklahoma City Will Rogers World Airport (OKC).

When no one on the flight stepped forward to claim the misplaced device that was discovered in an icky hiding place, the captain decided to make an emergency landing “out of an abundance of caution.” After securing passengers at a facility away from the terminal area and searching the plane, federal officials determined that the computer did not pose a threat.

FBI officials were eventually able to track down the errant laptop’s owner. The flight was allowed to continue on to New Orleans after a nearly five-hour delay, but because the forgetful computer owner was reportedly intoxicated, she was required to stay behind in Oklahoma.

The Runners-up – Forming an Unruly Mob is Never the Answer

Allegiant Air gate agents called police to help control irate passengers after a flight due to depart Des Moines International Airport (DSM) was delayed for nearly 14 hours. Police say they arrived at the gate just after midnight and were met by an angry “mob.”

This week, Allegiant Air officials took partial responsibility for the fracas and apologized to the passengers involved. “We do understand that people were frustrated by that, and maybe the communication wasn’t as good as it could have been while we thought it could get resolved quickly,” Allegiant Air Director of Communications Hilarie Grey explained. She blamed the day-long delay on a combination of weather and mechanical delays.

Passengers on the flight say that chalking the ordeal up to poor communication is a gross understatement. According to the stranded and eventually riotous passengers, they were told that the flight would be departing in “approximately 30 minutes” dozens of times throughout the 18-hour delay. Passengers who were ready to abandon their travel plans complain that they were told that no refunds would be offered and that they would not be able to reclaim any checked bags.

It’s easy to sympathize with exhausted passengers who spent the day being given the runaround by an airline, but a riot at the departure gate seems just a bit over-the-top and more importantly not likely to accomplish much. After all, it was an Allegiant Air flight – how much money could a full refund really amount to in this situation?

The Winner – Next Time Remember to Get a Hand Stamp

A smoker with a less-than-solid grasp of airport security procedures caused her fellow air travelers a world of hurt this week at Auckland Airport (AKL). Faced with lengthy weather delays, an unidentified passenger decided to step out for a smoke, but she claims to have been unaware that she needed to be re-screened at a security checkpoint before returning to the secure area of the airport and simply walked past the checkpoint.

“The breach was quickly alerted to Avsec and all airport agencies worked seamlessly to identify and locate the passenger,” an Aviation Security spokesman told reporters. “The passenger was successfully prevented from boarding the aircraft at gate 23. While it is accepted that on this occasion there was no malicious intent, the security breach resulted in disruption to a number of passengers and delays to some flights.”

Although the smoker who slipped past a security checkpoint was tracked down before she could board a flight, the breach caused plenty of other security headaches for officials and fellow flyers alike. The smoking passenger’s flight was reportedly delayed for an additional two hours while each passenger was re-screened at a security checkpoint to ensure that the terminal area was still secure.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
madbrain March 8, 2018

Re: Allegiant air incident, wouldn't refunds be dictated by federal law on such a long delay ? Also, the passengers were told they couldn't reclaim their luggage, so they couldn't make alternate travel plans. They were basically hostages. I would have been pissed off, too.

arcticflier February 17, 2018

"...away from close proximity from those individuals who were approaching him and being extremely rude, using profanities and potential for altercations and so forth,” I had this experience on Frontier.