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Worst Passenger of the Week

Worst Passenger of the Week: The Abrupt Escalation of a Customer Service Complaint

Worst Passenger of the Week: The Abrupt Escalation of a Customer Service Complaint
Jeff Edwards

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: METH-HEAD HORTON

A small amount of contraband among a passenger’s carry-on items resulted in big trouble for a traveler at Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR). The excitement at the upstate New York airport occurred after TSA screeners alerted law enforcement that the flyer was in possession of a “small amount of white substance.” Police say that the substance turned out to be methamphetamine.

Michael J. Horton was arrested on charges related to suspicion of drug possession. The Pennsylvania resident was later released with a summons to appear and presumably allowed to continue on his journey to Colorado.

There are a lot of places where a small amount of white powder might go unnoticed; unfortunately for the suspect, in this case, an airport security checkpoint is not among those places. It is recommended that passengers finish any crystal meth on their persons before heading to the gate.

3RD PLACE: REP. PONCHO “COCAINE” NEVÁREZ

When one drops an envelope filled with white powder at a busy airport, such as Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), authorities are bound to take notice. When said envelope happens to have the owner’s personal letterhead printed on the outside, the culprit isn’t going to be hard to track down. When the white powder in question turns out to be a felony quantity of cocaine and the letterhead on the envelope reads, “Office of the State of Texas House of Representatives Member Poncho Nevárez,” then a full-blown scandalis likely about to erupt.

This week, Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez admitted his arrest on drug possession charges was behind his decision not to seek reelection to the Texas Statehouse. The lawmaker is instead now facing third-degree felony drug possession charges. If convicted, Nevárez could face up to ten years behind bars.

“It is why I chose not seek re-election,” the disgraced lawmaker told the Dallas Morning News on Thursday. “I had imperiled my health. I do not have anyone to blame but myself. I accept this because it is true and it will help me get better. In a weird way I am grateful. Grief and addiction were consuming me, but oddly enough, I feel better now than I have in a long time, and I mean that.”

Despite airport security footage showing Nevárez appearing to drop the envelope bearing his letterhead and a substantial amount of cocaine, authorities obtained a search warrant for his DNA. Investigators told a judge the sample would be used to match trace DNA found on the flap of the envelope.

It appears the representative arrived at the airport on a private flight and was therefore at little risk of having his contraband discovered by TSA screeners. Had he not allegedly dropped the envelope with his name, job title and place of employment (and lots of cocaine) at the highly surveilled airport, then he might not have ever been forced to decide to “get better.”

2ND PLACE: THE WEEDY WILKINS

A mother/daughter duo were arrested after allegedly arriving at Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) with more than 60 pounds of marijuana in their checked bags. Police say 41-year-old Bridget Deque Wilkins and her 22-year-old daughter arrived on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with the illegal cargo.

According to court filings, a detective assigned to the airport noticed a strong marijuana odor coming from one of the bags and brought in a drug-sniffing dog to confirm his suspicions. A K-9 officer named Ballentine agreed with the detective assessment, alerting to bags tagged in the names of both the mother and daughter.

The alleged mother-and-daughter-drug-mule-team might have been better off cutting their losses and leaving the airport empty-handed, but the detective soon caught up with the pair at the Southwest Airlines baggage office where they were making a complaint about the delayed bags. After receiving permission to search the luggage, investigators discovered 27 bundles of weed which police say had been carefully “double-bagged and vacuum-sealed, then placed in larger bags, wrapped in clothing and vacuum-sealed again.”

1ST PLACE: ANGRY DEAN PADAMADA

A passenger arriving at Hilo International Airport (ITO) this week was understandably upset to discover that his checked bags had not arrived with him. What happened next, however, made a missing suitcase the least of Dean Padamada’s problems. Police say that not only did the 30-year-old leave the airport without his bags, he also departed in handcuffs and is now facing charges of “terroristic threatening, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and two counts of assault on a police officer” after airport workers called Hawaii Island Police over his extra-emphatic customer service complaints.

“According to reports, Padamada began to throw pamphlets and create a disturbance over the luggage issue,” police said in a statement. “When asked to settle down by Airport Staff, Padamada became verbally threatening to airport employees. When police arrived Padamada continued to behave violently and police arrested him. During the arrest an officer was knocked to the ground and sustained an injury to the knee. Another officer injured their hand before police deployed a taser and were able to arrest Padamada.”

The irate air traveler was taken into custody and bail was set pending an initial appearance before a judge. There is no word yet on whether or not Padamada was eventually reunited with his lost items.

 

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