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Worst Passenger of the Week: The Bank Robber Who Tried to Buy a Ticket to “Anywhere”   

Worst Passenger of the Week: The Bank Robber Who Tried to Buy a Ticket to “Anywhere”   
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 – Bye-Bye, Have a Safe Trip!

While not technically an airline passenger, a rotten Uber driver did more to ruin a flight this week than a plane full of cranky babies with megaphones ever could. Police say after dropping a couple off at the airport, the diver returned to the location where he picked them up and attempted to burgle the home.

Fortunately for the unsuspecting air travelers, a security alarm scared the Uber driver and suspected burglar off, but, not to be deterred, Jackie Gordon Wilson reportedly robbed a nearby house instead. After later reviewing security footage, the passengers (who are said to have rented the property through Airbnb) identified the perpetrator as the very Uber driver who took them to the airport.   

According to police, stolen property linked to the burglary was found in the 38-year-old’s home and, at the time of his arrest, he was clad in the same clothes he was seen wearing in the home security footage. Records show the part-time driver was charged with a slew of criminal offenses, including first-degree burglary, attempted first-degree burglary, and resisting arrest. 

“We removed the driver’s access to the app as soon as we were made aware of the allegations and stand ready to assist police in their investigation,” Uber spokesperson Andrew Hasbun told CNN in a statement.

Third Place – Offensive Fouls and Dangerous Play

A truly amazing number of Worst Passenger of the Week candidates arrive at the airport in matching uniforms (or custom-made tee shirts anyway), but seldom does their misbehavior involve as much well-practiced teamwork as the amateur soccer squad detained by the Spanish Civil Guard following a rowdy EasyJet flight from Bristol Airport (BRS) to Alicante–Elche Airport (ALC). The out-of-control footballers even managed to inspire the Spanish authorities’ normally stoic communications staff to add a few literary flourishes to their traditional boilerplate response to these all-too-frequent sorts of flight disruptions.

“Last Saturday on April 6 at 10:50 pm the pilot of a plane which had come from Bristol requested the presence of Civil Guard officers at the landing bay to deal with public order problems on the aircraft involving a large number of passengers,” a Civil Guard spokesperson told the Mirror. “When the plane arrived officers from the Airport Security Section had to remove the 25 members of an amateur British football team, who during the flight had displayed an aggressive attitude, causing public order problems and bothering other passengers and ignoring requests by the flight crew to calm down. Most of them also clearly appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The 25 British nationals were removed from the plane to cheers and applause from the rest of the passengers and were taken to Civil Guard offices at the airport so they could be identified.”

Police said that none of the disruptive passengers will face charges. The football hooligans will, however, be named and shamed in an official report due to be submitted to the Spanish Aviation Safety and Security Agency (AESA). 

The Runner-up – Direct Service to Flavor Country

Never play a game of chicken with the person at the controls of a commercial jetliner. A defiant Alaska passenger on a Thursday morning red-eye flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) apparently didn’t believe crew members when they informed him that he wouldn’t be allowed to smoke onboard. When the nicotine-starved cross-country air traveler challenged that decision by lighting his second cigarette of the flight in the cabin of the aircraft, the captain decided to make an unscheduled stop at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to remove the stubborn smoker from the Airbus A320. 

“Due to a disruptive passenger onboard and out of an abundance of caution, the flight was diverted to Chicago and landed at 4:22 a.m. local time,” an Alaska Airlines spokesperson told reporters in a statement. According to the airline, police were asked to meet the flight when it landed, because the passenger had become “belligerent” and was said to have frantically paced the aisle of the aircraft after being denied his cigarette break. 

Although the disruptive flyer was escorted from the plane without incident, the flight was delayed for about an hour before taking on additional fuel and continuing to its final destination. Police say that the unidentified tobacco enthusiast was not charged with a crime, but that the matter was referred to federal authorities.   

The Winner – Is There Anything Departing Sooner?

Police in Florida said they nabbed a suspected bank robber at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) because alert ticket agents reported a man who urgently attempted to purchase a ticket “to anywhere.” While the trope of buying a ticket on the very next flight out, no matter where it’s going, is a staple in romantic comedy films, in the real world, that sort behavior raises all kinds of red flags (especially when the passenger attempts to pay with a wad of cash).

Authorities say Dennis Robinson tried to book his suspicious itinerary less than two hours after robbing a Chase Bank branch in town. Rather than selling the agitated fugitive a ticket, the airline employee instead alerted airport police.

According to eyewitnesses, the accused bank robber arrived at the counter “sweating and trying to catch his breath.” He is said to have dropped several $100 bills while urging the ticket agent to hurry up with the transaction.

According to local media reports, the accused bumbling bank robber had moments earlier handed an employee at the local bank his real ID shortly before giving a teller a note that simply read “robbery.” The suspect escaped the bank with $5,000 – money which he was apparently prepared to throw away on walk-up airfare to wherever. Robinson is now charged with strong-arm robbery and is being held on $25,000 bond (an amount for which he appears to be roughly $20,000 short). 

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (4)

4 Comments

  1. OUTraveling

    April 12, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    “Never play a game of chicken with the person at the controls of a commercial jetliner. ”
    Put the man on the no fly list and prohibit him from Amtrak as it is a federally supported service and under the same protections. Make him take the bus home.

    “Police in Florida said they nabbed a suspected bank robber at Jacksonville International Airport”
    This man got the order wrong. You are supposed to make the reservation before! Better yet, the correct order is going to the police station and advising the nice person behind the desk of your plans.

  2. fotographer

    April 13, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Why no charges for the smoking passenger
    It cost money for the stop in ORD

  3. Dalo

    April 13, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Obviously didn’t read “Bank Robbing For Dummies.”

  4. Sydneyberlin

    April 16, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    “The amateur soccer squad detained by the Spanish Civil Guard following a rowdy EasyJet flight from Bristol Airport”. How did I know straight away that a sizable amount of alcoholic beverages would have been involved in this…

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