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Worst Passenger of the Week: The Hunter, the Ghost and the Monster

Worst Passenger of the Week: The Hunter, the Ghost and the Monster
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.

3rd Place: The Hunter

No matter how well-traveled the passenger, there are certain times when airport security checkpoints can be more than a little intimidating. Even for those who dutifully remove their shoes and belts and hold their laptop in their teeth while stowing pocket change in carry-on bags before ever approaching the belt – all while a man in a blue shirt rudely shouts unhelpful instructions – the horror of forgetting to take off one’s wristwatch before the scanner can be overwhelming. This particular Worst Passenger of the Week candidate does not share any such frailty.

“Please remove everything from your pockets when entering the @TSA checkpoint,” TSA Public Affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein explained in a Twitter post on Thursday. “So yesterday a guy flying out of @EWRairport pulled out his knuckle knife and put it in the bin. Good try, but it’s still not permitted through the checkpoint.”

The tweet was accompanied by a photograph of the offending weapon (complete with an obligatory pack of smokes in the frame). From the looks of the combat knife in question, the passenger would be in big-time legal trouble if he had been caught with the blade in any of the jurisdictions surrounding NYC – let alone a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operated airport.

2nd Place: The Ghost

Serial stowaway Marilyn Hartman must have nerves of steel.

The 67-year-old who has made a habit of sneaking aboard commercial flights, returned this week to the scene of her most crime on Friday. Just months after being arrested after sneaking onto a flight from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR), Hartman was again arrested after attempting to bypass an ORD security checkpoint.

There might not be any place on the planet that Hartman is more likely to be recognized than at this specific Chicago airport – there are likely still airport workers and TSA officers being made fun of in the break room on a daily basis for allowing her to pull off the recent transatlantic stunt.

Hartman reportedly offered her version of a Jedi mind trick rather than identification or a ticket to fly when challenged by TSA screeners prior to her latest arrest. According to police, when she was asked for her boarding pass, Hartman simply replied that she “didn’t need it” and walked towards the restricted area of the terminal.

The famous air travel scofflaw has previously managed to slip past security checkpoints without a ticket at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago Midway Airport (MDW), San Jose International Airport (SJC), Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). By her own admission, Hartman has flown on at least eight commercial flights (including to Hawaii and across the Atlantic) without ever having purchased a ticket.

Hartman’s life might not be quite as glamorous as it sounds. In addition to repeated stints in psychiatric custody, the senior citizen globe trotter is, according to her attorneys, currently homeless. “I hope you receive whatever help you may need,” the presiding judge told Hartman on Sunday before ordering her returned to jail.

1st Place: The Monster

It takes amazing audacity and a particular sort of fiendishness to sexually assault a fellow passenger in view of hundreds of potential witnesses on a commercial flight. An alleged molester on an Air Asia flight from Guwahati Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (GAU) to Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) not only repeatedly and inappropriately touched a 20-year-old seatmate as she slept, but he was traveling with his wife and children at the time.

“I was busy reading…this man was seated just behind me with his family…he put his hand on my seat,” the victim said of the initial interaction with her alleged abuser in a police complaint.

According to police, the suspected abuser, identified as Raj Kumar Jain, was arrested when the plane landed. At least one other eyewitness is said to have stepped forward to corroborate the victim’s version of events. The woman told officers that the man who was seated behind her with his family touched her inappropriately between four and five times. At first, she says she believed the contact was inadvertent, but after it was repeated, she began to suspect intentional behavior and alerted crew members.

“Timely intervention by fellow passengers and our crew alerting the ground security team resulted in detaining the passenger and filing a case with the airport police assisted by officials from AirAsia India,” a police spokesperson later told reporters. Raj Kumar Jain, who is described as a shop-owner, was charged with “molestation” based on witness statements. According to media reports, he is married and has two children.

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