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.
Police say Mary Dostal only spent about a minute-and-a-half at Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) on Wednesday, but she made effective use of her time. Dostal allegedly managed to cause tens-of-thousands-of-dollars in damage to airport property and at least one private plane by ramming her car through two airport perimeter fence gates before taking a wild ride around the tarmac.
Officers say that when they eventually caught up with Dostal, she had a box of wine in the front seat with her and told cops that she thought she was in Ohio. She was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI).
Officials say the confused motorist could still face other charges, including federal prosecution for her joyride around airport property. Fortunately, the car vs airplane fender-bender occurred while the aircraft was parked and unoccupied, but authorities say the mad-airport-romp could have easily ended in tragedy.
“There’s a fuel tank,” the damaged plane’s owner told reporters. “There’s several other aircrafts on the ramp. She could have hit all those airplanes, but she didn’t obviously … It could have been a lot worse than it was and no one was hurt, no one was injured so that’s what matters.”
Yet another airport trespasser made news causing chaos this week – this time it was at Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP). An alleged car thief on the run from the cops reportedly sought sanctuary at the busy international airport – delaying passengers and causing at least one airport employee to have his security credentials revoked in the process.
According to officials, the fugitive suspect convinced an airport worker to allow him to enter the terminal area through a loading dock (the much-too-nice employee was later disciplined). The fleeing man then disappeared into a light rail tunnel at the airport. After suspending train service for nearly an hour, police eventually caught up with Demetrios Louis Carter and took him into custody.
The 28-year-old, who had earlier managed to talk his way into a secure area of an international airport as the police closed in, had one last trick up his sleeve and once again managed to temporarily charm his way to freedom. After his behind-the-scenes tour of MSP, Carter complained that he had been injured in the attempt to elude police. Once he was taken for medical treatment, he managed to escape before eventually being recaptured again.
In addition to reportedly driving a stolen car to the airport, Carter now faces a slew of additional charges as well. He is also accused of fleeing from a police officer, illegally possessing a firearm, possession of dangerous weapons (metal knuckles/switchblade), marijuana possession, trespassing and escaping from custody. He could also face federal charges for his unauthorized (and apparently armed) activities at the airport.
TSA screeners at Boise Airport are commemorating the unfortunate achievement of finding three guns in passengers’ bags over three consecutive days this week. The streak of firearm discoveries brings the tally of guns seized this year at BOI to 22 (still shy of the 29 handguns seized at the airport last year).
According to TSA Federal Security Director for Idaho Andy Coose, on Tuesday, a TSA screener found a .45 caliber Smith & Wesson M&P pistol loaded with six rounds in the carry-on bag of a passenger headed to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). On Wednesday, a .40 caliber Glock 23 firearm loaded with 11 rounds was discovered in the carry-on of a passenger flying to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and on Thursday, screeners spotted a 9 mm LH9-MKII semiautomatic pistol loaded with 13 rounds in a carry-on belonging to a flyer on his way to Denver International Airport (DEN).
“With Thanksgiving behind us, ‘tis the season for lights, tinsel and fruitcake, all of which TSA screens during the month of December,” the Homeland Security agency said in a statement announcing the unprecedented three-day-streak of armed flyers. “However, TSA wants to remind passengers to ‘check their list twice’ and leave firearms out of their carry-on bags when preparing to fly. One gun in carry-on luggage is one too many. With the discovery of three firearms in three days at Boise Airport, it is a stark reminder to follow rules for traveling with a firearm to make sure it is a happy and safe holiday season.”
This summer, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) launched an awareness campaign to encourage flyers in the U.K. to consider the consequences of overindulging before or during a flight. The so-called “One Too Many” campaign was inspired by a near epidemic of intoxicated flyers causing problems on flights to and from destinations in Britain.
“Any incident is one too many. Airlines have a zero-tolerance approach to unruly behavior and cabin crew and passengers have a right to a flight free from disturbance and harassment,” IATA Regional Vice President for Europe Rafael Schvartzman said of the initiative. “We are proud to partner with UKTRF, AOA and Airlines UK on this campaign to remind passengers to fly responsibly. The party should be at the destination, not on the plane.”
It appears, however, there was a passenger on a British Airways flight this week from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) who didn’t get a chance to read the brochures. Cellphone footage captured the allegedly intoxicated flyer being strapped to his seat by crew members after he allegedly became unhinged and repeatedly attempted to punch fellow passengers.
“It was about three hours after we took off – this passenger sitting in front of us was getting more and more agitated,” one eyewitness on the flight told the Sun. “He was drinking a bottle of spirits he’d somehow managed to bring onto the plane from duty free. He was getting really upset. The crew were trying to calm him down but it just kept getting worse. He was jumping up and trying to punch other passengers and this really tough-looking bloke had to step in. He pinned him down by one of his arms in some kind of arm lock and held him there until crew could strap him to a seat.”
Although the passenger who appears to have had “one too many” eventually calmed down, he reportedly stayed tied to his seat for most of the remainder of the nearly 13-hour-flight. Police met the plane when it arrived in Singapore.
“The crew on board reassured customers, moved nearby passengers to alternative seats, and arranged for police to meet the aircraft,” a British Airways spokesperson told the tabloid newspaper. “This sort of behavior will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will always be taken. Our customers and crews should be able to enjoy their flights, and not suffer any form of abuse.”