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Worst Passenger of the Week: The Not-So-Great Escape

Worst Passenger of the Week: The Not-So-Great Escape
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: Captain Joe Isuzu

AirAsia officials smelled a rat when an off-duty Lufthansa pilot attempted to use reciprocal flight privileges on a flight departing from New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). They were right to be suspicious – it turns out the uniformed passenger wasn’t an airline captain at all, but a con man who has used a fake airline ID and a look-alike pilot uniform to scam his way onto free flights in the past.

This time, however, AirAsia agents called Lufthansa directly. The German carrier dispatched its own representatives to investigate and quickly determined that the “captain” was in no way affiliated with the airline.

“Lufthansa immediately sent its team to contact this person at Delhi Airport,” an AirAsia spokesperson told reporters. “The individual in question was impersonating as an employee of Lufthansa airlines. He was handed over to the airport police and an investigation has been ordered.”

The pretend pilot later admitted to investigators that he had purchased the fake airline identification during a trip to Bangkok. The Indian national said he had been successful in boarding flights a number of times with the fake credentials in the past, posing both as an airline consultant and as a pilot.

3rd Place: Failure to Launch

Police say that an elderly couple should have left their 42-year-old son at home when they headed to the airport for a planned tropical getaway. The family vacation to Spain was cut short before it ever started when gate agents at East Midlands Airport (EMA) refused to let the youngster board the 6:20am flight because he was allegedly intoxicated.

David Awcoate, who still lives at home with his rather indulgent mom and dad, wasn’t ready to stop at simply disrupting the family’s scheduled resort holiday. According to prosecutors, things deteriorated quickly after Awcoate learned he wouldn’t be going to the beach.

“He was told he was too intoxicated to be allowed onto the flight,” Prosecutor Peter Bettany told a magistrate this week. “It was decided his mother was going to go home with him in a taxi. Awcoate started yelling and said the officers had no right to tell him to leave. He told them to ‘f off.’ The officers tried to arrest him for being drunk and disorderly. He was pulling away but was led away. He was still swearing. It was early but even at that time of the day at the airport there were members of the public who should not have to hear such words. His behavior carried on on the way to the police station with him using yet more swear words.”

Awcoate entered a guilty plea to charges of being drunk and disorderly. He said he was “embarrassed” by his actions.

“I do have alcohol problems as well as anxiety and depression,” Awcoate told the judge. “My alcohol problems have got a lot worse since the death of my nan and granddad. I lived with them and looked after them for nine years. They were mentally ill.”

2nd Place: Throwing Shade

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when strangers would prefer to quietly suffer the minor offenses from fellow passengers rather than cause a scene at 40,000 feet, but it is a much different world now. Dozen of flights in the past few years have been forced to make unscheduled landings due to altercations between flyers over reclining seats. There are hundreds of screeds online explaining how to retaliate against fellow travelers who abuse the rights to the shared armrest (and there are even some people who earn a living just by reporting on the bad behavior of air travelers).

News comes this week that passenger discord has reached a whole new level of pettiness. A viral video showing an epic battle between flyers over an airplane cabin window shade has other passengers recalling their own war stories of times when they did not agree with a seat mate’s decision about whether the window shade should be open or closed. The video ends without an ultimate winner being declared in the skirmish, but it is abundantly clear that if this is the direction that air travel is headed, then we are all losers.

Of course, longing for simpler times when everyone followed the unwritten rules of the cabin and everyone got along (for the most part) would probably mean going back to the days when passengers weren’t crammed together like so many teenagers at a rave. There was also a time in the not-so-distant past when a shade-inspired feud would have been rendered moot – when airlines arranged seats in a way in which each row had a single window and would not have dreamed of splitting windows (or emergency exits) between rows – or at least that’s how we would like to remember it.

1st Place: An Early Departure

A passenger on a flight arriving at Oklahoma City Will Rogers World Airport (OKC) saw the writing on the wall, but it was already too late and his attempt to evade his fate only made things worse – much worse. When a 16-year-old flyer learned that police were waiting to arrest him when his United Airlines Express flight from Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) arrived, he took swift and decisive action.

Airport security footage shows the teenage fugitive, wanted on a felony arrest warrant, leaping from the plane rather than continuing onto the jetway. The brief foot pursuit that followed ended in dramatic fashion when the runaway passenger ran out of tarmac and made the ill-advised decision to take another risky leap. This time, the adolescent fugitive jumped 22 feet off of an airport building in a last-ditch attempt to evade the police, airport workers and airline employees who were pursuing him by this point.

Unfortunately for this especially rushed air traveler, the resulting fall caused the adolescent-on-the-run to break his ankle. This, of course, made catching up with and taking the fugitive into custody much, much easier for law enforcement.

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1 Comment

  1. mhrb

    November 27, 2019 at 7:23 am

    Still think the craziest things about the childish window shade thing are that a) it was not his window b) his window was up c) he videoed himself.

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