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.
Ryanair really, really, really wants airports around the world to start counting passengers’ drinks. An abusive and allegedly intoxicated mother traveling with her small child this week on a flight from Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI) to East Midlands Airport (EMA) gave the budget carrier the perfect opening in an ongoing campaign to pressure regulators into making airports wholly responsible for the behavior of troublemaking air travelers.
“A customer on this flight from Palma to East Midlands became disruptive before take-off and was warned about their behavior by our cabin crew,” Ryanair Communications Director Robin Kiely told reporters, later adding, “This is exactly why we are calling for significant changes to prohibit the sale of alcohol at airports, such as a two-drink limit per passenger and no alcohol sales before 10am. It’s incumbent on the airports to introduce these preventative measures to curb excessive drinking and the problems it creates, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before their flights.”
To be fair, a cascade effect triggered by an air traffic controller strike in France reportedly caused a nearly 3-hour tarmac delay before takeoff – an experience that might have tested the patience of Job. Still, it seems Ryanair likely had a valid point about alcohol playing a factor in the disruption as well.
A fellow passenger, who according to local media reports, live-tweeted her version of the meltdown, indicated that wine consumed on the plane (along with just a soupçon of questionable parenting choices) may have been the real source of trouble in this particular situation. No matter if the airport deserves the blame or not, it sounds as if the heavy-drinking flyer certainly put on quite an unfortunate show.
“Woman in front of me kicking off! Has a 4yo and demanding pillow and blanket,” the eyewitness wrote in a long series of tweets documenting the gloomy ordeal. “Now she’s been asked by cabin crew to hand over a bottle of wine she is drinking. She’s just necked the remaining half bottle […] Now she has asked to get off the plane. She’s getting off the plane saying that there’s something wrong and it’s terrorism […] Woman’s child is now terrified and asking her mum to stop and saying she’s making her sad.”
The family that was reportedly left stranded at Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) this week following a connecting flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) says the airline blamed the inflight behavior of a three-year-old child and a 16-month-old baby for the unusual decision not to allow them to continue on to their final destination, but Erin Gatling, who describes her clan as “very frequent world travelers,” says her kids behaved like perfect angels on the flight in question. The proud mother took to social media to express her dissatisfaction with her family’s Southwest Airlines travel experience.
“Will you please tell me why you kicked my family off a plane during our layover and canceled our next flight for ‘your kids were being a disturbance’?” Erin Gatling wrote in a Facebook post shortly after the unpleasant experience. “They did not cry or scream at all during the flight.”
According to Gatling, cabin crew members falsely accused her small children of “running up and down the aisle and jumping on tray tables.” To make matters worse, she says her husband was then arrested in the terminal when police were summoned after he was falsely accused of assaulting an airline employee.
Not surprisingly, the airline has a slightly different account of events.
“In addition to providing legendary customer service to each customer onboard, our flight attendants are responsible for enforcing regulations as well as our policies to ensure the safety of those traveling with us,” Southwest Airlines officials told Fox News. “Our reports indicate customers traveling onboard flight 102 were not following inflight instructions. A Southwest supervisor met the customers upon arrival at their connecting city, Chicago, to discuss the events that occurred onboard. The customers were unwilling to be approached by our employees in the airport and when the situation escalated, local authorities became involved.”
All good moms are experts at multi-tasking, but a resourceful mother on an Air China flight at Dazhou Heshi Airport (DAX) managed to physically defend her space in the overhead storage bin from an interloper while holding a baby in her arms at the same time. Although standing up to a bully might have been a questionable call, given the very real possibility that the small child strapped to mom in a Baby Bjorn might get caught in the crossfire, the resulting brawl earned a well-deserved 15 minutes of fame for everyone involved.
Video footage shows that the pre-flight combat over carry-on space was more than just harmless posturing. Fellow passengers can be heard pleading with two warring passengers to stop fighting for the sake of the child before the violent exchange is quickly broken up by flight attendants after just a few moments.
The incident reportedly came to a head when a passenger arrived to find a nearby overhead bin full of baby supplies. When the new arrival decided to rearrange the personal items in the storage area, things turned serious in a hurry. Shouts of “She tossed our bags!” and “Call the police!” became battle cries as the dramatic altercation kicked off with little warning.
It appears that both the combatants (as well the innocent child) were unharmed during the melee. In fact, both of the women involved in the territorial skirmish over the unsettled overhead bin boundaries were permitted to remain on the flight which took off a short time later as scheduled.