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Worst Passenger of the Week: This “Hidden City” Scheme Went Horribly Awry

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.

Third Place – This Week on When Canadians Attack! 2

Canada’s reputation for politeness has taken a serious hit in recent days. This week, a 68-year-old passenger on a Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Vancouver International Airport (YVR)-bound WestJet flight was arrested for assaulting a flight attendant after the captain had to turn back to YYZ because of mechanical issues.

The enraged passenger is accused of turning violent when he learned that the plane was no longer on the way to its destination. The out-of-control flyer’s rampage allegedly caused damage to the aircraft’s lavatory before he focused his aggression on a flight attendant who was assaulted in the ensuing scuffle.

According to police, Vancouver resident Randy Paholko is now facing charges that include simple assault, endangering an aircraft and two counts of criminal mischief.

The incident marked the second time in the span of just two days that an air traveler on a major Canadian carrier was taken into custody after being accused of violently taking frustrations out on a cabin crew member. A few hours earlier, on Thursday, an Air Canada flight from YYZ to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) was also forced to turn back for the airport when a 57-year-old passenger reportedly assaulted a flight attendant moments after takeoff.

In this particular case of transatlantic air-rage, the accused assailant, Hamilton resident John Svab, is now reportedly facing charges of aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and endangering an aircraft. An injured crew member was treated by EMTs at the scene.

The Runner-up – Where Does the Welterweight Champion of the World Sit on a Plane?

Former Welterweight Boxing World Champion Kell Brook is, no doubt, an imposing presence in person. However, the 31-year-old athlete didn’t seem to have intimidated the EasyJet crew on a recent flight from Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LPL) to Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN).

According to eyewitnesses on the plane, the boxer and his companion created an amazing amount of commotion during the very short flight. The pair was questioned by police on the ground after reportedly “causing drunken havoc’ in the air. The two men’s antisocial behavior is said to have included swearing and shouting at fellow passengers as well as blatantly smoking in the plane’s lavatory.

“Kell and his mate were drunk when they got on the plane and carried on drinking with booze they’d bought in the airport,” one passenger on the flight told reporters later. “They were loud and Kell’s mate was throwing things around. Everyone was getting pretty annoyed.”

EasyJet officials confirmed that police were contacted “due to two passengers behaving disruptively.” Police in Barcelona say that the two men were questioned about the mid-air antics, but that no arrests were made.

In Kell’s defense, the boorish behavior allegedly occurred just weeks after he lost his championship belt in a humiliating bout with the American fighter Errol Spence Jr. His agitated state and need to act out was at least somewhat understandable following his very public loss. After all, nearly any frequent traveler will tell you that once missing, lost personal items like belts are notoriously difficult to recover.

The Winner – “He Wanted to De-board and Threatened He Was Carrying a Bomb”

When a passenger on an Air India flight from Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) to Jaipur International Airport (JAI) learned that his flight had a scheduled layover at Jodhpur Airport (JDH), he decided that since the small airport was actually closer to his final destination, he would just end his trip at the earlier stop. Citing security issues, however, the Air India crew refused to allow him to disembark before reaching the final destination listed on his boarding pass.

This is when things turned ugly.

The passenger, described as a “naval officer,” insisted that he be allowed to get off the plane, but crew members reportedly attempted to physically block the determined passenger from exiting the aircraft. Members of the Air India crew say that the irate passenger then claimed to have a bomb in a desperate attempt to convince flight attendants to allow him to leave the plane at the earlier destination.

“The officer had a tiff with the airline staff when the flight touched down at Jodhpur,” a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) spokesperson told reporters. “He told them he wanted to de-board and threatened he was carrying a bomb when the crew stopped him from disembarking. The passenger has been handed over to local police.”

So-called “hidden city” fares, in which passengers intentionally book tickets with plans to exit at a layover destination, have created a cottage industry catering to bargain-hunting passengers. The cost-saving scheme has also become the bane of airlines around the globe. Some carriers have gone as far as to call the controversial practice outright fraud.

In this case, it doesn’t seem as if the passenger was hoping to save a few rupees by booking a creative itinerary. By all accounts, the flyer seems to have been pleasantly surprised to discover that his flight would be making a stop at a more convenient airport. Likewise, Air India’s concerns about the naval officer’s early exit are on the face of it about actual security issues.

While the incident certainly escalated to a full-blown security threat, after hours of inspecting the aircraft and the passengers personal belongings, no evidence of any explosives was ever discovered. For his part, the arrested passenger denies ever making any sort of bomb threat at all.

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