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Worst Passenger of the Week

Worst Passenger of the Week: Wheels Down at Stansted in Record Time

Worst Passenger of the Week: Wheels Down at Stansted in Record Time
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 award, only one lucky flyer can take home the glory. Here are this week’s winners.

Honorable Mention – Punch and Judy Show

This week, a couple was ordered to pay nearly $4,000 to Jet2 for causing a London Stansted Airport (STN) to Gran Canaria Airport (LPA)-bound flight to divert to Faro International Airport (FAO). After a reportedly minor dispute slowly escalated to the point where Pauline Gordon and Ronald St Ville allegedly began trading punches, the captain decided to make the unscheduled stop in Portugal.

According to the court, the 65-year-old and her 55-year-old travel companion had to be physically separated by crew members with an assist from an off-duty police officer who happened to be on the plane. Earlier this year, the feuding sweethearts were acquitted on charges of “endangering an aircraft” as a result of the July 2017 incident.

Jet2, however, wasn’t ready to let bygones be bygones and instead sued the couple in civil court. Airline officials were clearly pleased with the ruling this week that means the disruptive flyers will be paying a steep price for their in-flight shenanigans after all.

“This is the latest of many successful court rulings against disruptive passenger behavior, showing once again that there are serious consequences if you act in a disruptive fashion onboard an aircraft,” an airline spokesperson told reporters in a statement. “As well as being banned from flying with us for life, Miss Gordon must now repay us for losses incurred, which came about as a direct result of her actions.”

Third Place – Tin Foil Hat Brigade

People who think unknown powers-that-be are invading their privacy will sometimes resort to using tin foil to block imagined spying technology employed by the shadowy government agents. Tin foil, however, is apparently not an effective countermeasure for passengers attempting to block shadowy TSA screeners from invading the sanctity of their carry-on bags.

There are undoubtedly many, many ways to outfox the TSA, but these worst passengers will need to try a little harder next time. As the Homeland Security agency points out in its weekly blog, wrapping prohibited weapons in aluminum foil or even partially placing a gun in an RFD-shielding bag won’t stop screeners from taking a closer look.

TSA officers at Manchester–Boston Regional Airport (MHT) discovered a pellet gun tucked into a static shielding bag in a passenger’s carry-on luggage. The shielding bag (normally used for storing an E-ZPass tag) was no match for TSA technology and was easily spotted by a screener.

Meanwhile, TSA screeners at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) found a knife and a pair of prohibited scissors hidden in a flyer’s carry-on. In addition to being wrapped, the prohibited items were hidden in the lining of a suitcase for good measure (but were still not hidden well enough to fool the x-ray machine). Perhaps, if the sneaky air traveler hadn’t tightly wrapped the items in the shape of a knife and a pair of scissors, then the smuggling attempt may have had a better chance of success.

The Runner-up – How to Fix a Sticky Keyhole

An actor known for his roles in “Soul Plane” and “Hannah Montana” is pointing the finger at American Airlines and affiliate SkyWest. Stephen Keys is suing the airline after he says his finger became stuck in a seat in the first class cabin of an American Airlines flight operated by SkyWest, causing a “humiliating public spectacle.”

In court documents, the performer claims that his finger became stuck after he attempted to raise his armrests in order to access his seatbelt. Instead of finding the belt, his hand ended up trapped in a small hole under the armrest.

“The spring mechanism embedded inside of this hole in the armrest applied intense pressure to plaintiff’s finger, immediately inflicting injury, swelling and pain,” the lawsuit claims. “By this time, dozens of passengers became aware of Mr. Keys’ perilous condition, causing his dire situation to become a humiliating public spectacle. By the end of it all, he remained entrapped in this nightmarish condition, suffering for nearly an hour.”

According to the actor, the incident left him unable to drive and he was not able to play with his children after being injured. The celebrity’s lawyers also say Keys has suffered “severe emotional distress and weeks of pain.”

Flyertalk would like to reiterate that the extraordinarily litigious film star did absolutely nothing wrong in this situation and it is a minor miracle that more passengers don’t get trapped in their armrests. It is also worth noting that Mr. Keys is a rare talent, loved by the camera and adored by countless fans.

The Winner – Well That Escalated Quickly

There is a brief moment of time between leaving the gate and reaching cruising altitude, when the seatbelt sign remains on, electronic devices are prohibited and beverage service is unavailable. Passengers on a Ryanair flight from London Stansted Airport (STN) to Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS) managed to use this time to cause a disruption serious enough that the captain returned to the gate after only 15 minutes in the air.

“This flight from London to Lisbon returned to Stansted shortly after take-off after a number of passengers became disruptive in-flight,” a Ryanair spokesperson told BBC News. “The aircraft landed normally and was met by police upon arrival. Customers disembarked and boarded a replacement aircraft which continued to Lisbon shortly afterwards.”

According to eyewitnesses, the dispute centered around a mobile phone which was damaged by a fellow passenger at some point between departure and reaching 30,000 feet. Although at least two passengers were removed from the plane after it landed, police say only one flyer was taken into custody.

“I think we were 15 minutes into our flight when the captain warned us we would be returning to the airport,” one unnamed witness on the flight told the Daily Mail. “When we landed two military men came in and removed one of the passengers. A woman at the back of the plane, where I’m seated, got really angry because apparently she knew that man and that it was unfair for them to remove him but not the other man also involved in the fight. I didn’t see the fight myself but it seems to have started because one of them broke the other’s phone.”

View Comments (2)


  1. JoePendleton

    December 17, 2018 at 6:08 am

    Thoughts and prayers for Mr. Stephen Keys and his family during this difficult time.

  2. Mtothe M

    December 19, 2018 at 6:42 am

    LOL – Who is Stephen Keys?

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