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Worst Passenger of the Week: Why the Caged Bird Sings

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 – The Ugly American in the Red Hawaiian Shirt

A U.S. citizen’s violent rampage aboard a Narita International Airport (NRT) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)-bound All Nippon Airways flight prior to departure resulted in at least one injured employee, a substantial delay and a reinforced set of unfortunate stereotypes that all Americans traveling abroad will have to live down in the future. Fortunately, another U.S. citizen, who had been diligently filming his countryman run riot, helped an entire nation to save face by putting down his camera and assisting a crew member to attempt to control the flyer-run-amok.

Cameraman Corry Hour told his Twitter followers that he was forced to stop filming the bizarre scene when he was compelled to step into the breach to help keep other passengers and crew members safe from the out-of-control man. According to All Nippon officials, the aggressive and violent flyer was eventually taken into police custody, but not before attacking at least three passengers and several airline employees.

“The gentleman was screaming and he attacked three passengers before a third intervened,” ANA spokesperson Nao Gunji confirmed. “Our flight attendant tried to intervene as well. He had to be physically taken out of the cabin for everybody’s safety. He met three of our ground staff and continued being violent.”

Hour’s brief video shows the alleged instigator appearing to brutally pummel a fellow passenger without provocation. The menacing passenger is easily identifiable, wearing the official uniform of Trader Joe’s managers and American tourists – a bright red Hawaiian shirt.

The Runners-up – It’s a Three-way, Jetway Melee

It is somewhat curious that a threesome of travelers chose the jetway outside of a recently arrived Delta Airlines flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) to physically settle a dispute. Just a few steps further from the plane and the trio of flyers might have been allowed to roll around on the ground and work things out relatively undisturbed. As it turned out, the captain of the flight which had just arrived from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL) felt obligated to step in to break up the fight.

Curiouser still, a video of the incident shows that the pilot appears to strike one of the passengers immediately after pulling two of the battling women apart. After getting a look at the video, Delta quickly relieved the pilot from duty pending an investigation.

And curiouser, after further review, airline officials concluded that the captain was actually the hero of the story. “The pilot has since been returned to work as our investigation found that his actions deescalated an altercation between passengers on the jetway floor during deplaning,” Delta announced in a terse statement to reporters.

And curiouser, one of the original jetway combatants now say that the physical altercation was the result of an urgent medical condition. A women involved in the scuffle says that the disagreement was caused by her trying to leave the aircraft quickly due to a belief that a blood clot condition might have been exacerbated by the roughly two-hour-long flight. When another passenger failed to yield so that the woman in the midst of an ostensible medical crisis could move past, the disagreement quickly turned physical.

It should be noted that medical experts almost universally agree that passengers in need of urgent medical care should under no circumstances stop to brawl with fellow passengers and pilots before seeking treatment.

The Winner – A Cruel and Inept Smuggler

Even before the passenger who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport (SGN) in Vietnam was busted by authorities, his smuggling attempt was an objective failure. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers found that 43 of the rare and endangered song birds that the US citizen was attempting to sneak into the country were already dead.

Although 50 of the exotic birds found tightly bundled in the alleged trafficker’s suitcases managed to survive the journey, the less-than-diligent mule managed to lose just under half of his illicit shipment before even arriving. In the end, US. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) agents report that they were able to save the lives of only eight of the surviving (but very traumatized) birds.

Setting aside the cruel treatment of living creatures and detrimental effects this sort of fly-by-night smuggling operation has on noble attempts to protect rare and endangered birds, the passenger’s callous and ill-conceived bird trafficking scheme also poses a real danger to the population at large.

“Importing certain illegal wildlife, such as these avian species, can not only introduce communicable animal diseases into the United States, but they can also pose a threat to our local ecosystem,” FWS Special Agent in Charge Jill Birchell said in a statement announcing the joint operation with the CBP.

“Smuggling birds is especially dangerous due to the potential for exposure to the highly pathogenic avian influenza,” Los Angeles Area Port Director Mitchell Merriam concurred. “It is the inter-agency partnership between CBP and FWS that helps counter and combat illegal wildlife trafficking.”

The unidentified suspect is now facing federal felony smuggling charges. If convicted, the especially heartless exotic bird trafficker could face up to 20 years in prison. He could also be charged in Vietnam where exporting the protected species is considered an especially serious crime.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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Sydneyberlin May 9, 2017

An impoverished bird smuggler from Vietnam? Ha, 20 years of taxpayer funded free food in a US prison is probably a rather luxurious outcome for this heartless bastard!