Not Your Average Air Travel Stories: Week of April 29

This week: Airport shooting death, red lipstick and the man who invented bag fees.

Shooting death at airport: News reports say a man fired a gun inside Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Thursday after posting on social media that he planned mass shooting. Later, note is found saying he changed his mind, only intended suicide, and he did shoot himself – at the same time a special agent from Homeland Security fired at him.

Bloody fistfight: An allegedly drunk first class passenger on an American flight was bothering a fellow flyer who got tired of it so he backhanded the guy, and – it was on! Couple of other passengers stepped in to halt the proceedings. Has no one heard the term, demon rum?

X-rated: Boeing says it has begun selling planes from its new “X” series of 777s. Besides the cool name, these babies can fly almost 11,000 miles without stopping (I looked it up). Meanwhile, thanks for fixing the Dreamliner.

He won’t go hungry: Delta CEO Richard Anderson got a nice pay raise last year. Total compensation: more than 12 million bucks. Guess he can quit clipping those Kohl’s coupons.

Red lipstick: Now that we have your attention, Turkish Airlines now bans red and bright pink lipstick from gracing its flight attendants. First liquor (see below), now lipstick – what’s next, a ban on tattoos? Wait – they did ban those. UPDATE 5-10-13: Red lipstick is back!

When airline execs go rogue: Airport police at DFW catch a lot of people abusing their security badges (so family/friends can skip checkpoints). One abuser: a vice president of American Eagle. Security consultant: “Sometimes, humans do some really stupid things.” You got that right.

Life saver: TSA agent at Newark airport performs CPR on seemingly lifeless woman (no pulse) and she survives. Nice job, Bob Kennish.

Duh of the day: Reuters reports Russia now bans its airlines from flying over Syria after some planes had to dodge combat zones. Moscow had recommended planes avoid this airspace but many did not. File this under belated ‘win’ for passengers.

And speaking of Russia: Turkish Airlines may ban alcohol on its flights to and from Russia after a string of drunken passenger incidents. As one media report put it, “Russia’s famous drinking culture is not a myth. Alcohol consumption rates in Russia are among the highest in the world.”

Coke or Pepsi: Man claims Virgin America flight attendants falsely accused him of using profanity. Flight attendants say he did, after refusing to order his soda via the touchscreen, saying, “My time is precious – you are here to serve me.” He got served, alright, with a visit from the FBI. So, he’s suing. If only someone had used that new Virgin hit-on service to send him a drink.

We don’t need no stinking bag fees: Ever wonder who invented airline bag fees? Wonder no more. Blame this guy.

No terror: RAF fighter jets scrambled over highjacking fears when an SAS plane failed to respond to British air traffic control (seems someone forgot to tune radio to correct frequency). RAF pilots were told to look for terrorist activity onboard so they flew real close, whereupon a UK official asked if anyone on the SAS plane spotted them.  “I think they have,” came the response, “they are taking photos of me.”

Let’s go to Dubai: Might as well, everyone else is. Airport traffic there jumped 20% in March. Must be that ski resort inside the mall.

Dreamliner flies again: Over the weekend, Ethiopian Airlines flies passengers in a 787 while All Nippon Airways performs test flights. United expects to resume its Dreamliner schedule in May. For the airlines – and Boeing – it’s been a looong three-and-a-half months.

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Published: April 29, 2013