Not Your Average Travel Stories: Week of Sept. 23

This week: Sleeping pilots, wine and weed, snakes on planes. Now, cue the locusts.

Rock-a-bye pilots: UK probes whether pilots aboard an unnamed airline’s 300 passenger aircraft were asleep at the same time during a flight to London (don’t worry, they eventually woke up and landed safely). Other pilots caught napping include two who  slumbered so deeply they overshot their Hawaii destination (they knew this when they looked out the window and saw no palm trees, only water).

Happy birthday, dude: 100 pounds of marijuana was seized from bags at LAX Wed. after the TSA noticed something odd about packages wrapped up like birthday gifts. The bags’ owners, who were not quite as clever as they thought were, were smart enough to do a disappearing act before the cops showed up. If this sounds familiar, it’s happened before.

Labor gets bold: New head of the Transport Workers Union (which includes airport/airline workers) says, “Is the TWU afraid of a strike? Absolutely not.” Watch for a protest against Allegiant in Vegas on Thurs.

Yet another reptile invader: Ho-hum, another Qantas flight, another snake on the plane. Fun fact: Australia is home to “20 of the world’s 25 most venomous snakes, including the entire top 10.”

Ice landings: Air New Zealand plans flights to Antarctica where the planes will land on “ice runways”. Tourists will have to wait though – the initial chartered flights are strictly for scientists. Brave scientists.

Wine? Fine: Alaska Airlines waives fees for transporting cases of wine out of Washington state vineyard country via Pasco/Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Yakima airports. Yes, we will drink to that, though not on the plane.

But this is not fine: “Drunken, aggressive and obnoxious” is how a judge described a Qantas passenger after he punched a crew member (he also spat on one and threatened to kill another, but who’s counting?). His sentence: 4 months in jail and a $40,000 fine.

Cocaine: Authorities noticed 30 suitcases aboard an Air France flight from Venezuela to Paris didn’t belong to any of the passengers so they opened them up for a look-see and whoa! All were filled with cocaine. Maybe $270 million’s worth.

Angry merger question: American and US Airways are asking why their union is getting special scrutiny unlike past mega-mergers. They should pay closer attention to analyst Rick Seaney who explained all this back in August as “the cookie jar excuse.”

Unusual landing: A single engine experimental plane began shaking like crazy when flying over Chicago so the pilot landed – on Lake Shore Drive. Perhaps not surprisingly, the aircraft was then hit by a couple of cars – which then drove away, the scofflaws. But no one was hurt.

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Published: September 23, 2013