Strange, Weird and Wonderful: The Best of 'Not Your Average Air Travel Stories'

Once a week, FareCompare runs an aggregate of odd air travel stories which includes everything from celebrities misbehaving at airports to bizarre airline food offerings and sightings of naked passengers. Or clothed ones, like the man who tried to smuggle a tiny creature known as a slender loris in his trousers prompting the headline, “Primate in Pants.”

Here are more of the year’s highlights from “Not Your Average Air Travel Stories” by category.

Best Security Stories

Unusual items: The TSA found some marijuana in a peanut butter jar, confiscated a potentially lethal cupcake (it wasn’t), discovered disassembled gun parts in a child’s stuffed animal, found 26 stun guns in a single bag, and in another bag – an actual rocket launcher. Also found: an envelope stuffed with $9,500 in cash, which a TSA officer reunited with its frantic owner.

Security lapses: A TSA supervisor allegedly took bribes to take certification tests for officer candidates while crews at JFK reportedly screened passengers with a metal detector that wasn’t plugged in, even as officers in Newark supposedly slept on the job. Other countries had security issues as well; in the United Kingdom a bored 11-year-old boy in Manchester decided to see the world and managed to board a plane without benefit of ticket or passport after which he enjoyed a lovely flight to Rome.

Best Passenger Stories

Naked in the airport: A woman braved the chill of a New Hampshire airport in Feb. to protest the TSA by stripping to a skimpy swim suit, while another security protestor bared it all in Portland, Ore. Then there was the woman who walked naked through Orlando’s airport but no one seemed sure why.

Unusual outfits: A woman flying on American missed a connecting flight because she was forced to change her t-shirt which was emblazoned with the F-word, while a man flying from China to Kenya avoided hefty overweight baggage fees by donning most of his wardrobe including 60 shirts and 9 pairs of pants.

Shocking travelers: There were a few stories about passengers allegedly assaulting one another but on the lighter side, there was the man who traveled with a life-size inflatable doll (with its own seat that the man paid for); a couple of instances of passengers attempting to open airplane doors (this cannot be done in flight); and no round-up of shocking stories would be complete without mentioning the man who tried (and failed) to board his plane with several live eels.

New passengers: A baby was born aboard a Delta flight in April and the child was named Ebosalume; another, born on an Emirates flight in August, was named EK which is the international airline code for Emirates.

Best Animal Stories

Mammals: Bob-Bob the cat snuck into his owner’s checked suitcase and had a somewhat suffocating trip from Ohio to Orlando but lived to tell the tale.

Reptiles: An Aussie pilot managed the harrowing feat of landing a plane while a snake crawled down his leg. They make ‘em tough Down Under.

Best Airline Food Stories

Food: International carrier JAL puzzled Americans but apparently delighted its citizens by serving a new menu item (and Japanese favorite): KFC. Less popular was a bizarre occurrence of needles found in turkey sandwiches on two different airlines which at last report had been traced to a European catering company. It was also a banner year for great food on planes including offerings like Artichoke Mezzaluna Pasta – assuming you were lucky enough to sit in first class.

Drink: Just in time for the New Year, Spirit introduced pre-mixed cocktails served in a bag called, Party in a Pouch. And like almost everything else on Spirit, there’s a fee for that.

Best Celebrity Stories

Some of the bigger names in air travel news:

  • Justin Bieber: A fellow passenger told the young singer to knock it off with the (alleged) profanity; he did and apologized.
  • Beyonce: Congressman suggested the singer – and other celebrities – should be given a pass by the TSA because “Beyonce’s not going to blow up a plane.”
  • Kim Kardashian: The ubiquitous reality star made “news” by tweeting about items removed from her luggage before a British Airways flight.
  • Henry Kissinger: The former Secretary of State endured a pat-down by TSA officers and while the media went bonkers, he praised the officers for their “professionalism”.
  • Ridiculously Photogenic Guy: He had little to do with air travel, as far as is known, but – as noted in all those memes – who cared?

Find the latest edition of the odd and unusual on the News Blog – each and every Friday.

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Published: January 1, 2013