It’s a sad fact, of course, that 2014 will be chiefly remembered for the series of tragedies that befell the Malaysian air industry with the loss of so many lives.
But on the lighter side we’ve almost struggled to keep up with the bizarre antics of pilots, passengers, cabin crew and airline executives around the globe. Remember the intrepid Russian passengers who hopped out and pushed their frozen aircraft to the runway in Siberia? The stinking river of human waste which floated down the aisles from a leaking loo on an aborted Virgin Australia flight from Los Angeles to Sydney? Or the Arizona woman who was reunited with her lost luggage after 20 years?
Well, they’re good – but not good enough! Here’s the official TNT list of our favourite half-dozen aeroplane antics during 2014.
1 The clear winner has to be ‘nut rage’ air executive Heather Cho – who turned a Korean Air flight back to the terminal at JFK airport to eject a senior steward after she was served pre-flight nuts in an incorrect manner. Cho – the daughter of airline chairman Cho Yang-ho – later apologised for flying into a rage over the protocol involved in serving macadamia nuts, but she has been arrested in Seoul and could face jail.
2 Shortly before Christmas it emerged that Easyjet had sacked an employee who called a dissatisfied customer’s solicitor ‘motherf**er’ in an email. He was writing to reject a compensation claim relating to a cancelled flight from London to Edinburgh.
3 A thirsty Aussie attracted 200 giggling onlookers when he drove his new light aircraft down a main road in Newman, Western Australia, before popping into the pub to order a cold one. The 37-year-old had just bought the two-seater Beechcraft aircraft and was driving it home with the wings removed when he decided to stop for a pint. He was subsequently charged with endangering life, health and safety.
4 A Chinese woman scalded a Thai flight lieutenant by throwing hot water and noodles at her when she learned she would not be seated next to her boyfriend. The Thai AirAsia flight for Nanjing subsequently returned to Bangkok, where the passenger and three companions were invited to disembark.
5 Another impatient Chinese traveller was arrested after he triggered his aircraft’s inflatable emergency exit slide so that he could disembark more quickly. The first-time flyer struck just as the China Eastern flight had finished taxiing to the drop-off area after landing safely at Sanya Fenghaung International airport. The man explained to bewildered officials that he had opened the emergency exit because he was “eager to get out of the plane once it landed”. He added that he had not listened to the pre-flight safety briefing and was unaware that it was not permitted to deploy the emergency slide at random.
6 The old year closed in suitably wacky style as a woman filed a $5million lawsuit against United Airlines – claiming she was thrown off a plane and jailed for three days for attempting to change seats. Jean Mamakos, 68, from Long Island, said she moved to an empty exit-row seat during a layover in Seattle, but was told by a flight lieutenant she would have to pay for an upgrade. She claimed that she then movedback to her original seat – but was asked to leave the plane. Seattle police were called, and after resisting arrest she was taken away in handcuffs. She spent three days in a Washington county jail and missed her Alaska ski trip.
Hmmm. We somehow suspect that 2015 will be jam-packed with plenty more flights of fancy – and rest assured we’ll be doing out best to bring you all the highlights!