There are bad seatmates — the flatulent, talking, snoring, leaning, and drooling variety — and then there are disastrous seatmates.
It seems 2017 was an exceptional year for misbehaved passengers. The number of passengers forcibly removed for air rage incidents rose 50 percent in 2017, according to the International Air Transport Association.
There were diversions. There were arrests. There were harrowing galley brawls involving broken wine bottles and zip ties.
This list consists mainly of individuals who caused major disruptions, hospitalizations and/or emergency landings. That’s not to excuse a rash of passengers caught committing sexual offenses on flights this year, or the United passenger who, according to a lawsuit, urinated on his neighbor. But the following passengers didn’t just distrupt a neighbor; they behaved so poorly as to ruin a flight for every other person onboard.
Southwest Passenger Threatens To ‘Kill Everybody’ On Plane After Caught Smoking
“I have a destination for this, I have a destination for myself, and I need to go there,” 24-year-old Valerie Curbelo, of Sandy, Oregon, can be heard saying on another passenger’s video recording. She continued…
“I swear, if you … land, I will kill everybody on this [expletive deleted] plane,” she shouted. “I will kill everybody on this [expletive deleted] plane!”
No one died, but Curbelo did have a destination that day: Sacramento County Jail.
Ryanair Flier Tries Fisticuffs on Tarmac With Airport Police
Getting kicked off the plane was just the beginning for a passenger travelling from London Stansted airport to Ibiza in August.
One man, part of an entire cadre of drunks kicked off the plane during an emergency landing in Bordeaux, France, could be seen in passenger photographs throwing his bags and wrestling on the airport tarmac with police.
The remaining passengers chanted “Off, Off, Off” according to news reports. They eventually made it to the Spanish island destination.
Man Arrested After Attempt To Open Emergency Window Exit
A 20-year-old Pole ended up in custody after lunging across an aisle of seats on a WizzAir flight and grappling with the emergency exit.
Passengers told the BBC that he had been acting strange before the flight as well. He was restrained using demonstration seatbelts (the ones used during safety demonstrations) and arrested once the flight landed at London Luton Airport.
Drunk Aeromexico Passenger Forces Emergency Landing
Pilots on Aeromexico flight 664 were forced to declare an in-flight emergency to remove a drunk. Small, blurry photographs show a man, who was not identified in U.S. news reports, screaming and thrashing about as officials and fellow passengers attempt to restrain him.
The August 22 flight, from Mexico City to San Francisco, made an emergency landing in Guadalajara so the man could be removed and taken into custody.
Passenger’s Putrid Flatulence Sickens AA Flight (Maybe Not)
How can we not forget the fake news about a passenger whose farts were so pungent they left passengers on an American Eagle flight suffering from nausea and migraines. EMS was called to treat members of the crew.
The airline later refuted the story, but not after it captured the imagination of news syndicates across the nation. Even after American claimed the odor was caused by mechanical problems, headlines still ran. Perhaps this story just too good to be fake.
Regardless, flatulence on aircraft is a persistent blight on frequent fliers. Remember this pleading note, passed to a flight attendant by one suffering passenger last year.
Delta Flight Attendants Subdue Man With Wine Bottles
Joseph Daniel Hudek IV is blamed for a major scare on board Delta flight 129 in July. Travelling for free in DeltaOne as a non-revenue companion, Hudek charged the front exit door of the Boeing 767, according to a federal criminal complaint. The flight was barely underway way from Seattle to Beijing.
Hudek actually succeeded in moving the handle on the door, the complain says. Even after a flight attendant hit him squarely with a wine bottle Hudek continued to tussle with flight attendants, according to the Justice Department, and shouted “do you know who I am.”
This image of the wine-stained galley was filed in federal court:
Drunk Passengers Force Lands United 787 in Beijing
An argument between two drunk United passengers this November got so bad that the pilot turned the plane around. United Flight 808 was not even two hours en route from Beijing to Washington Dulles airport when the pilot reversed course, landing back in Beijing.
The unruly economy-plus passenger deplaned, according to the South China Morning Post. The other 211 passengers arrived many hours late in Washington.
Point Me To The Plane is wrapping up 2017 with a look back at the most important air travel and aviation stories. What do you think was the most important trend in 2017? Share in the comments below.