Millions of people pass through airports every year and the law of averages suggests that a few of these experiences are going to be unconventional. With the inherent madness of the airports themselves, it’s no surprise that strange things happen. This week let’s have a look at a few of the most bizarre things to happen at the airport.
Sometimes the lengths people can go to in order to save some cash are, well, a little extreme. When two women arrived at Liverpool airport in the UK, they told airport staff that the sunglasses-wearing, wheelchair-bound gentleman with them was simply asleep. In fact, 91 year-old Curt Jarant was recently deceased, and his wife and step-daughter were hoping to avoid costly repatriation fees by pretending he was alive. How they expected to get a corpse all the way through check-in, security and then to his seat is anyone’s guess.
The threat of terrorism has become part of daily life and airports are naturally high profile targets. Technology plays a big part in countering this threat but it isn’t perfect and false positives are not uncommon. One such case involved a woman who managed to shut down a Vladivostok terminal when she triggered a radiation alarm. While it would have been an awesome story if this ‘radioactive woman’ was 50’ tall and last seen marauding through the concession stands, in reality she had recently taken the isotope Iodine-131 as part of her cancer treatment.
Anyone who has spent time in an airport lounge will know that feeling when the remote control has vanished, condemning all around to sit through yet another loop of CNN updates. It’s clearly impossible to please all of the people, all of the time when it comes to TV programming. However, in 2005, someone in New Delhi airport made this task even more difficult by screening 20 minutes’ worth of pornography on several screens in the visitor lounge. No one admitted responsibility, though the local TV company did promise to send someone over to fix the cable.
Check-in staff are used to most tricks pulled by passengers trying to get around hand baggage restrictions and excess fees. Despite this, agents at Bromma airport in Sweden got more than they bargained for when the additional weight of a checked bag turned out to be a dwarf. Apparently, it was all a prank, filmed as part of a hidden-camera TV show. Although the airport staff didn’t press charges, they failed to see the funny side. It isn’t clear whether the dwarf was happy or not, as the report didn’t mention his name.
Most drinkers have a story which ends with the line, “And then I woke up in…”, usually followed by a locale such as dumpster, the street, or hospital. However, few can claim to have regained consciousness in the heart of an airport baggage system. That’s exactly what happened at Rome’s Fuimicino airport, when a 36 year-old traveller arrived the night before his early morning flight to Oslo. Like many visitors to this site, he decided to sleep in the airport itself. Unlike many visitors to this site, he was totally wasted when he made this decision. The quiet, flat, welcoming spot he chose turned out to be the baggage belt behind a check-in desk and, when the system started up the next day, our intrepid drunk went with it. Completely oblivious at the time, his journey only came to a happy end because security staff spotted him… going through the X-ray machine.
When ‘false-bottom’ is used in relation to smuggling, it would be normal to assume it was referring to a hidden compartment in a bag or case. However, two women redefined the phrase when they were stopped by customs officials at JFK airport. A sniffer dog had flagged the pair, and a subsequent search revealed both were wearing duct tape diapers containing 6.5kg of cocaine. It serves as a stark warning against drug use – not because of the risk of being caught smuggling, but because of the risk that you’re snorting something up your nose that has spent at least one day taped to someone’s butt. And speaking of butts…
Gold smuggling is rife in India due to high import duties, and criminals have tried everything from flower pots to false-bottom bags to deceive customs. Unfortunately, one man who arrived at Goa airport seemed to have missed the ‘false’ part of the latter method after a body cavity search revealed six gold bars in his rectum. Whether the bars had to be manually extracted, or they just let Nature take it’s painful course is unknown.
With so many petty, stupid rules and, let’s be honest, petty, stupid people involved, airport security is an enormous pain in the backside. Unfortunately, these same people have the power to stop anyone travelling, so the vast majority of passengers just bite their tongue and get it over with. Not John Brennan. Passing through the search facility at Portland International Airport, Brennan became so frustrated with the process that he snapped and stripped completely naked. Whilst that clearly made the security officer’s job much easier, the ingrate didn’t see it that way. Instead, he insisted that Brennan get dressed and then arrested him for indecent exposure when that request was refused. Surprisingly, when Brennan appealed against his conviction and US$1000 fine, the judge sided with him and threw the case out. Given all the photographic evidence showing Brennan bullock naked, it’s probably safe to assume the judge was yet another frequent flyer looking for revenge against the TSA.