Airport Employees Behaving Badly

These days every large organisation appears to have its fair share of bad apples and major airports are no different. Post 9/11, rigorous background checks were supposed to weed out potential terrorists, sociopaths and thieves. However, as they tend to look at past transgressions, anyone without a previous conviction or subscription to Al Qaeda will sail through. On the whole, it’s impossible to know for sure that an applicant will go rogue until they actually do. By that time, of course, they’ve already been given the airside pass. Just like these guys…

Bang! And You’re In Jail

Whilst baggage handling can be tedious, there are better ways to relieve the monotony than that chosen by Dicarlo Bennett. Just for kicks, this LAX employee created three ‘explosive devices’ by dropping dry ice into bottles of water. Despite the resulting bang being more bark than bite, he was subsequently charged with the felony offence of ‘possessing a destructive device in the vicinity of an aircraft’. A little harsh perhaps, but the LAPD had little choice. They had to charge him with something and being a f**king idiot isn’t yet against the law.

Passenger Wellbeing, Mumbai Style

When John Valentine D’Souza arrived at Mumbai airport’s Terminal 2 for his flight to Kuwait, it’s unlikely he expected to be waking up a few hours later surrounded by his family. Prior to boarding, D’Souza, a diabetic, suffered an attack of hypoglycaemia. This massive drop in blood sugar can cause behaviour similar to that of a drunk person, something airport officials were told when they called D’Souza’s family after he’d been offloaded. However, rather than give him sugared water, they just dumped the now unconscious D’Souza and his luggage on the pavement outside.

But We Dropped Them Softly!

How many of you have paid extra for the protection of a hardshell case, only to find it cracked or punctured at the other end? Ever wonder how it is possible to put a hole in something that looks like it ought to survive the Apocalypse? Well, this Air Canada passenger was able to shed some light on the mystery when he filmed several last-minute bags being dropped into a trolley…from the top of the jetbridge steps. He uploaded the footage to YouTube, where it has received more than 3 million views so far. It is often said that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but it’s safe to say Air Canada’s management didn’t feel that way. They promptly fired everyone involved.

Who Watches The Watchmen?

In the old days, the Holy Grail of most terrorists was to get a bomb on board an aircraft but be nowhere near the thing when it went off. That way, Johnny Terror was still around to fight another day and, more importantly, take the credit. It’s an entirely different ballgame today and screening technology has improved considerably to counter the new threats. Even so, most scanners still require some human monitoring. So when TSA bosses set up hidden cameras following security lapses at Newark airport, they were shocked to see several agents asleep on the job. Had the check-in staff not been asking people if they’d packed their bag themselves, who knows what might have got through.

So That’s A Big Mac-11 And 5kg Of Coke? You Want Fries With That?

Why take the relatively long-odds gamble that the TSA screeners are fast asleep when you could just pay a baggage handler to smuggle shit for you? According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rasondo Maurice Norris was sentenced to 10 years in prison for using his clearance to bypass airport security with a machine gun, 5kg of cocaine and US$500k in cash. Many questions were asked in the wake of this sting operation, except for the most obvious one: Why didn’t the airport employees have to go through the same security as everyone else?

I’ve Never Seen That Before In My Life

Airport security is stressful enough at the best of times. The long queues. Having to empty your life into a plastic tray. Someone rubbing your bits after the metal detector decided there was too much iron in your breakfast cereal. It’s already liable to send your blood pressure off the chart, without then being accused of cocaine possession. Yet a TSA agent at Philadelphia airport apparently did just that. Though supposedly there to test out new equipment, he still had time to ’find’ a baggie of white powder in passengers’ bags. He would then wait for the panicked reaction before letting them in on the joke. It was only creatine powder! Funny prankster? Perhaps. Total wanker? Definitely.

Didn’t This Suitcase Weigh More At Check-In?

Yes, it’s back to the poor old baggage handlers again. It’s an unfortunate truth that stuff has being going missing from checked bags ever since there was such a thing as checked baggage. As all regular travellers know, there are two things you should never leave in hold luggage:

  1. Essential prescription medication and,
  2. Anything else.

Whilst most theft is the result of individual opportunism, every once in a while the authorities uncover organised gangs that are stealing more than just the odd camera. One such gang appears to have been operating in a couple of terminals at LAX. Though still under investigation, as many as 25 people are thought to be involved in what a spokesman described as “one of the largest property heists in the airport’s history”. Impressive, given the competition it’s up against.

So Now It’s Peruvian Marching Powder?

Where would an article about rogue airport employees be without at least one drug smuggling story? This one from Lima, Peru, deserves a special mention because of the way they did it. A suitcase containing huge quantities of cocaine would be exchanged with a real passenger’s case. The bag would then ‘miss’ its flight and be put on a later service, there to be met by an accomplice. The authorities aren’t sure how much was smuggled in this manner, nor how long the operation had been running, but they believe it to be hundreds of kilos. Apart from the huge amount of drugs involved, there was also something else that made this case particularly noteworthy. When the ring was finally broken, several members turned out to be airport police officers.

Jack Leonard

Jack Leonard is a 747 captain with over 20 years of airline experience. Living in France, based in the UK and operating around the world, he has seen his fair share of airports as both flight crew and passenger. He's not sure which is worse.

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