Fliers have pulled some seriously funny moves over the years in attempting to check in for flights, clear security and customs, or board a plane -- from trying to smuggle odd items through checkpoints to throwing ill-advised fits that landed them in the hospital or jail.
Few were successful. Most were regrettably stupid. Hollywood scriptwriters couldn't even dream half of this stuff up.
A 78-year-old woman said she misunderstood instructions from a check-in agent at Stockholm's Arlanda International Airport in 2008. Instead of placing her luggage onto a baggage chute, as instructed, she plopped herself down on it! Reclining on the conveyer belt of the unmanned chute like a tray in a cafeteria dishwasher, she traveled to the baggage handling area before someone rescued her. Unhurt, she made her flight to Germany.
Other airport conveyer belt joy riders were less innocent. Two New Jersey teens on a church volunteer trip got busted at New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport in 2008 for riding a luggage conveyor belt past security and into a "sterile" area. A Columbia University researcher was caught in 2010 for the same offense -- riding the luggage carousel at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after being denied entry into the TSA screening area because he didn't have a photo ID.
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Dumb and Dumberer
The dumbest thing we think anyone ever tried to get through security and carry onto a plane? A fully gassed-up power chainsaw. The second-dumbest thing? A dead relative in a wheelchair (to avoid paying the fee for transporting a body).
And in 2006, a 29-year-old man carrying a grenade-shaped item preferred to fib to TSA agents and say it was a bomb rather than admit in front of his mother that it was a part to a sexual enhancement device.
(Honorable mention goes to the chap who attempted to bring a alarm clock shaped like dynamite sticks.)
Diamond in the Rough
We love this gem: A U.S. citizen traveling from Tel Aviv in 2008 told authorities at John F. Kennedy International Airport that he had nothing to declare. His definition of nothing? More than $1.2 million in diamonds.
Better Late Than Never -- Seriously
What should you do if you're running late for a flight? Why, phone in a fake bomb threat, of course. That's what a German sports reporter did when he was racing to catch a plane to go cover a 2008 soccer match. His plan might have worked if he didn't give himself away by calling to inquire about the yet-to-be-announced delay.
A woman tried a similar scheme in 2009 when her boss in Miami was behind schedule for his flight to Honduras. She followed up a bomb threat telephone call with an e-mail, which was later traced.
Both were arrested.
Airplane Horror Stories
A pair of ultra-chic Christian Louboutin spiked shoes owned by music producer and performer Taz Arnold raised eyebrows when they went through an X-ray machine at Dulles International Airport last January. They were ultimately let through -- as were Lady Gaga's handcuffs, at Los Angeles International Airport in 2010.
Yet in 2008, a traveler at Heathrow International Airport wasn't allowed to board a flight until he changed T-shirts. The offensive image emblazoned on his chest? A gun-toting character from the animated TV show and film "Transformers."
While we admit that a grown man should have better fashion sense, since when did TSA agents turn into the "Project Runway" judges?
The Real Reason Fliers Hate the Airlines
There are hundreds of ways people have tried to smuggle illegal drugs through security. Props to these five foolish rubes for their dim yet entertaining creativity:
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Illegal wildlife traders rival drug smugglers in the inventive ways they try to get critters through security and customs.
Take, for instance, the Thai woman flying from Bangkok to Iran in 2010, who thought disguising a drugged tiger cub among stuffed toys would fool customs agents; no such luck. (Read the story on our blog.) Another especially brazen woman tried hiding 75 snakes in her bra. Yes, we cringed too.
Customs at Melbourne Airport discovered a man with two live pigeons stuffed into his tights -- and that's nothing compared to the traveler at Los Angeles International Airport who strapped more than a dozen live songbirds to his legs. Other disturbing finds include reptiles and insects of all sorts, a baby alligator, and a frozen monkey head.
We're Watching You
Apparently, hell hath no fury like an immigration official scorned. An officer in the U.K. placed his wife on a terrorist watch list while she was visiting family in Pakistan, preventing her from returning home for three years.
Another man's pride was most likely wounded last February when facial recognition technology allowed him to sail through security at England's Manchester Airport using his wife's passport. We're not sure if the man had feminine features or if his wife had a strong jaw line, but the airport discontinued using the technology as a result.
Poll: What's the Stupidest Behavior You've Seen on a Plane?
Can't Let Go
A 64-year-old man changing planes at Nuremberg Airport put frat boys to shame in 2007 when he downed an entire liter of vodka after being told he'd have to throw it away or pay to check it. While he didn't make the flight, he did get a personal tour of the local hospital, where he spent a few days recovering from alcohol poisoning.
Another traveler, at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, also disputed being told to throw something away -- in this case, a tube of toothpaste. He protested it by ... wait for it ... brushing his teeth.
And what could Haisong Jiang not let go of? His girlfriend, apparently. The 28-year-old dodged a security checkpoint for a few more goodbye smooches, causing a security breach that led to Newark Liberty International Airport being closed briefly in 2010. Police nabbed him a few days later, thanks to surveillance footage.
Turns out he was a post-doctoral fellow at Rutgers University, where he, like all of these travelers, should have taken a course in common sense.
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--written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma