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The year is more than half over, which means we're more than halfway done with 2010 travel stories. Since things slow down over the summer, we figured this was a perfect time to pause and reflect on just how insane this year has been. And by insane, we mean stupid.
We wanted to avoid things that were stupid in the "that obviously won't work" kind of way and instead turn to the mind-boggling, inexplicable, "what could they have been thinking" sort of stupidity. And, thanks to the nature of the travel industry and airport security, there was more than enough to go around.
How many times do flight attendants have to remind the flying public that flights, in the these modern times, are strictly non-smoking? And what's more is that you'd think a passenger who's taking too long in the lavatory with smoke coming out from under the door would use common sense to stop himself from joking that he's trying to light a shoe bomb. But no; everything failed horribly last night when a Qatari diplomat on a United flight between Washington-Reagan and Denver International smoked a cigarette in the restroom and then made the sarcastic comment that he was lighting up his shoes.
As expected, the comment was taken literally by the US Air Marshals on board, who wrestled the man down and restrained him through the remainder of the flight, while military jets were scrambled to see the plane to a safe landing. United flight 663, a 757 plane, did land shortly after and was held in a secure area of the airport until a search of the passenger and the plane had finished. Surprise, surpriseno explosives were found.
We knew Kim Kardashian was a trendsetter—or at least plays one on television—but apparently her sense of style has taken to the skies. After she had a little in-flight meet up with an air marshal it seems that now everyone wants to get in on the fun of hanging out with a federal official. Unfortunately for one gentleman, his visit wasn’t a good one.
A couple weeks ago a dude from Alabama was headed to Houston aboard a Continental Airlines flight from Amsterdam, but things didn’t go as well as he probably planned. Apparently this guy was bothering a female passenger in an inappropriate manner, and the flight attendants had an air marshal switch seats with him in attempts to get a handle on the situation. Well that didn’t go so well since the troublemaker hit the air marshal a couple times, but the air marshal got things under control and probably administered an in-flight beat down.
Kim Kardashian was in New York this this week for the premiere of her clothing collection for Bebe, but what's making more news than that is her return flight to Los Angeles. Kim, utilizing the in-flight WiFi on her airplanewe're guessing an American flight because we've seen her travel with them on Keeping Up With the Kardashianstweeted that she was sitting next to an air marshal named Jim.
It went a little something like this:
I'm on the airplane...love wifi! I am sitting next to an Air Marshall! Jim the air marshall makes me feel safe!
Immediately her fans began wagging their fingers at her thoughtlessness, since air marshals are supposed to blend in with the regular passengers and not be pointed out, for the security of all on the plane. So while still in the skies, Kim tried to cover her (very famous) ass:
If you want to relax and enjoy your travels this Thanksgiving, do not read this USA Today story on air marshals. You'll rest easier if you're unaware that more than three dozen U.S. air marshals have been charged with serious crimes since the agency was drastically expanded after 9/11. But since you've gotten this far, here's the lowdown: a recent ProPublica report points out a few of the more disturbing cases, which range from drug smuggling to bribery to trying to hire a hit man to off the old lady. A Las Vegas marshal, for example, was accused by his girlfriend of "pressing his thumbs into the corners of her eyes during a fight" and convicted of domestic battery. Uncool! An Orlando air marshal was busted "photographing women’s crotches on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while on a layover between missions." Weird and creepy! An air marshal from New York, meanwhile, stands accused of "shoving a flight attendant and waving his gun in a Los Angeles hotel." Extremely disconcerting! We understand that the crumb bums represent only a small percentage of the approximately 3,000 - 4,000 air marshals out there, but in absolute numbers, when close to 20 agents are charged with felonies and dozens of others are accused of misconduct, it doesn't inspire much confidence in the agency's hiring practices. Come on, these people are supposed to be the best of the best, and a heck of a lot is at stake when an incident occurs at 35,000 feet. Maybe the economic slowdown will be a benefit to the agency by adding more qualified applicants to the labor pool. If not, the next Air Marshal movie might be a comedy rather than an action thriller.
· Crimes by Air Marshals Raise Questions About Hiring [USA Today]
· Air Marshals and the Law [ProPublica]
· TSA Coverage [Jaunted]