Six Nominees for Worst 2009 Airline Employee

Note: This incident took place on Dec. 28, 2008, but I include in my 2009 round-up since it wasn't publicized until this year.

Tip: I sincerely doubt anything like this will ever happen to you, but if it does, don't wait for fellow passengers to act -- simply stand up and demand to get off the aircraft. Repeat as necessary.

4. Gun at Gate Guy: A Philadelphia-based US Airways customer service agent allegedly helped his roommate take a gun onboard a flight to Phoenix -- by switching cases with him at the gate. Now, says the Philadelphia Daily News, both men have been indicted and face the possibility of stiff prison sentences.

Tip: Obey the law -- and note that firearms can be transported on US Airways and other airlines -- in checked baggage, along with proper documentation. See your airline's Web site for details.

5. Oblivious Tarmac Driver: An anonymous truck driver working construction at Boston's Logan airport was supposed to stop before crossing the runway, and radio for permission to go ahead. He didn't and a US Airways jet roaring down the runway during take-off missed the driver by seconds.

Tip: Can we just agree to always obey the law or work rules or whatever?

6. eBay Entrepreneurs?: Former Northwest Airlines employee Bridgette Bunnell reportedly blew the whistle on fellow (former) baggage handler Jose Trejo Romero for allegedly stealing items from passengers' luggage. The twist, according to the Oregonian newspaper, was revealed in court documents that claimed Bunnell was also in on the alleged scam -- however, she reportedly ratted out her colleague because he was allegedly withholding some of the loot. She is accused of selling her share of the swag on eBay. Both Bunnell and Romero have pleaded not guilty to the charges and a trial is pending in late July.

Tip: Leave valuables at home. If you must travel with them, keep them on your person or in carryon luggage -- never in a checked bag.

And a final tip: airline employees and others who work in the travel industry sometimes have bad days -- just like the rest of us. Sure, courtesy doesn't cure every ill, but try it. It'll take you a lot farther than yelling, that I can promise you.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.

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